How to ween customer from SD?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Rob, Sep 22, 2007.

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  1. bills976

    bills976 Godfather/Supporter

    Jun 30, 2002
    Lack of financial resources isn't an issue for me, but quite frankly I have better things to spend my money on. The $15/month "technology fee" + $200 HR20 lease fee + at least $800 for a new TV is way too much to justify spending.

    I have two SD sets that work fine. Heck my primary set is only 24". I watched the Super Bowl this past year in HD over at a friend's house, and the improvement in picture quality isn't enough for me to shell out that kind of money. Add that to the fact that I'd lose TiVo software and it's a definite no-go.
  2. wavemaster

    wavemaster Godfather

    Sep 15, 2007
    They said the same thing about cable 15 years ago. Add channels, require a box to get them, only customers with a box can get them. That was back when there was only 30 channels.

    Bad plan eeh, it killed cable in the US, oh wait a minute, it's actually what built the cable industry.

    Bring on the HD. The sooner the better!
  3. Thaedron

    Thaedron Hall Of Fame

    Jun 29, 2007
    Just what exactly is the business driver behind the "need" to ween people off of SD?
  4. wavemaster

    wavemaster Godfather

    Sep 15, 2007
    With the average set cost of just over 900.00 the average surround sound setup at 500.

    Add to that HD-DVD or BlueRay and the need to rebuild the collection....

    It's the next industry gold rush.

    Follow the money.

    Sony alone would make billions with only a fraction of the market share.

    Being a sizable content provider as well, they would see it on each end.
  5. LDLemu4U

    LDLemu4U Legend

    Oct 16, 2006
    Was that 15 yrs ago....I would say more! I would say maybe 25! I would think the proper word is not "ween" will just evolve by itself. It is coming, might not take 25 years but coming!
  6. racermd

    racermd Legend

    Dec 17, 2006
    Too true. And a few points to add:

    1: It's nearly impossible to find a non-HD set out there anymore. Not saying it's actually impossible (there are some out there), but they're getting rarer by the day as the cost to manufacture HD displays keeps coming down.

    2: Even the HR20 will output HD content on its non-HD outputs, it just doesn't look as nice. However, it looks much better than the SD feeds on the same output, even on a non-HD display.

    3: Eventually, when (nearly) all the legacy equipment has been replaced, nobody will have a choice but to accept HD content, anyway. The bandwidth costs are higher for HD content, sure. But if the existing SD content is removed, it can offset at least some of that cost by re-utilizing the recovered bandwidth. This assumes, of course, that the entire channel lineup is HD. At that point, it won't cost any of you any more to receive than the rest of us. In fact, the costs should come down as the market moves everything - from STB production to content creation to signal delivery - to HD. The costs of doing so get cheaper as the processes are refined.

    Besides, this is all academic, anyway. There's no immediate plans to cut SD feeds. Those of you complaining about costs have nothing to worry about, really.

    However, you might want to re-think your spending priorities if you're a D* subscriber and are that concerned about how much you pay per month. As a business, D* has the bottom line in focus. As it does its longevity in the market. HD is most definitely the future of broadcast television and D* can't afford to not get themselves in the game. It's going to happen sooner or later and you'll eventually be forced to get HD equipment at some point. If not because you feel like you're missing out it'll be because that's all that'll be available.

    So - can we stop the bickering and let the HD revolution take its inevitable course?
  7. gully_foyle

    gully_foyle Hall Of Fame

    Jan 18, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Exactly. Used to be that DirecTV on a good SD set like my 1992 Sony XBR was the best TV available, better than broadcast. But long before hidef, the NAB lobbyists paid off enough Congressmen to force D* to give every TV station in the country a satellite channel. At my expense. So they stole bitrate from national to do local, long before "spotbeams." Every local channel was a national channel at one point.

    And not enough of us complained, so they thought we couldn't tell.

    The really funny thing is that the OP is accidentally correct: D* will convert everyone over to HD boxes, by and by. But only because it will be easier. If you look at the transponder allocation chart, you'll notice that D8 has 144 authorized Ka band transponder frequencies at 99, 101 and 103, plus 32 Ku band. Those 144 TPs are all to be used for HD one way or another (and as spot beams they can cover many markets with one TP frequency).

