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R/L DBS Package Speculations


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#1 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 01 April 2002 - 09:45 AM

I've been thinking about R/L DBS and some things it has stated to the FCC concerning the D*/E* merger. A few things in particular was they stated that their national service would be small, limited, and not offer many channels. 9 of their 11 TPs will be used by spots according to an FCC filing (which is why they would like to have the two additional unclaimed TPs at 61.5).

Rainbow's structure is that it is a jointly owned subsidary of CableVision and NBC. Also MGM owns a 20% stake in AMC and Bravo. With all this in mind this is what I think the basic R/L package will look like:

Those in spotbeams will get their locals along with regional Rainbow owned channels (the channels already exist in the NYC area):
Metro News (A La News 12 in NYC area)
Metro TV (Lifestyle channel based on the region)
Metro Learning (Learn about your region)
Metro Traffic & Weather (It you don' know what that is...)

This package probably would sell slightly higher than D*/E*'s $5.99, maybe $7.99.

On the "national" beam the basic package would probably be:
American Movie Classics (Rainbow/MGM 20%)
Bravo (Rainbow/MGM 20%)
IFC (Rainbow)
WE (Rainbow)
MuchMusic USA (Rainbow)
CNBC (NBC)
MSNBC (NBC)
ShopNBC (NBC)
Your Local Fox Sports Net (5 are 100% owned by Rainbow, the rest are 50% owned by Rainbow)
MGM Network (MGM, currently in development)
MGM Movie Channel (MGM, currently in development)
C-Span (PI channel, every cable operator pays into it anyway)
Classic Arts Showcase (PI Channel, it's free and the other DBS providers don't carry it)
2 additional PI channels (to get them to the 4%)
R/L DBS Barker Channel

This package would probably be around $15.00

Interactive Video On Demand services:

Mag Rack (Rainbow, there are currently 14 electronic magazines)

A couple bucks.

R/L will probably first target Sky Angel subs (who are already looking at 61.5) through an agreement with SA to offer a free dual SA R/L DBS receiver(or something similar to seamlessly intergrate the two services with two receivers). Most of the channels owned by the parties could be considered "family safe", which would be apealing to SA and it's subs.

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#2 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 11:56 PM

There might well be some demand from SA subs for at least the first package, since Bloomberg is leaving 61.5 (or may already have left, I'm not sure). Hopefully R/L DBS would offer "the whole enchilada" for $19.99 or less (at least, the combination of package 1 and 2). This would be a great alternative to Top 50 for those wanting something different.

Might I suggest that Angel One be offered to R/L's customers? Either as a PI channel, counting towards the requirement, or if it can't be done that way, perhaps SA could "open up" 9701 as a "free" channel to any receiver out there.

I do look forward to seeing what they do intend to offer, and suggest that if they are watching this forum, it'd be great if they would post with at least some general ideas. Heck, it would be free market research. They could conduct a survey of sorts, to see what there is interest in.

#3 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 04 April 2002 - 08:05 AM

You have something there. They may offer independently owned channels (thoses not owned by a big corporation or competing cable company). Bloomberg and Goodlife TV are certianly possibilities. When thinking about R/L we have to remember that 9 of their TPs are going to be tied up in spot beams and only 2 will be used nationally. About 24 channels will fit on the national service.

They have promised the FCC that they will offer local type channels that aren't available anywhere else. This leads me to believe that they intend to make regional versions of their Metro Channels on each spot beam.

Sadly though if you are not in one of their spotbeams the only thing you would be able to get is what they offer on their 2 national TPs. According to the spotbeam map they presented to the FCC I'm not in one of their spots and would have to be happy with what is provided nationally.

With the D*/E* merger there will be some that defect to R/L if the merger occurs. This is why I have been watching everything that comes out of R/L as I may consider going to them if the merger is approved.

#4 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 04 April 2002 - 08:27 AM

FYI until I convert their spotbeam map from PDF to an image file here are the spots and Cities(DMAs) where R/L will carry locals and regional channels.

