Years and Years (of Pay TV Industry Predictions)

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Couple of things there jump out at me. First, "as much of the pay TV infrastructure crumbles". Beyond all of the technical considerations about satellite arcs, and which homes have dishes compatible with which arcs, etc., it's useful to ponder for a moment what the video entertainment landscape will look like in, say, 2027. As you allude, there will certainly be fewer cable channels in existence. At that point, I would bet that virtually 100% of new content coming out -- including live news and sports -- will be available outside of linear channels. I'm not saying that linear channels won't exist but simply that they'll be an alternative way of consuming a subset of the overall content available, all of which will be available through various direct-to-consumer streaming services.

    And if that becomes the case, who's going to still be willing to pay for satellite-based channel packages? DBS will be regarded as a last-century technological and entertainment backwater. The stench of death will begin to set in in the early 2020s when it becomes clear that AT&T has no intentions of continuing to develop and improve DirecTV because they want to get rid of it at some point. Yes, some kind of TV is better than nothing at all, so as we've always said, DBS will still be used by rural Americans with no available broadband provider, and therefore with no other choices for pay TV. But what % of US homes will that constitute in the late 2020s? (The latest news out of SpaceX is that their Starlink LEO broadband service will commence operations across the southern US by late 2020 before expanding nationwide.) And as DBS subscribers continue to dwindle throughout the 2020s, carriage rates become less favorable and the fixed costs of operating and marketing the business are spread over fewer and fewer paying customers, a disproportionate share of whom will be low-income/poor-credit.

    Second thing is "commercial will keep DBS alive". Maybe. But I'm not sure why sports bars, etc. will be immune to the broader trends of everything in the nation being IP-connected-and-fed. All other video service providers will have transitioned to either OTT and/or managed IPTV in the early 2020s. Why do we think, exactly, that sports bars will want to stick with DBS, unless of course a DBS provider like DTV retains exclusive commercial distribution rights to certain sports content. (But it's already looking like DTV's firm grip on NFL Sunday Ticket is slipping.)

    But if that's not the case, then why? I guess simple inertia, sticking with what they've always had, might be a factor. But DBS would have to at least keep up with what other providers will offer, which will mean carrying all live sports in 4K HDR as the 2020s roll on. Still though, those sports bar patrons don't like it when the game goes out because rain has rolled in (as I saw happen at a local establishment this summer). DBS rain fade is a real thing and you shouldn't assume it wouldn't factor into commercial establishments' desire to drop it if and when a cost-effective alternative video pipe becomes available.

    Still though, assuming DBS remains a profitable business on the commercial side significantly longer than on the residential side, I suppose it's possible we'd see a situation at some point where the sole remaining DBS provider drops residential service and focuses only on commercial accounts, with the entire system carrying only live 4K HDR sports plus the national live news channels. That kind of B2B operation would be a far simpler business to run for various reasons, I'd think.

    FWIW, there's a guy who used to post a bit on the SatelliteGuys forum (his handle is "Inclined Orbit," I think) who says he used to work at DTV and says he's still occasionally in touch with current employees there at AT&T in their DBS operations. He says that multiple things he's been told from insiders there seem to indicate some kind of DBS shut-down in a few years -- I think 2023 was the timeframe he kept saying. I can't remember exactly what he posted at different times, but it was interesting. Might be a lot of hot air and not mean anything.

    But 2023 does sound, to me, like a reasonable time to expect AT&T to somehow unload DTV. I still believe their game plan will be to shift as many DTV subs over to AT&T TV (or, failing that, at least to HBO Max) in 2020-22, at which point it'll be time to try to make a deal with DISH for what remains of DTV while it still has some amount of value. Given the diminished size of DTV (as well as DISH) by then, while streaming continues to rise, the FCC might well allow a tie-up between the two DBS systems, although perhaps with some kind of pricing conditions in place.

