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Why can't consumers get C-Band anymore?

Discussion in 'FTA / Non Small Dish Satellite Area' started by Bigg, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    Why are most channels blocked for consumers with C-Band dishes? Rainier satellite has a select few channels, but most of the popular channels are not available. It would be ideal to be able to receive the original feeds without re-compression, yet it's not available. What gives?
     
  2. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    What kind of blocking they're using ?
     
  3. James Long

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

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    Subscription channels like to protect their content. They are under no obligation to offer customers a direct subscription or to offer a subscription through any specific provider. Those "blocked" feeds are intended for the cable and satellite providers who have contracts to deliver their service. If Rainier or another distributor can work out a deal the channels will become available to subscribers - until then end users will need to find other distribution channels (cable, satellite, streaming).
     
  4. RBA

    RBA Well-Known Member

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    Supply and demand is also a big part of the equation. Cband equipment is too expensive with too low a volume to reduce the cost. When C band was popular it required a $1500-3000 investment and a 7 1/2 ft or larger dish, then 18" dishes and free systems put the nail in C-bands coffin.
     
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  5. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    not yet, a lot of C-band sats/programs in Europe and Latin America, so 3.5M [12'] dish is dandy here ;)
     
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  6. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    Well, yes. I would expect strong encryption/protection to be a part of any subscription service. I wonder why more channels don't go through Rainier to make a complete package?

    Or will a vMVPD come along and offer full-bitrate non-re-compressed streaming for an extra fee? With the bandwidth available now, it's not crazy to think that streaming 15-20mbps from a live tv stream wouldn't be that hard.
     
  7. James Long

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

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    Perhaps they do not like Rainier's advertising practice of labeling all of their HD channels as "Ultimate HD"? Posing the question "do you have a 4K TV" then listing channels as "Ultimate HD" is very misleading. I would not want to be associated with such a company. (UHD is a 4K format - the channels labeled are not transmitted in 4K. Perhaps they are referring to "non-re-compressed" HD as the ultimate a subscriber can get, but words have meaning and "Ultimate HD" should not be used for a non-4K format.)

    As stated, the providers are under no obligation to deal with Rainier. Perhaps more will - but big dish satellite is not the direction that the industry is going.
     
  8. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    True, it's just unfortunate that they won't sell through Rainier or any other company that might get into the C-Band market. I've heard that the original feeds are gorgeous before MVPDs compress the crap out of them, and right now the only provider passing them directly through is Google Fiber TV in the markets that they have managed IPTV. I didn't see anything obvious about 4k on their site other than a coax cable, which of course is nonsense, as RG-59 from 30 years ago can carry 4k if it's modulated the right way. It would look very nice on a 4k TV though.

    Maybe they don't want to be offering a la carte channels on C-band which might anger MVPDs and vMVPDs where the big broadcasters are forcing 20 channels of garbage down the MVPD's throat for one channel they need? It would have to be more of a principle thing though, as it's not like BUDs are going to magically take away the entire cable/DBS market.
     
  9. dreadlk

    dreadlk Hall Of Fame

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    Oh if it was just as simple as that! I was in the C-Band business from 1979 until 1999. Your explanation explains only part of the reason but has more to do with the explosive growth of small dishes into the city areas in the latter years.

    A Lot of reasons behind why C-Band died had to do with Echostar and our good old friend Charley. I knew a lot of the guys at the top of the food chain back then because I purchased a lot of equipment. I only write this so that if this post lives on through this forum or the Way back machine etc. people will know that a lot of greed and deliberate sabotage sank C-Band. If you think it was just a dish size issue you will still find thousands of homes still have big C-Band dishes up for years after CBand died. You would think that people would have taken them down immediately if the thing was so offensive. It was not the rush for a smaller dish that killed CBand, after all most rural people which made up the mass of the customer base had no issues with space or even the looks of the dish.

    C-Band was killed in a very deliberate fashion by using the legal system and corporate handshaking to basically kill the programming content access which at the time was really under no single umbrella and therefore equipment and programming was available through many outlets. I think we had about 5 million owners at the peak and this was a Pie that Dishnet and DTV could not resist trying to slice up in order to get a foot hold in the market. And slice they did until nothing was left.

    Anyway i am not going to go into specifics for legal reasons but had C-Band survived it probably would be a major contender for all the current providers because it was exactly what people are looking for today, which is the ultimate cord cutting system.
    Buy and own a receiver that is cheap or expensive, your choice! You can deal and haggle with multiple programming providers.
    You can add individual stations or packages. Yep at one time that all existed but how do you make that into a multi billion dollar industry for just a few companies? You can't, so you kill it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
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  10. James Long

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

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    Setting aside the conspiracies ... Content owners want to be paid. They still do. While the industry eventually hacked together a system where content could be encrypted and protected, getting paid was a problem with early "big dish" distribution. Perhaps you do not agree with copyright laws and the supreme court decisions protecting copyright. The major content owners did not and do not uplink their content for individual home viewing. Those uplinks were intended to distribute their channels to cable systems who paid for the right to redistribute the content.