01-Bangor ME, Agusta(Portland)ME
02-Burlington NY/VT, Albany NY, Boston MA
03-New York NY, Philadelphia PA
04-Washington DC, Baltimore MD
05-Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte NC
06-Atlanta GA
07-Memphis TN, Birmingham, Montgomery AL
08-Columbia, Charleston SC, Savannah GA
09-Orlando, Tampa, Ft.Myers, Miami, W.Palm Beach FL
10-Grand Rapids, Detroit MI, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus Oh
11-Milwaukee, Madison WI, Chicago, Peoria IL, Indianapolis IN
12-Jackson MS, Mobile Al, Baton Rouge, New Orleans LA
13-Minneapolis, Duluth MN, Fargo ND
14-St.Louis MO, Kansas City MO/KS
15-Topeka, Wichita KS, Tulsa OK
16-Dallas, Waco, Abilene, Tyler TX
17-Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi TX
18-Denver CO
19-Albuquerque NM
20-Seattle, Spokane WA, Portland OR, Boise ID
21-Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno CA
22-Los Angeles, San Diego CA, Phoenix, Tucson AZ

67 Cities

#5 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 12:03 PM

Well I am not IN Indianapolis proper, but I am in the DMA, so I hope I'll be included in that spot. Since the same spot covers Chicago, I think I would probably be included.

Thanks for posting the list of local cities.

Actually I am surprised how many of them are toward the west - I thought it would be more east coast and midwest cities, considering they are broadcasting from 61.5. However, is it possible that the spot beams might be able to direct more power (since each spot is covering a smaller area than CONUS) which would improve signal strength and ease of reception? I do not know much about spot beam technology, and this could also depend on how much power each spot has.

I wonder also if they would open up ShopNBC as a free channel. I have always thought it was strange that ANY of the shopping channels would want to be encrypted, really. Isn't the point to reach as many viewers as possible?

I don't know what they have planned as interactive services exactly, but it would be nice if they could offer an OpenTV version of the NBC interactive channel that I have seen on DirecTV.

Something else that would be nice is if they could really make an effort to carry all locals of interest in each metro. For starters, they could carry ALL PBS affiliates in each DMA.

Even LPTVs and Class A TV's, provided that they aren't shopping channels - unless those shopping channels want to pay R/L and therefore help lower the package price for consumers. For example we have two different Class A stations here in our DMA that basically have 24 hour local news and weather (each is owned by a full power network affiliate). We also have a currently cable-only 24 hour local news station run by a full power network affiliate.

Since the majority of the service will be local, I think it would be great if they could be as "local" as possible by carrying all these stations. Plus they may find that they can negotiate more favorable (i.e. cheaper) rates for the full power stations if they are also willing to carry the other channels each full power station may have.

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 06:41 PM

Has Bloomberg Television left 61.5?

I cant see it on the EPG.

#7 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 08:59 PM

No, Bloomberg and PBS are still on 61.5.

The only problem spots would be 20,21,& 22. They can run double power, but the major problem is the low look angle from the west. It is possible that they may offer double power and a larger dish for those in Washington, Oregon, and California. Double power and a larger dish would help those with obstructions like trees get enough signal.

The only interactive service planned is Mag Rack. The demo actually rather good. You can read articles and watch video clips from electronic versions of magazines.

I don't think there is going to be much room for LPTV and Class-A. For example: The "Chicago" spot has 5 cities with 55 Full Power Stations. 55 + 4 regional channels = 59 channels. At about 12 channels per TP the spot would be completly full if the spot has 5 TPs.

From the look of the map it appears that they will be using 2 or 3 spot configurations. Possibly 1 configuration will have 5 TPs per spot and the other configuration would have 4 TPs. Each frequency reused 11 times. Or with a 3 spot configuration one spot would have 5 TPs and the other two would have 2 TPs each. Each frequency would then be reused 7 times with 6 TPs as spares (this seems more realistic).