    Well, if there's a deal between DTV and DISH, it'll be not just for the sat fleet but the customer base too. The question is how they would consolidate them on a unified set of channel packages and CPE hardware. Obviously, they'd want to spend as little as possible replacing existing receivers and rooftop dishes. I think they'd just carry all their core channel packages on both sat fleets for as long as possible. Then it doesn't matter what kind of dish, wiring and receiver you have. Perhaps some add-on Extra Packs and/or 4K HDR channels would only be available on the larger, newer DTV fleet. And then as more sats in the DISH fleet failed, perhaps more core channels would become exclusive to the DTV fleet, requiring customers with DISH dishes who still wanted those channels to get their dish swapped out. But they'd only want to force those conversions as they absolutely became necessary. I'd think they'd standardize on one receiver system (probably Hopper, not the decrepit Genie) and perhaps begin making a slightly different version of Hopper receivers that could replace failing Genie receivers for customers with DTV set-ups. New installations would only point dishes toward the DTV fleet.

    Yes, I could see both AT&T and DISH getting out of the DBS business by selling their operations to a single third-party operator. (Well, I can see DISH doing that if Ergen's 5G dreams play out, giving DISH a lifeline out of DBS. But if the T-Mo/Sprint deal fails and he otherwise can't build a new 5G network, he'll be stuck extracting the last bits of value he can from DBS until it dies, because what else can he do?)

    As for rural, commercial and semi-mobile, I just think all those use-cases will over the next several years be served by some form of wired or wireless broadband (e.g. 5G/4G, LEO sat, AirGig), which is already a way broader, more flexible video pipe than DBS. That perceived quality disparity will only heighten as more and more of the video entertainment we consume exists exclusively outside of linear channels (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock, etc.)
     
  2. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I got an email from Comcast yesterday evening that my Performance tier would go from 60/5 to 100/5. I rebooted everything this morning and speed tested. Still pulling 71.4 Mbps down, so the bump up hasn't reach me yet.

    Extra speed for no extra cash is nice! That said, it won't make any noticeable difference to me because I never really do anything (other than Speedtest.net) that even tests the max download speed I have now...
     
  3. WhenenRome

    WhenenRome Member

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    Just an FYI on the "speed bumps" coming from different ISP's: You may need a new modem to see it happen for your home network. We did. Ours was only capable of handling 100 - found out when I called in to ask. But they came out the next day, changed it out and we were set & running at 200 in about 15 minutes.
     
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  4. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. My modem is good up to about 300 Mbps, I think. So it's just a matter of Comcast implementing it on my account.
     
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  5. chiguy50

    chiguy50 Well-Known Member

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    Same here. I have a Netgear CM1000 DOCSIS 3.1 modem, which I was using last year with my previous gigabit HSI tier from Comcast. I switched to a Blast! bundle package in March when my gigabit discount pricing had expired.

    I plan to wait until the end of the month and, if I still have not received the speed upgrade at that point, will have Comcast take some further action. Assuming that they are implementing this in waves, my instinct is to "first do no harm" and thus avoid any unnecessary intervention from underskilled CSR's that could mess up something else.

    I would appreciate it if you would post here when you get the speed increase on your account.
     
  6. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    As it happens, I just rebooted my modem and router about 2 minutes ago and then ran a speed test. Still no upgrade here. Will try to remember to let you know when mine comes through.
     
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  7. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Correct. Linear will really become a way of packaging the streams into a format that can be mass broadcast out over the CONUS and for commercial use.

    1. Rural
    2. Commercial/hospitality
    3. RVs/boats

    Those types of venues have moved from cable over to satellite almost universally over the past 5-10 years. As some MSOs drop out of the TV business, DBS will become the only practical option. Further, there are access and cost issues to get the bandwidth that would be required to do this sort of thing over IP, whereas satellite works anywhere you can get to the roof. It's not that IPTV can't be done, it's that it can't be done economically in many cases. Further, DBS is nationwide, so a chain of restaurants and hotels can do one contract nationwide.

    Rain fade is virtually non-existent on a properly installed dish. That's a matter of training techs properly and fixing dishes that aren't dithered correctly. They will need a few 4k channels if those channels are available elsewhere for sports bars. Most of the rest of the content is fine at HD resolution, and really only the big event for a given region needs to be 4k, as usually the other TVs aren't that big or aren't the focus. For hotels, HD is fine.

