If Directv is going to use D15 for a replacement at say 101, would it make sense to make all channels mpeg4? sure it would be nice to have all replaced with HD, but we all know that isn't going to happen. However, mpeg4 would make the SD channels look better.
Just a thought.
How long after bringing out the MPEG2 HD DirecTIVO did they wait before they obsoleted the entire line? Seems there are some still angry about that.
The current boxes are available that output composite AV and S-video, along with HD. Legacy SDTVs can be fed a signal from the current HD boxes.
While we talk about the equipment change out costs, that ignores the cost of maintaining the SD signals. Channel providers are starting to only provide HD signals (e.g ESPN). This means lower distribution costs for the provider. You would only need to uplink one signal and you wouldn't need to have the equipment to downconvert the signal and send it up for distribution.
My bet is DirecTV has a number of people running models and comparing operating costs and revenue projections for various scenarios. They are probably closely tracking HD vs SD dish installs (one HD receiver requires an HD dish), and ratio of HD to SD receivers. They can probably give pretty accurate predictions of when 50% and 75% of new install receivers will be HD. The also know the rate at which SD receivers are being replaced by HD ones. Since joining DirecTV 4 years ago, I retired 2 of 3 SD TVs and replaced them with HD TVs. The last SDTV is in a guest room and never watched (something else I am sure DirecTV can track). Surely, they can also give a decent date estimate of when the number of operating SD receivers will fall below a threadhold making separate broadcast no longer cost effective/profitable.
The question is whether, when they need to contract for, and begin construction of a replacement of the current SD satellites, will it make sense economically to continue to broadcast SD signals. Given that multiple satellites are involved in SD delivery, I could imagine a scenario where they slowly reduce services available SD only (e.g movie premiums and/or PPV require an HD receiver) during the transition period. This way, they could wean SD customers from their SD equipment without forcing people to switch all at once.
There where so few of the HD Tivos out there in comparison to mpeg2 only boxes, its not even a comparable situation.
They don't need to replace a single sat to switch to all hd and get rid of sd channels. The problem with killing the sd feeds is in peoples homes. Any sat they launch today as a replacement for one already up there is likely to have all the abilities for anything it replaces and more.
I also feel that replacing and adding sats has ZERO to do with hd and mpeg 4 in the big picture. Its all about capacity in general. The more capacity they have, the more channels and services they can have. We have already seen they have some On Demand content on a sat. I don't think they will stop adding sats until hey can offer all they have and more via sat if its monetarily possible to do it and not hinder their profits. I think the BSS sat packages will be all about that.
The entire post is one of few that delves into the whole of the big picture. There are lots of costs to balance out and I am sure DIRECTV has the numbers modeled very thoroughly.
To me the first enabler will be when it is no more expensive to produce MPEG4 boxes than MPEG2 only boxes. Then DIRECTV will cut off the new shipments of MPEG2 boxes into the supply chain.
The next sign might be no more 18" dish installs. Or removing the D series from installs and replacements.
It will be a very long-term evolution. So long-term, you really can't even call it a project yet.
Until the number of active MPEG2 receivers falls below 5M, it will still be less expensive to launch another satellite. (Generally speaking that is.)
And yes, absolutely, I expect DIRECTV will use the same techniques to encourage people to swap off SD receivers in groups as they did before. Slowly turning off SD services and offering economical upgrades to those last holdouts.
I think that they already are killing off SD MPEG2, but only based on obvious opportunity right now. They are launching all their new Local DMAs and the ones they moved off 79 to MPEG-4 only DMAS. That's the start...
BUT I don't think they are even close to a proactive effort about killing off old equipment till they have bss equipment being deployed. We don't know what all will be required to receive BSS stuff yet, but they know what that is, and till its launched, there is no point in starting the process. And as you said it will be gradual.
When they went to a lease model, they decided that every box they produce will have a lifespan of X. And they wont stop using them till X years has passed by, so if the boxes that we have now can't in some way receive BSS...
Now if they can, via a new SWIM setup, then maybe, just maybe you could make the argument they have begun the process in general by starting to filer the newer hardware out there via natural attrition. I don't see a focused decision till they realize they can't launch any more sats (no more bandwidth available, and no need to replace any for a while) for x number of years and they might as well spend that type of development money on swapping out to newer hardware, and hey have the bss capable dishes ready to be installed.
I wouldn't be surprised if they followed the same path as they did with the HR10's. First Sports packages, then by dma, and then one final call to everyone that just waited and procrastinated. But again, till they have definitive BSS hardware, what would be the point in even worrying about costs of boxes on mpeg2 vs. mpeg 4 being the qualifier to move to all mpeg 4, unless there is an unexpected mass exodus to only mpeg4 hardware by the subs without any push by directv. That might move up their plans if a push to non bss but mpeg 4 hardware would be so low in comparison to costs of continuing to feed sd versions of channels that it made sense.
I am hoping that all the current mpeg 4 equipment will be able to receiver bss sat stuff with a new swim and dish. That would be nice.
I'd love to know all the details on how many of each kind of box is left out there, and by dma. How many people are still using non directv branded hardware somewhere in their house.