DirecTV 2019 Price Increases

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Programming' started by codespy, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    You are correct, I don’t understand your conception of how live tv is currently distributed over the existing ip network to literally millions of consumers in the US and millions more in other countries.
     
  2. sbl

    sbl Icon DBSTalk Club

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    Sorry, didn't see this until now. I get all of those except 217. (I never watch sports, so these channels are unimportant to me.)

    This question was about PREFERRED XTRA Standard, the unlisted package I have which omits RSNs and their fees.
     
  3. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

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    Thanks, no 217 would be a deal breaker for me. My physically handicapped son loves to watch Tennis.
    Thanks for taking the time to check for me.
     
  4. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    It is not being done with a single packet leaving a single CDN to reach "millions" of subscribers. Assuming you are talking about OTT subscribers (Directv Now, DISH SlingTV, PSVue, etc.) the customers are getting individual live streams directed from a CDN to their device. Each stream adds to the provider's bandwidth usage. If there is not enough bandwidth for all the active devices either devices must be dropped (no access for some users) or the bandwidth to each device needs to be reduced (everybody suffers). (The "CDN" itself is a simplification since it is a network of encoders, servers and equipment that serves as where the content enters the public Internet.)

    Most streaming conversation discusses the one inch water pipe entering the home. How much water can one get through that pipe per minute? If it isn't enough, buy a bigger pipe. The same concept applies at the other end of the connection (and at every point along the route). The 10 inch water main in your street may seem huge until there is a high demand (such as a fire) and the pipe runs dry. One can have a 24ft diameter pipe at the reservoir and still need a second one to handle the capacity for a major city (and a third to serve as a backup when one of the first two goes down). The water companies rely on not having every customer consume every drop of water they can consume at the same time. Electric utilities work the same way ... when demand exceeds the capacity of the network they have brown outs and black outs. The same rules apply to the Internet. The connection between the ultimate source and every destination is not unlimited.
     
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  5. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    You are correct, distribution of live TV via the internet works differently than distribution of live TV via satellite or OTA. Your water pipe analogy doesn't really hold water (LOL) with how the technology works though. We have seen bandwidth/capacity of internet connections both on the backbone and to individual consumers expand incredibly over the years and their are no real signs it is going to slow down or stop soon. In fact just the opposite.
     
  6. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    The point is that there is a limit. If not in the huge pipe between the reservoir and the city or in the distribution system around the city there is a limit somewhere. Ask Californians what happens when the reservoir runs dry.

    The same applies to the Internet. There is no such thing as an unlimited connection. "Unlimited" only exists in marketing BS. Every step the service providers take to increase bandwidth (in the hope that the limit isn't reached) costs money.

    CDNs have to pay for storage, servers and bandwidth. The more customers served the more resources they have to buy. And while there are companies that make scaling up resources easy , adding storage, servers and bandwidth is not free.
     
  7. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    You are right it’s not unlimited. But again your water pipe analogy, in this case, is a poor way to look at it. It artificially restricts your thinking. As just one example, can you increase the capacity of the pipe by pumping green water and red water...no but you can do exactly that on a cable, as an example, just by using different frequencies. Not to mention the fact that you can't pump water OTA. And while I agree that capacity is not unlimited, we are way far away from even coming close to reaching the limits even without any real “new invention”. I have been in the technology industry for 40 years...I wish I had a dime for every time someone said something couldn’t be done or we were reaching some impassable limit. Yes, it all costs money...TANSTAAFL.
     
  8. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Using multiple lasers can increase the capacity of a given strand of fiber, but you still need to replace the equipment on both ends, plus any amplifiers in the middle, to make that happen. And you have to do it in at least two places, since you can't have important traffic without redundant paths as there are too many mistakes made by backhoe drivers, or disasters like earthquakes, fires, etc. causing problems.