    Possible, but I doubt they'd cut out rural, just because of the relative lack of competition and good margins. I think they'd probably run it through a re-seller or at least get rid of their own installers though, and let somebody else drive all over hill and dale installing satellite dishes.

    Possible. Or some other outside investor comes in and takes the carcass of D*. My guess is that they continue on for many decades in one form or another. It wouldn't be the 400 channel behemoth it is today, but there will be a niche market for satellite. There are satellite systems today that broadcast in-store music and TV channels, and all sorts of other niche stuff that's linked over satellite. Satellite is a useful technology in one form or another. Maybe AT&T doesn't want to run a small niche in a few years, but somebody will, whether it's DISH or not.

    I'm not familiar with the DISH satellite fleet, but my gut tells me that as those satellite reach EOL, they would move people over to the D* side. It would only be practical to run 3 redundant arcs as long as the existing satellites are serviceable. The question is whether they combine the bandwidth at 110 and 119 into the D* system, or whether they move only to the 99c/101/103c narrow arc after all the international and other stuff is stripped off.

    Keep in mind also that DirecTV has markets in Latin and South America, and I'm not sure how those affect the US, or what orbital positions can be used down there versus up here.

    The problem is, we have no national plan for broadband (or really anything for that matter). There will be some increase in coverage, but it won't be universal, and there will still be a demand for DBS for all three of those usage categories.
     
  8. trip1eX

    trip1eX Well-Known Member

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    good discussion with Tom Rogers former CEO of Tivo on CNBC. touches on streaming services, old cable model vs on-demand model, streaming vs ads, emmys, broadcast networks, tivo pre-roll ads and more

     
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  9. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Comcast has recently begun making a push to get X1 into commercial establishments. All of those places already have broadband, anyhow, so many of them are, I'm sure, customers of Comcast or whoever the local cable operator is.

    Nope. Like those MSOs' residential customers, we'll see the commercial customers also turn to OTT/IPTV video solutions. In fact, that kind of thing already exists. I remember reading earlier this year about an OTT subscription service targeted at establishments like doctor and dentist offices who need content to display on the TVs in their waiting rooms, etc.

    I'm sure the cable/fiber provider would be happy to serve those sports bars via managed IPTV with a package price for broadband and TV content.

    No. You're simply spouting DBS propaganda. I've seen it way, way too many times in too many places (including in my own home, with both DISH and DTV, where tech visits confirmed that the dishes were properly pointed and "peaked," yet rain fade persisted). Comment boards contain too many real-life instances of DBS users experiencing rain fade. Cable companies' TV ads have repeatedly attacked DBS over rain fade *because it's a real phenomenon and an effective line of attack*.

    Nope. Folks go to sports bars expecting to see big screen TVs that look at least as good as what they see at home. If, by the mid-2020s, it's normal for middle-class Americans to watch nearly all of their live sports in 4K HDR at home, then they'll also expect that level of picture quality at sports bars. (It's kind of like "Why go to the movie theater if the movie looks better on my TV?')

    You do realize that lots of hotels are already switching over to streaming, right? And DISH seems to be one of the leaders there:

    Dish's Android TV Hotel Platform Now Lets Guests Stream Live TV To Their Phones | Android Headlines

    Maybe Motel 6 out in the middle of nowhere will still be offering "grandpa TV" via DBS come 2025 but I doubt that'll still be the experience at a Hilton or Marriott.

    Yeah, I could maybe see them dumping installation and having customers handle that separately. But I question how many more years that DBS will be the sole option available for rural customers as LEO satellite and other forms of wireless broadband reach them.

    Well, I guess we're getting down to semantics now. If those DBS satellites are still in use for *something* come 2033 but they don't offer something resembling cable TV packages for residential users, then can we say that "satellite TV" still exists then? If all they're doing is, I dunno, beaming live news channels to TVs in airports, has "satellite TV" died? I'd say yes.

    If there's any kind of viable economic use for those still-operable DBS sats, then sure, they'll be sold/leased to someone for some kind of use. But that doesn't mean they'll be used to provide a service that looks like DTV or DISH as we've always thought of them.

