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Fox News vs CNN Picture Quality


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#1 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:55 PM

I just got a new HDTV and noticed for the first time that Fox News HD and Fox Business HD are in 720p while CNN and CNBC both are at 1080i.

Frankly it is quite noticable and CNN looks quite a bit better. Why is Fox News at the lower resolution? Does it save DirecTV money to carry it like that or was that a Fox News decision? And how does Fox benefit from the lower resolution?

What other HD channels are really at 720p? :confused:

Edited by mitchflorida, 18 March 2013 - 11:02 PM.


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#2 OFFLINE   charlie460

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:58 PM

First off, no linear TV channels broadcast in 1080p, they're 1080i.

To answer your other questions, all Fox/Disney stations broadcast in 720p, it's not a DirecTV choice. FX, Fox, Fox Sports, ABC, ESPN, etc, are all 720p.

#3 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:02 PM

First off, no linear TV channels broadcast in 1080p, they're 1080i.

To answer your other questions, all Fox/Disney stations broadcast in 720p, it's not a DirecTV choice. FX, Fox, Fox Sports, ABC, ESPN, etc, are all 720p.



How does it benefit Fox and Disney and ESPN to have inferior picture resolution? Does it save them lots of money?

#4 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 04:33 AM

720p is not inferior to 1080i, it is just different. 1080i delivers 60 "frames" of 540x1920 video per second which the TV reconstructs into 30 frames of 1080x1920. 720p delivers 60 frames per second of 720x1280 video which require no further processing. Some people think the higher frame rate is desirable for certain kinds of content, while others prefer the higher vertical resolution. In the early days, the deinterlacing process was thought to cause defects in the image.

The actual video data rate delivered is nearly identical (roughly 50 versus 60 million pixels per second). The choice was made back when digital broadcasting was first being implemented. According to statements at the time, ABC and FOX chose 720p because it was better for high action content like sports. CBS and NBC chose 1080i. Those choices rippled out across their respective "cable" channels as well.

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#5 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:07 AM

720p is not inferior to 1080i, it is just different. 1080i delivers 60 "frames" of 540x1920 video per second which the TV reconstructs into 30 frames of 1080x1920. 720p delivers 60 frames per second of 720x1280 video which require no further processing. Some people think the higher frame rate is desirable for certain kinds of content, while others prefer the higher vertical resolution. In the early days, the deinterlacing process was thought to cause defects in the image.

The actual video data rate delivered is nearly identical (roughly 50 versus 60 million pixels per second). The choice was made back when digital broadcasting was first being implemented. According to statements at the time, ABC and FOX chose 720p because it was better for high action content like sports. CBS and NBC chose 1080i. Those choices rippled out across their respective "cable" channels as well.


I can't say anything regarding sports content, because I don't watch a lot of it. However, there is no question that CNN looks much better than Fox and Fox Business on just plain, everyday sort of viewing. And based on what I have read on these forums before, most people would disagree with you that 720p PQ is just as good as 1080i. That hasn't been my experience, but would like to hear what others say.

By the way, 60 million is 20 percent more pixels than 50 million. 20 percent is significant. How would like your salary to go up 20 percent, or your mortgage payment? You would notice it.

Edited by mitchflorida, 19 March 2013 - 05:14 AM.


#6 OFFLINE   MysteryMan

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:15 AM

I can't say anything regarding sports content, because I don't watch a lot of it. However, there is no question that CNN looks much better than Fox and Fox Business on just plain, everyday sort of viewing. And based on what I have read on these forums before, most people would disagree with you that 720p PQ is just as good as 1080i. That hasn't been my experience, but would like to hear what others say.


All of my TVs were professionally calibrated and regardless which one I'm using I can see a slight difference between 720p broadcasts and 1080i broadcasts.

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#7 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:59 AM

I can't say anything regarding sports content, because I don't watch a lot of it. However, there is no question that CNN looks much better than Fox and Fox Business on just plain, everyday sort of viewing. And based on what I have read on these forums before, most people would disagree with you that 720p PQ is just as good as 1080i. That hasn't been my experience, but would like to hear what others say.

By the way, 60 million is 20 percent more pixels than 50 million. 20 percent is significant. How would like your salary to go up 20 percent, or your mortgage payment? You would notice it.