    The bandwidth of a single strand of fiber is NOT a limitation of bandwidth across the internet or within an ISP, there are plenty of dark fibers all over the place. The limitation is as James Long says, in capacity for routers, servers and so forth. Having a fiber handle 10x as much capacity thanks to new transceivers on either end is fine, but you need to upgrade everything else to actually DO anything with that 10x more capacity - or even 1.1x more capacity if you were already at your limit.
     
  9. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    I wasn't talking about fiber or lasers. I was talking about regular shielded cable that most people that use a cable co as their ISP have coming into their house.
    Anyway, I was really trying to make the point that the water pipe analogy just doesn't work in this context for many reasons, some of which I have already articulated.
    The bottom line is that IMHO, bandwidth/capacity, at least for those that have access to reasonably priced internet connections without onerous data caps, will not be an issue as we move forward in time (at least for individual home consumers - commercial is an entirely different scenario). How that capacity will be delivered, whether by cable, wireless, fiber, or some other technology no one has even imagined yet, will be interesting to see. Yes their are costs involved. What those costs will be, who will bear those costs, how they will be divided up, and what will be more economical in the long run for both consumers and providers, will provide us all here with continuing opportunity for interesting discussion.
     
  10. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    The whole point of the example is that bandwidth is not free. Especially at the endpoints but nothing gets anywhere without a limited capacity link that someone paid for.

    Anyone who ignores the bandwidth costs while discussing streaming is only deceiving themselves.
     
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  11. evotz

    evotz Active Member

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    I would still like some actual figures, or guesstimations as to how much bandwidth costs.

    I think you all are vastly over estimating the bandwidth costs. No it's not free, but neither is building and launching a satellite.

    If you're thinking that a home cable connection with a 1TB cap costs you $60/mo, that's not how bandwidth pricing works in a datacenter environment.

    If bandwidth pricing is so expensive compared to building/launching satellites and all that it entails... why didn't Sony launch a satellite when it started Playstation Vue? PhiloTV? FuboTV? Hulu TV? Why didn't Google launch satellites when it started YoutubeTV?

    And yes, there will be other equipment involved in streaming besides just the bandwidth ... but there is also other equipment needed to operate satellite transmissions.

    I'm not saying that those company's streaming bandwidth bill isn't high. I'm asking if launching a satellite and everything else that is needed to use that satellite (like training a service guy, sending that service guy out to locations, installing a dish, etc) is cheaper than that streaming bandwidth bill?

    I say it isn't... but maybe I am wrong.
     
  12. RAD

    RAD Well-Known Member

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    Dripping...
    I wonder how DIRECTV Now handles their streaming to handle the pausing function while watching live TV? Do all users of a channel get connected to a server which is buffering the stream so they can pause when wanted and if yes how are they handling the capacity on the server?
     
  13. crkeehn

    crkeehn Godfather

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    It doesn't, really. The live channel doesn't allow pausing, fast forward or rewind, although you can jump to the beginning. Pausing the live channel will only take you to the current spot when you return.

    The DVR function is the only thing that allows you to move within a program. On demand will allow you to pause and rewind but not fast forward.
     
  14. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Even if someone here was responsible for provisioning private links between company sites and had access to price lists, the only answer to that question would be "it depends". I might as well ask you what it costs to buy and maintain a car, or how much a trip to Europe costs. What are you going to answer to those other than "it depends"... It is even worse since AT&T is in the networking business, and internal transfer pricing is hell and makes it easy to hide cost or push it onto another division. They are also in the satellite business, the private network IP video business (Uverse TV) and have other streaming offerings (Directv Now) before the new 'Directv over IP' product arrives so even if they published figures on the cost there is no reason to believe they accurately reflect the true cost - only that they show what they want investors to believe.