I'll go through the spots and estimate how many TPs each would need to have.

#8 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 09:49 PM

Really? I don't see Bloomberg from 61.5 on my EPG. Only Bloomberg on ch 203 appears.I don't get any PBS from Dish, so I wouldn't know about that.

How will they implement Mag Rack on DBS? I visited http://www.magrack.com/ and was surprised to find out what this is. I had envisioned it being a selection of "magazines" each (only) containing graphics and text which could be downloaded and presented as any other interactive DBS channel. Since it actually contains a form of VOD, will they implement it by using a PVR and caching content locally? It appears they could do this with a minimum of trouble. It'd be very cool if all of R/L's DBS receivers (or at least, the vast majority) were PVRs as well. Even cooler if the feature was included free for life or they'd "activate" PVR for a lifetime for a lump sum (which would survive sale and transfer of the unit).

I'm willing to give up on LP's and CA's. That's just an idea tossed out there.

BUT - since it appears the spots (at least some of em) are big enough to cover multiple DMA's, I'd love to at least be able to get any "Metro ____" channels (produced by Rainbow, I assume, and therefore not subject to rebroadcast restrictions in this case) which are from other areas in my spot. I'd even pay a buck or two more perhaps.

#9 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 09:23 AM

I'm getting Bloomberg on 207. It says it is moving to 203 on 119. Same with PBS it also says it is moving to 119. This will probably anger some SA subs that just sub to Bloomberg and/or PBS.

That is my guess that R/L DBS will be using some type of PVR receiver to save the video portions of the magazines.

R/L DBS has said that those in the spotbeams would have access to more channels than those not in a spot beam. What isn't known is their plan for packaging channels. What is known is that if you are in a beam you will have access to the regional channels regardless if your locals are offered, but they may bundle the regional channels with with the locals in LIL DMAs. Which would make sence as these channels are new and they want people watching.

It may be something like this:
1. If you are in a beam and your LIL market is offered the regional channels and the locals are bundled into one package.
2. If you are in a beam and your market isn't offered you get the regional channels.
3. If you are in 1 & 2 you have to take that package first before adding the national package.
4. If you are outside a beam the only package you can get is the national package.

Their original plan was if you were in one of their LIL markets you would get the locals, regional channels, and the national channels. If you were outside one of their LIL markets you couldn't get R/L DBS at all. Since the merger announcement they have changed their plan and want to offer a (though limited since they don't have the space) national service to give those a choice between providers.

I do hope the FCC grants them TPs 23 & 24 so that they can offer at least a 48 channel national package rather than a 24 channel package. This was their argument before the FCC that granting them TPs 23 & 24 would allow them to offer a more robust national package to better compete with the New EchoStar.

IMHO there would probably be many defectors that sub to AT-50 and AT-100 going to R/L DBS with a 50 channel service that offered many of the (Namely Rainbow Channels) that are in AT-100 at a cheaper price. More defectors if they offered a free repoint and receiver. If you look, 7 of the channels owned by the owners of R/L DBS are most likely going to be in the "cheap" national package that are in the "higher" priced AT-100.

#10 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 07:38 PM

Maybe I only see one Bloomberg on my EPG because I don't sub to it.

I think there is at least a profitable niche for R/L to pick up some Top 50 and Top 100 customers, as well as some of the "abandoned" SA* customers that only got one or two channels from Dish.

(Hint: It'd be great if they offered a lower-priced service that included only "G" rated basic channels. Personally, I would most likely want the "full basic" but surely some would object to channels like MMUSA.)

Something else they should consider is offering "News only" ala carte.

BTW, I agree that it'd be good for them to get two more TPs to enhance their national service, particularly in light of the merger.

I wonder how aggressively they'll market their service?

I hope that it is sold on a nondiscriminatory national basis however - I don't want another Primestar - where you have to buy it (essentially) from your local cable company. (Yes, I know that New Yorkers would be buying it from their local cable company, but what I don't want is "franchises" (for lack of a better word) being granted to other cable companies across the nation.)