I did say "roughly"...to be precise, 1080i delivers 62,208,000 pixels per second to your screen and 720p delivers 55,296,000 or about 88% as many pixels. We also need to remember that these raw pixel counts are compressed for broadcast (once by the originator, then again by DirecTV). After two compression/decompression cycles the outcome is likely to be quite different than the simple pixel counts would indicate.

I'm not saying that you can't see a difference. I'm just saying that many other factors can effect PQ besides the pixel density. It is possible that the difference you see between CNN and FOX may be the result of the way the content is handled within the studio, at least in part.

I am not trying to defend one broadcast standard over another...I'm just pointing out that there is a difference in opinion and that the providers did have a rationale for the decisions they made.

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#8 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

All of my TVs were professionally calibrated and regardless which one I'm using I can see a slight difference between 720p broadcasts and 1080i broadcasts.


I would think this is the expected outcome...a slight, but visible, difference when examined carefully. That said, newscasts, generally, are not very demanding content. They are well lit (little to no deep shadows) and mostly involve people sitting or standing still in front of a low action backdrop. There is no reason to expect that a 1080i versus 720p format would make a big difference in perceived PQ in this case. Therefore, the difference is more likely to be related to the way the video is processed inside the studio, rather than the way it is broadcast.

For example, one possible explanation is that FOX might be ganging several channels together on their uplink and may be over-compressing them as a result.

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#9 OFFLINE   joed32

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 06:46 AM

How does it benefit Fox and Disney and ESPN to have inferior picture resolution? Does it save them lots of money?


When networks started switching to HD those two formats were available. Some chose to use 720p and some chose 1080i. It would be very expensive to switch at this point.

#10 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 07:00 AM

I would think this is the expected outcome...a slight, but visible, difference when examined carefully. That said, newscasts, generally, are not very demanding content. They are well lit (little to no deep shadows) and mostly involve people sitting or standing still in front of a low action backdrop. There is no reason to expect that a 1080i versus 720p format would make a big difference in perceived PQ in this case. Therefore, the difference is more likely to be related to the way the video is processed inside the studio, rather than the way it is broadcast.

For example, one possible explanation is that FOX might be ganging several channels together on their uplink and may be over-compressing them as a result.


National Geographic Wild, which is a Fox property, is at 720p. I haven't checked out Natinal Geographic yet . .it is crazy to have such low resolution on a nature channel. And it isn't hard to tell the difference if you have a good HDTV.

How much does it save Fox and Disney money to send their programming at the lower rate? The savings can't be very much compared to the quality that is lost. Everyday, people are getting rid of their 720p TVs and buying 1080p TVs to replace them.

Edited by mitchflorida, 19 March 2013 - 07:06 AM.


#11 OFFLINE   sweep49

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 07:23 AM

I watch tv on a 70" calibrated panel and the difference is not obviously noticeable. As other have said, it will be what it is.

Back in the day I was an audiophile and would constantly complain about the "noise" I could hear coming through the system. On day the wife advised me to just enjoy the music and stop listening for the "noise". It was good advice.

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#12 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 07:49 AM

I watch tv on a 70" calibrated panel and the difference is not obviously noticeable. As other have said, it will be what it is.

Back in the day I was an audiophile and would constantly complain about the "noise" I could hear coming through the system. On day the wife advised me to just enjoy the music and stop listening for the "noise". It was good advice.


I just got a 73" Mitsubishi DLP and the difference just pops out at you. I had never noticed it before I bought this particular set.

#13 OFFLINE   fleckrj

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:26 AM

National Geographic Wild, which is a Fox property, is at 720p. I haven't checked out Natinal Geographic yet . .it is crazy to have such low resolution on a nature channel. And it isn't hard to tell the difference if you have a good HDTV.

How much does it save Fox and Disney money to send their programming at the lower rate? The savings can't be very much compared to the quality that is lost. Everyday, people are getting rid of their 720p TVs and buying 1080p TVs to replace them.


It does not save them any money. As others have said previously, 720p is better than 1080i for fast motion, and that was what Fox and EXPN/ABC/Disney chose. To change from their original decision will cost them a lot, but at the time they made the original decision, there was no difference in cost. It was just a trade off between higher resolution versus smoother motion. While chosing the smoother motion might not make sense for Fox News, it does make sense for National Geographic and for sports channels.