    LEO satellite broadband should offer coverage that's just as universal as DBS, no? Meanwhile, other forms of connectivity will reach the lowest-hanging rural fruit: wired co-ops, fixed wireless 5G/4G, maybe AT&T's AirGig if that ever happens.
     
  10. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    They largely don't use cable TV, they use satellite. Restaurants may or may not have cable broadband, many use xDSL for office and POS systems, none of which require a lot of bandwidth. They may or may not even have a cable connection available.

    Those aren't the DirecTV power users. It's going to be a while before we see IPTV providing 20 channels at a time to 70 TVs like a modern sports bar. These places literally have dual 42U racks full of D* and HDMI matrix gear.

    Except that they are almost universally using D*. I don't know why exactly cable companies don't want to compete for the business, or if it is has to do with NFL ST, but they are all on D*.

    If D* goes out more than once in a blue moon, they didn't peak it correct, or it's not mounted to a solid surface. Ka-band is hard to peak properly. E* is not as solid, I don't quite understand the technical reasons why, but it has something to do with satellite power and dish size. E* is more forgiving, however, as the are Ku-band.

    While it can vary widely from cable operator to cable operator, most cable operators cannot match DBS's reliability. It is beaten only by fiber-based systems that are entirely fed from the CO/WC. The cable ads are dishonest propaganda. DBS cuts out for a few minutes at a time once in a blue moon, generally during afternoon rain showers when no one is watching TV anyway. When cable goes out, it's often out for hours. Many cable systems go out shortly after the power is out, while DBS stays up and running even when the power is out for days.

    Most of the TVs, while fairly big (50-70"), aren't close enough to where most of the people are to get a big boost out of 4k. Bars will need them at least as good as people watch them at home for whatever the main feed they have on, but that's assuming there are a lot of 4k broadcasts, which remains to be seen.

    That's not streaming, at least not in the traditional sense. That's DBS that's being streamed out to devices on-prem. The big chains have pretty much all converted over to D* in one form or another in the past 5 years or so. Cable is rare these days. Some use SMATV directly to a TV, some go through a custom OTT streaming box, while others offer an actual D* box in each room. But they're all using D*.

    I'm just wondering how the bandwidth on LEO scales out. Is it really going to be enough to have everyone streaming TV? How much of it will get slurped up by higher-value uses like serving broadband to planes?

    I think they'll still offer residential packages, but it will be more of a niche operation, and there might be 50-100 channels, not 400.

    It will look more like the D* or E* service of the mid- to late- 1990s than the current model. Meaning that end users pay for their equipment to get access, and independent installers do the installations.

    If there's enough bandwidth on LEO. That remains to be seen. I'm skeptical that we'll see LEO with the 1TB+ caps required to replace linear video delivery. I'm thinking something more like AT&T's FWI that's had various caps under 500GB offered, some as low as 160GB I believe.
     
  11. chiguy50

    chiguy50 Well-Known Member

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    I rebooted my modem first thing this morning and am now getting the increased Blast! speeds (240/12).
     
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  12. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Lots of those places already offer free wifi for their customers. Everywhere will eventually have broadband. If the broadband provider will offer managed IPTV (either their own TV service or an outside partner provisioned on their IP system) there's no reason not to use it.

    Managed IPTV with multicast can easily do that.

    I'd say it's largely because of NFL Sunday Ticket. If sports bars were choosing DBS because of some kind of inherent advantages that it offered, then we'd see a mix of DISH and DTV being used. But you almost never see DISH, it's always DTV. So it's about the carriage contracts that AT&T has in place for DTV, with NFL ST being the biggest one. And guess what? NFL ST won't be exclusive to DTV much longer. That contract will be up after the 2020-21 season. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if NFL ST is available over both DTV *and* AT&T TV next year.

    Have you actually installed these dishes as your job? Because more than one technician who DID do that for a living confirmed that my dish was optimally installed. And yet I had rain fade *every* time it rained. With both DTV and DISH. Granted, my experience is just one data point. But again, I've personally seen and read about lots of other reports of rain fade. I'm sure it's a problem that some DBS users seldom or never experience. But it's a very real phenomenon that afflicts a significant number of them and, if you're one of those users, then it's definitely a factor to be considered when weighing whether to stick with DBS or switch to something else. So again, I have to think that a decent number of sports bars would be happy in switching from DBS to something more reliable if they still had access to all the same programming at a similar cost.