    I've posted the math for building/launching/replacing Directv's satellite fleet before, but I kind of wish I hadn't since it distracts from the main point. I used the only figure I could find that a modern broadcast TV satellite costs $400 million to build and launch, and has a life of at least 20 years, and calculated that it would cost Directv 50 cents per subscriber (at the current 20 million subscribers) to replace their core satellites (T11, T12, T14, T15, T16) forever. However that cost is no longer relevant to Directv - once T16 launches next year all their core satellites should be expected to last at least a decade from now, and probably a bit longer. They won't need any of the other satellites once they drop MPEG2 SD, it doesn't matter that the satellites at 110 and 119 are old and will soon run out of fuel. So people need to quit worrying about what it costs to build satellites. They've already built their last one, and it launches next year. Their future satellite build/launch costs will be $0.

    I don't know how anyone could even guess what it costs to staff/maintain their satellite broadcast centers, which is another component of ongoing cost even with the ongoing cost of replacing satellites at zero, but keep in mind a lot of that cost is duplicated between satellite and streaming. Most of the cost unique to satellite, like uplink dishes, statmuxs etc. are sunk costs - the equipment is already purchased and installed, so the only cost they incur on an ongoing basis to keep broadcasting satellite is maintenance/repair of that satellite-specific equipment and the staff who operates that equipment and performs its maintenance. What does that cost, who the hell knows? But divided by 20 million subscribers it isn't much. Even if 90% of satellite subscribers left and it was divided by only 2 million subscribers that's only $1 per month for every $24 million in yearly cost, which can be easily charged to those remaining subscribers.

    Streaming promises to get cheaper over time as servers/routers get more powerful, bandwidth becomes cheaper, and so on, so whatever satellite costs eventually streaming will be cheaper. I doubt it is cheaper today given that Directv no longer needs to build any satellites, but I can't prove that. Even if I'm wrong, and streaming is already cheaper, there's no incentive for them to switch existing customers to streaming since Directv would realize no savings from one customer leaving satellite, or even 10 million customers leaving satellite. The cost to keep it around is all or nothing.
     
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  15. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    The simple math of dividing the price of the satellite by the number of subscribers per month per year of the satellite's useful life shows that satellites are relatively cheap.
    If you look at the quarterly reports you will see that DISH spends about $45 million per month on satellite and transmission expenses.
    Don't claim victory yet ... they spent $56 million per month on administrative expenses and $62 million on subscriber acquisition. (And the $45 million also includes distribution to roughly 2.3 million Sling TV subscribers.)

    How often does that guy have to go out and install a dish? Once for every new subscriber? That isn't a monthly or annual expense ... And that $62 million paid for more than people and equipment (receivers, dishes, etc). It paid for advertising and payments to third party sellers. More than half (56%) of the subscriber acquisition cost was spent on advertising. That cost doesn't go away when satellites go away.

    All of these are minor costs compared to the cost of the content itself.

    (BTW: I'm providing DISH numbers because they are easier to find and not buried in the figures of a division.)
     
  16. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    PSVue, Hulu, SlingTV all allow you to pause rew and ff live tv. They use whatever streaming device you are running the app on to provide the buffer. They all differ on how long you can pause live tv (the available buffer space also restricts that obviously) and how you ff (on PSVue as an example you use the skip forward rather than ff). Shows that you add to the cloud DVR are handled differently.
     
  17. cmasia

    cmasia Icon

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    A couple pages back, I posted my total spend with DirecTV the past 4 years with no programming changes. AT&T bought DirecTV in 2015.

    2015 - $2,112
    2016 - $2,209
    2017 - $2,198
    2018 - $1,991

    If you have absorbed all the price increases from $145 to $185, only one or both of the following can be true:
    1) You don't read this forum.
    2) You don't want to bother to call in to ask for discounts.
     
  18. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure how applicable that $45 million number would be to Directv. The information I have (received recently in a message from nelson61 on satelliteguys) is that Dish only owns two of their satellites. The other nine are leased, mostly from Echostar. They also have two arcs, meaning they require more satellites than Directv (once they retire MPEG2 and the 95/110/119 locations) It is also complicated by the fact that one man has majority voting share of Dish and Echostar so contracts between them aren't necessarily arms length.