Do you notice a similar difference between your local ABC and FOX stations (720p) versus your local NBC and CBS stations (1080i)? Also, how do you have your receiver set? Try switching between "native on" with all of the formats selected and "native off" with only 1080i selected. That will tell you whether your DirecTV receiver or your TV does a better job of scaling the signal. My bet is that with a high end TV, the TV will be better, but with a cheap TV the receiver will be better.

#14 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:33 AM

It does not save them any money. As others have said previously, 720p is better than 1080i for fast motion, and that was what Fox and EXPN/ABC/Disney chose. To change from their original decision will cost them a lot, but at the time they made the original decision, there was no difference in cost. It was just a trade off between higher resolution versus smoother motion. While chosing the smoother motion might not make sense for Fox News, it does make sense for National Geographic and for sports channels.

Do you notice a similar difference between your local ABC and FOX stations (720p) versus your local NBC and CBS stations (1080i)? Also, how do you have your receiver set? Try switching between "native on" with all of the formats selected and "native off" with only 1080i selected. That will tell you whether your DirecTV receiver or your TV does a better job of scaling the signal. My bet is that with a high end TV, the TV will be better, but with a cheap TV the receiver will be better.

Yes, it is native on, I figured that out after just a few minutes. It is better to use a brand new, expensive HDTV to create the best picture than to use a four year old cheap receiver (HR-24). There is about a 3-second delay between Resolution changes , but that is the price I have to pay.

My blu-ray player seems to send everything at pseudo-1080p, and my tv deals with it somehow.

If and when DTV converts to 1080p , I guess all the networks will have an incentive to settle on that standard. That might take 5 years of more to happen?

Edited by mitchflorida, 19 March 2013 - 09:56 AM.


#15 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:54 AM

...Everyday, people are getting rid of their 720p TVs and buying 1080p TVs to replace them.


Yet, survey after survey show that at least 40% of viewers with HDTVs are watching NO HD content on their HDTVs. A large portion of the balance watch SD even when HD is available (for example, by watching "channel 7" out of habit, when the HD version is on channel 907).

As others have said...the providers chose the format they did for reasons that seemed reasonable at the time. It would be prohibitively expensive to change it now. As infrastructure gets changed out over time, perhaps the situation will change, but for now it is what it is.

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#16 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 10:01 AM

...My blu-ray player seems to send everything at 1080p, and my tv deals with it somehow.


All modern HDTVs are progressive displays (the "p" in 720p and 1080p) - they all convert any interlaced constent to progressive. Blu-ray discs are all encoded at 1080p, and any other content (ie. Netflix, etc.) that may be supported by "smart" players is upconverted by the player itself. There are actually at least 2 1080p standards: 1080p24 and 1080p30, the 24 or 30 referring to the 'frame rate'. 1080p24 is most commonly used for content that originated on film (since it eliminates the need for pulldown) and 1080p30 is used for video/digital originating content. There are also variations to support 3D content.

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#17 OFFLINE   mitchflorida

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 11:05 AM

Even though they are supposedly "equal", I notice that all of the premium movie channels are in 1080i, not 720p. What do they know that we don't?

#18 OFFLINE   donalddickerson2005

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 11:15 AM

The best of the best is 4k TVs No I do not have one but I would love to.
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#19 OFFLINE   Diana C

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 11:15 AM

Even though they are supposedly "equal", I notice that all of the premium movie channels are in 1080i, not 720p. What do they know that we don't?


Nothing...why they chose 1080i has already been explained. (And, of course, a bunch of Encore theme channels are still only available in SD)

I doubt you'll see any broadcasters switch to 1080p transmission. The costs don't justify the return (which is basically zero).

The next big move in resolution will be when PPV moves to 8K (I don't think anyone will be investing in 4K with 8K hot on its heels).

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#20 OFFLINE   ShapeGSX

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 11:23 AM

Even though they are supposedly "equal", I notice that all of the premium movie channels are in 1080i, not 720p. What do they know that we don't?


Because they know that movies are 24 frames per second, and wouldn't get any benefit from running at 60 frames per second like 720p sports broadcasts do.

Better to stick with 1080i for lower frame rate broadcasts of movies and get the increased spatial resolution.




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