    So, we'll get enough HD real soon now from D10, D11 and the converted 8S and 9S. And once everyone has Ka band equipment, the difference between SD and HD will be only in what you hook up.
  8. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Rob and bjlc are both right at a certain point of time. Today (but not very much longer!) bljc can keep and enjoy SD (ugh) distants. To me, HD trumps SD distants, especially with a DVR (Ok, 7 :)) I can't imagine viewing TV without a DVR and less and less SD. :)

    Rob is just ahead of himself. The project he envisions requires a couple of enabling events: 1) MPEG4 receiver cost to drop to within a dollar of the SD receiver cost, 2) the digital conversion of broadcast. Even at that, the plan to swap out 40M receivers will take 5 years, I would guess. Until that is at least 80% complete, DIRECTV can not even think about taking away SD content that is available today.

    Now, content providers can (and will) start dropping SD when it becomes economically viable to do so. Some will start dropping when HD truly hits critical mass of homes. So far all HD is managed to hit critical mass to survive and grow. But not enough to kill SD channels yet.

    Timing is everything. HD is coming!

    Oh and why get rid of SD right now? DIRECTV will have more capacity in January(ish) than there are HD channels to put up. No need to start removing SD at all.

  9. Milominderbinder2

    Milominderbinder2 Cutting Edge: ECHELON '08

    Oct 8, 2006
    Every business needs it's old customer base.

    Per the conference calls, it costs $680 to upgrade a receiver to HD. $400 alone for an HR20 for instance and the rest in installation and call center load.

    Multiply that times maybe 35 million SD receivers in place and you add up costs of

    $23 Billion

    to upgrade all of the existing SD receivers.

    DIRECTV does not gross that much a year.

    Right now many of us are getting HR-20's for $19.

    I think that DIRECTV's real problem is how do you keep 35 million boxes from being upgraded too quickly.

    At some point even the SD customers are going to figure out that the new HD boxes work great with their old TV's. And worse they will figure out how much they would still gain from HD boxes on old SD TV's.

    So the real challenge for DIRECTV is not to get the old SD's to convert.

    It is to keep them out in the back pasture as long as possible.

    - Craig
  10. rcoleman111

    rcoleman111 Guest

    Please provide the source of these subcriber numbers you are quoting.
  11. cartrivision

    cartrivision Hall Of Fame

    Jul 25, 2007
    I disagree as far as for what DirecTV will be broadcasting from their satellites. I predict that within 5 years, all DirecTV signals will be MPEG4 HD despite the fact that they will still have millions of SD customers. In 5 years, all of DirecTV's SD customers will have receivers that receive the one and only signal for each channel.... a HD signal.... and downconvert it to SD if that is what their subscription calls for.

    Satellite broadcasting capacity is very expensive to procure and maintain, giving DirecTV a huge financial incentive to stop broadcasting a SD mirror of HD channels and instead let the receiver convert the HD signal to SD for their SD customers.
  12. cartrivision

    cartrivision Hall Of Fame

    Jul 25, 2007
    The flaw in your logic is the assumption that DirecTV would just decide one day to immediately swap out all of the SD boxes for a new box. It won't happen that way.

    As customers churn out, the new SD customers that are signed up to replace them will be installed with the new advanced boxes that receive the HD MPEG4 channels and downconvert them to SD.

    Given DirecTV's 1.6% monthly churn rate, they would be able to equip about 1/5 of their customers with the new "HD to SD" boxes each year by simply making the new boxes the standard for all new SD installs, so in just a few years, the vast majority of receiver upgrades could be accomplished just through the normal customer attrition/new sign-up process.

    This slow process of receiver upgrading will last many years, but it will happen, and when the remaining number of old SD receivers is small enough, they will do a free upgrade of these and finally turn off all SD broadcasts.
  13. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    40M recievers will not be swapped out by 5 years from now. Consider for a moment that the base receivers are still the D11 and D12, not capable of MPEG4. And your estimate that 1/5th of the user base turns over does not translate to I'll be gone in 5 years. I still have two non-mpeg4 receivers on my account, my dad has several. Both of us have been around for 10 years. My daughter has 3 SD receivers and, while she might add an HD one someday, she likely won't be removing the SDs until she swaps out TVs.

  14. Tom Servo

    Tom Servo Icon

    Mar 7, 2007
    I don't think that scenario will ever happen in our lifetimes.