    Too bad we don't have a way of breaking out that $45 million between satellite lease expenses, Sling related expenses and satellite transmission expenses - that last would presumably be their cost to operate their satellite broadcast centers which ought to be roughly comparable to what Directv spends.

    We can probably estimate what it costs to lease a satellite per month. If you assume it costs $400 million to build/launch a satellite and it lasts 20 years, that would equate to a lease cost of over $1 million per month to defray that acquisition/interest cost. So leasing nine of them is probably around $15 million per month once profit is considered. It might even be more than that, since Dish's leases aren't for the full 20 year life, meaning the owner assumes risk that no one else will want it if Dish doesn't. So I might put that more like $20 million a month...

    At Directv's subscriber levels, ignoring whatever part of that is Sling, you're talking $1.25 per subscriber per month to operate the broadcast centers. Not a lot.
     
  19. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    Considering the ownership of both companies it is basically a paperwork issue. DISH is paying Echostar the same as they would be paying if they owned those satellites. Leased or owned it is a minor cost of doing business.

    I agree ... but we have the numbers we have.

    People freak out over the initial cost of a satellite and seem to forget that the value should be spread out over the life of the satellite. The $45 million may be a better way of comparing the costs. The satellites are useless without the uplink centers and backhauls so why not keep it simple say that it costs $4.44 per customer per month to support all of the infrastructure needed to keep the satellites active? (I'll give Sling TV a free ride and non speculate how much of that $45 million is actually Sling TV transmission.) When looking at the cost of streaming we are not limiting the cost to the initial build price of the encoders, servers and network - we are looking at the monthly cost of keeping the entire system running (please include bandwidth).

    If you want to pull numbers out of your ass and speculate what DIRECTV's cost per subscriber is that is fine. I'd rather stick to the numbers that are available. DISH's satellites are simple ku band DBS satellites with the most expensive part being the few satellites that have spotbeams (expensive at the time of purchase to add 100+ transponders, expensive after purchase to maintain multiple uplink centers to be able to use all the spot beams). DIRECTV has ku band, ka band and reverse band satellites that also require multiple uplinks. I doubt that turning off the spotbeams on the ku satellites (moving locals to ka) will significantly reduce their uplink costs. It certainly won't change the cost of a satellite already launched. Does your speculation of future costs include closing any DIRECTV uplink centers? Even if DIRECTV ceases using an orbital position they still need to keep their uplink centers open to serve the other satellites.

    It would be stupid for the leasing company to not factor in all of their future costs into the lease. I do not consider Ciel or Echostar to be stupid companies. There is not a good aftermarket for specialized satellites and the owners know that. I am sure that Ciel and Echostar are collecting enough during the guaranteed term of the lease to cover their expenses beyond the lease.
     
  20. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Directv appears to have one regional uplink center (ECUF) that handles only Ku spotbeams which would presumably be retired.

    The number of uplink centers is dependent on the frequency re-use across the total number of transponders, which is probably similar between the two. Dish has fewer total transponders to reuse but can share sites across both arcs so it is probably a wash. If you have any information about Dish's sites, please share. Directv does its spot beam uplinks for Ka/HD spotbeams from the two main broadcast centers, and four regional uplink facilities, for a total of six way frequency re-use.

    I'm not sure how much adding Ka or RB capability to a satellite increases its cost, Dish's satellites have a much larger spot beam load than Directv's (at least I remember they bragged about a recent launch being the largest spot beam satellite ever or something like that) which also increases cost. If Dish's satellites are cheaper to build that's offset by Dish needing more satellites thanks to using two arcs. They also might be more expensive in some ways to support the 'turbo' transponders with minimal roll off, rather than Directv's with the standard 20% roll off. The TWTAs and filters would presumably have to be designed to finer tolerances to support that.
     

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