I also don't want exclusive rights to be sold to some entity like Pegasus for certain areas.

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 09:12 PM

I dont like the fact Cablevision is part of it. Really it would be cable in the sky. Rates wouldnt be cheap and I dont see how they could compete with DirecTV and Dish. Who'd want a 40 channel package for $40 when you can get 150 channels for $40.

Another Philly locals package is useless too. Especially without CCSN. CN8 also is gaining popularity. But all the local broadcast channels are carried on DirecTV and Dish except (WPHA 28-LP TELEFUTURA, WMGM 40 NBC ATLANTIC CITY, WTVE 51 READING, WPPX 61 PAX, WBPH 60 BETHLEHEM). Another locals package would be useless when DirecTV and Dish are already providing the networks, NJN, WB, UPN.

#12 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 10:08 PM

Wouldn't it be more useful to have Philly locals on 61.5 than 129 though, for Dish customers? Granted, it's a two dish solution, not a one dish solution, but particularly for those who already have a 61.5 antenna and/or don't want the larger dish that 129 reception requires, it seems it would be nice to get them from 61.5.

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Posted 17 April 2002 - 05:37 PM

I would prefer 61.5. But 61.5 was full with locals from across the East coast, and Philly has a low DBS penetration and too many stations from the Philadelphia market requested carriage including:

WHYY 12 (PBS)
WPHL 17 (WB)
WPSG 57 (UPN)

Dish made space for these above three on CONUS 110.

But,
WNJS 23 (PBS) NJN
WYBE 35 (NCE)
WLVT 39 (PBS)
WMGM 40
WGTW 48
WTVE 51
WWAC 53
WBPH 60
WWSI 62(TMNDO)
WUVP 65(UNI)
WFMZ 69

Also all requested carriage.
Dish rejected WLVT 39.

WNJS 23
WYBE 35
WGTW 48
WWSI 62
WUVP 65
WFMZ 69 are carried currently on 129.

WMGM 40 (NBC) and WBPH 60(Ind.) still want carriage, but costs are overwhelming but do say maybe by year end. They did request carriage, and the problem is getting signal to Philadelphia.

WWAC 53(Ind.) should be available shortly. Its not listed on Dish Network's website, but I spoke with them and they said soon. I dont know why its taking Dish so long to make it available.

Both WGTW 48 and WFMZ 69 want to be carried with the other Philadelphia stations. Dish may accomodate room on 110 for these two only.

I have no idea on WTVE 51's status but all they air is ShopNBC with infomercials at night. I do know they did request carriage, and believe Dish even reserved a channel space for them.

When their were 100s of stations requesting carriage, Dish probably felt they had to lease space on 129. Since they are leasing it, they figured they better use it, rather than dropping channels from 61.5 or trying to fit room for potential channels.

#14 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 18 April 2002 - 05:44 PM

Well, actually, I suppose I wasn't very clear.

What I meant to suggest, is that if R/L DBS provided Philadelphia locals on 61.5, then Dish subscribers in that area might choose to buy locals from R/L rather than Dish.

See, it would still be on 61.5, just not on any of Dish's owned or leased TPs.

#15 OFFLINE   bryan27

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Posted 18 April 2002 - 06:09 PM

jegrant, not only that, but think of how much less rain fade there would be. My EL for 61.5 is 40. With E* there is only rain fade when the rain is severe. When 119 goes out I switch to something on 61.5. With double powered TPs and spotbeams on R/L DBS rain fade for those east of the Mississippi will be very rare.

#16 OFFLINE   jegrant

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 06:20 PM

I agree, I get better consistent signal strengths from 61.5 than any other slot in the sky.

I am a Sky Angel customer, and I listen to some of the radio channels nearly constantly when I am home - they hardly ever go out, even in terrible storms, there have only been very brief interruptions.




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