    There are going to be some SD channels on the ol' TV for... Forever. Is there really any incentive for channels like C-SPAN, FitTV, TV Land or to be in HD? Or RFD-TV, BYU-TV or even NASA TV? :p

    It'd be a waste of bandwidth to upconvert these channels to HD. HOWEVER -- they could one day be converted to MPEG-4 to save bandwidth.

    I see a time in the future where many SD channels get moved to MPEG-4 for that very reason (the savings could be used to restore a higher level of PQ. Or add more religious and shopping channels. :grin: )
  15. cartrivision

    cartrivision Hall Of Fame

    Jul 25, 2007
    I never said that they would, but it would only take 3 years to swap out half of them using current churn rates, and that doesn't factor in all the people who will be upgrading to HD receivers voluntarily. Make no mistake. The end of SD DirecTV signals is not that far off.
  16. cartrivision

    cartrivision Hall Of Fame

    Jul 25, 2007
    You completely missed the concept being discussed. What is going away is SD broadcasts of channels that have an HD version.... which whether you realize it or not, will be at least 90% of the channels by the end of the decade.

    In fact, every major broadcast network station and affiliate will no longer have an SD broadcast of their station in a little more than a year from now. People with SD sets will be watching those stations via some method where the HD signal is received and downconverted to SD. The same will happen shortly for all channels received by DirecTV customers, just not by early 2009 as will be the case for the broadcast networks.

    Additionally if you don't think that NASA TV will be HD in 5 years you are naive. Discovery HD recently aired the first live HD broadcast from the International Space Station, and NASA is well on it's way to going HD, and since Universal HD now broadcasts shows such as Hogan's Heros and Charlie's Angels in HD, TV Land will be doing so very soon also.

    You can hang on to your antique SD TV set for as long as you want to because there will always be ways to downconvert all the programming that is broadcast in HD only for viewing on SD sets, but that wont change the fact that almost all SD broadcasts are very near to being nothing but a memory.
  17. tonyn

    tonyn Cool Member

    Aug 3, 2007
    So sad and so very true. Back before color adjustment was automatic, I'd walk into someone elses house and gag at the green or magenta faces and milky blacks. I'd take it upon myslef, rudely, to adjust their picture amid protests to "leave it alone, it's fine!', then finally hearing "Wow that looks so much better! You're a genius! Way back before Automatic Fine Tuning it seemed that most people just loved sound bars in the picture!!

    How many people miss out on many of the cool features of many things they own, like cars, because they somehow think it is ungodly to read an instruction manual!!

    Goes along with the social stigma toward even knowing what a jack is, much less how to use it to change a tire. Better to be beaten half to death and have your car stripped while on a lonely road waiting for road service that to be self-reliant.

    Animals seem to be instinctively sensible, Humans think themselves too smart to need common sense!
  18. Peapod

    Peapod Godfather

    Oct 14, 2006
    You seem to be confusing standard vs. high definition with the upcoming transition from analog to digital broadcasting. There is no requirement for any tv station to ever transition to HD.
  19. falken

    falken Legend

    Jun 14, 2007
    We don't all live in LA... being beaten to death and having your car stripped isn't really commonplace here while waiting. I suppose if you are changing your own tire you at least have the tire iron in your hand to fend them off while you get the tire changed. :)
  20. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    You keep presuming that the 1.6% churn rate applies to the whole population of DIRECTV customers. It does not. To apply as you indicate, I would have been required to have left twice in the past 10 years, as would have my dad. How long have you been with DIRECTV. Would you have been required to leave. :)

    The 1.6% is measured across the whole, but really only is a continuing churn of a much smaller group that regularly go from provider to provider looking for that best deal. (or don't pay their bills regularly, so get booted.) DIRECTV has worked very hard to pre-qualify new customers to minimize that segment and thereby reduce their churn.

    Anyway, a churn rate of 1.6% does not mean in three years 50% of receivers will be replaced by new customers coming online.

    Note too, DIRECTV is leasing and reusing boxes. That program is ramping up, new users will be getting refurbished SD boxes.

    Again, with the base box being SD still, the end of SD DIRECTV is not tomorrow. Not February 18, 2009. Maybe February 18, 2014. But I wouldn't count on that either.

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