    No. We get rain here at any point of the day, including in the evening. It was probably about 8 PM when I saw DTV go out at a restaurant due to a storm rolling in here this summer. Sports were playing at the time.

    If the power is out, a sports bar or other establishment has bigger problems to worry about than TV.

    Netflix isn't streaming? And regardless of what is being done with the linear channels, all decent hotels/motels now offer their customers wifi and understand that a growing portion of video that their guests consume is from on-demand streaming services. Who cares any more about turning on a strange hotel cable box (unfamiliar UI and channel numbers) and surfing through whatever happens to be playing live on an unknown bunch of linear channels at the time? Increasingly, hotels are offering ways to make it simple for guests to either access their own SVOD accounts on the room's TV or offer complementary access (no account needed) to Netflix and other SVODs.

    Dunno, we'll see. But obviously, it's going to be used for streaming video. Video constitutes a huge majority of the data consumed via broadband. If you don't care about streaming YouTube, Netflix, etc., and simply want to browse web pages and send emails like it's 1999, you don't really need broadband.

    We'll see. Musk/SpaceX says that they want Starlink to be competitive. A lower cap than 1 TB wouldn't surprise me but something as low at 160 GB would.

    I still find your emotional attachment to DBS (particularly DTV) strange. It's something I'd typically associate with old people. Whatever. It'll probably have a long, slow death as the 2020s unfold. You'll have plenty of time to adjust. Come 2030, we'll think of DBS the way we think of audio cassette tapes today.
     
  13. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Some offer free Wi-Fi. Often it's slow. Often the Wi-Fi is not connected to broadband at all, but rather high speed internet provided over xDSL. More often than not in my experience, publicly available Wi-Fi isn't broadband at all.

    It's 20 boxes getting 20 different channels, or about 120mbps of video. IP multicast doesn't help when all 20 channels are different.

    E* doesn't scale out to as many boxes.

    Rain fade is exceedingly rare on D* and suffers outages less than all but the very best maintained HFC plants or fiber providers. E* suffers it far more.

    That being said, rain fade is still a huge business problem for AT&T, since many/most dishes aren't properly peaked/dithered to get spot on with the Ka band, and some aren't even mounted on solid structures that will keep the dish in a rock solid position. Some also aren't properly installed with both of the stabilizing legs that give it a true tripod mount when all 3 are screwed down to solid surfaces.

    Same as for residential, it depends on their backup power. Most places have totally inadequate backup power systems.

    I didn't say anything about Netflix, I was addressing the E* system that "streams" to your device in the hotel. That's DBS into the box in the hotel, streaming out over the LAN.

    Absolutely, many are, including Mariott. Many are not. Also, even the ones like Mariott that offer boxes where you can log into Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, alongside their linear TV that is delivered by DBS SMATV are still delivering most video through the SMATV system, not streaming, so the aggregate bandwidth demands are significantly lower than if everyone got into their room and turned on the news over IPTV. I think the Residence Inn/Mariott system that has roughly 40 linear channels delivered in HD over SMATV form a D* dish is the future. They also offer Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu that most people probably don't use, but is a cool feature to have there.

    There will clearly be some streaming video on it. But it likely won't be able to replace DBS for rural users. However, streaming live TV constitutes a much larger chunk of bandwidth than watching some YouTube videos or even watching shows on Netflix.

    I don't have an emotional attachment to it, I simply have a rational view of how things work in this country. If I could have my way, I'd have universal gigabit fiber everywhere that there is a grid, as well as competition in areas that currently have cable, no bandwidth caps, and net neutrality. That's the right thing to do, and would effectively wipe out DBS or relegate it to a tiny niche. However, none of those things are happening, so DBS has a future, even if it's a much smaller niche than it occupies today. I'm also just reporting what I see with hotels, sports bars, etc. I don't quite understand why D* is so popular, but I believe it has to do with their commercial/SMATV offerings, ability to do HD QAM over SMATV, and the ability to offer it to a large chain like Mariott nationwide.
     

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