    DBS grew and thrived for the same reason why streaming is growing today. It was easier.

    "Big dish" required work. The "piece it together using various equipment" was a curse. I could run through the list of faults with C-Band. It starts with different decryption equipment needed for different channels, channels being spread out on satellites where the dish had to move to change channels, limits on how many channels could be watched simultaneously and needing to pay various providers. "Big Dish" adjusted, mainly to make things cheaper for their big customers - the cable companies. Channels were moved around to the point where a non-motorized dish could receive a decent lineup. But we also saw four degree spacing change to two degrees and expansion in to the Ku band requiring more equipment and better dishes. We also saw homes move from having a single TV to having multiple TVs.

    Then DBS came along ... small, easy to self install dishes that received "all the channels" from one satellite. Multiple receivers could be added to support receiving multiple channels at the same time. Home satellite service moved from the hobbyist level to the average consumer level. When the satellites filled the industry figured out how to provide "all the channels" from two orbital locations (without motors or choosing which bank of channels multiple TVs could watch). DISH now supports up to four orbital locations on one dish, DIRECTV has five on one dish (plus reverse band).

    Imagine the uproar among current DBS users if you told them they could only receive one channel at a time. Or that they would need to coordinate their viewing so that their second, third, fourth, etc. receiver would be viewing channels from the same satellite as the primary receiver. Sorry Timmy, but I'm watching sports on G1 ... you'll have to wait to watch cartoons on G3. And even in single TV homes (one channel received at a time? does that exist in 2018?) tell DBS users that they will need to wait 30-60 seconds to change channel and hope that the motor on the dish works.

    DBS is simply a better system for the average consumer than "big dish" systems. It took a while for DBS to grow the market and become profitable. But it didn't need a conspiracy to have consumers choose the easier path.
     
  11. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

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    Where is the 'beating a dead horse' smilie when we need it?
     
  12. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    it's here beathorse.gif
     
  13. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper

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    Sigh.... I remember watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during first-run when it was being fed to the stations via satellite for airing the following week. That time is long past.
     
  14. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    If there was no conspiracy to kill C-band, then why can't Rainier Satellite or others get the ability to offer fully featured packages for the few who do want it today? It's not like allowing end users to pay for access has much marginal cost to the operators of the C-band satellites, as they are there anyway for cable, IPTV, and DBS providers to access the same content.
     
  15. James Long

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

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    Content owners have the right to sell or not sell their content as they see fit. You might as well be complaining about why you can't see Netflix exclusive content with an Amazon or HBO subscription. Or CBS All Access exclusive content with a Hulu subscription. Or NFL Sunday Ticket with a Xfinity subscription. The content owners have decided that the best way to sell their content is the way each owner has chosen.
     
  16. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    C-Band is fundamentally different. C-Band is the master feed that everyone else uses. Why shouldn't consumers who want a 12-foot dish in their backyard be able to subscribe to packages of TV channels with that 12-foot dish? The only reason that Rainier Satellite or others can't get all those channels to behave is a conspiracy to block consumers from directly accessing those feeds. What I don't get is why the content providers are so against consumers having access, as it's not like 12-foot dishes are going to put a big dent in cable companies' or streaming companies' businesses. I guess DirecTV and DISH might be worried about rural customers, but even commercial customers aren't going to build a farm of 12-foot dishes behind their restaurant or hotel to pick up all the channels they need when they can put one little 32" dish in that picks it all up.
     
  17. James Long

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

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    The content providers want million dollar checks, not thousand dollar checks. Even if Rainier had a complete channel lineup, could they guarantee a million customers would subscribe to each channel?

    When the content providers deal with a cable or satellite company they can get millions of subscribers. Tiers and bundles help ensure that there will be a decent payment from each satellite or cable company (or associated cable companies). And when the end user is receiving the same feed as the cable systems there is the additional challenge of authorizing and deauthorizing the channels. The content providers do not need to worry about deauthorizations with their cable/satellite partners since they are less common and carrying channels without a contract carries a larger penalty than going after individual $1 per month subscribers.

    Case in point 1: DISH's current dispute with HBO is reportedly not over price but over the number of subscribers. HBO wants DISH to pay for subscribers who do not want HBO. Even with a major provider, HBO is asking for a minimum number of subscriptions.

    Case in point 2: A few years ago DISH interpreted contracts in a way that they believed they had rights to carry certain ESPN channels in HD. They did not have an explicit contract and ended up getting sued by ESPN. The point being that the receivers DISH used to capture ESPN's channels were authorized to receive the feeds even though DISH was not authorized by ESPN to retransmit the channels in HD.

    Case in point 3: AT&T wanted to start an OTT service but they did not have a large enough customer base (even with UVerse included) to get decent prices. They purchased DIRECTV in part to give them additional leverage when negotiating OTT carriage. The few million people receiving channels via DIRECTV NOW and SlingTV are backed by the 10s of millions of customers receiving channels via satellite.

    Can a small company such as Rainier guarantee millions of customers will subscribe?
     
  18. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    What does it matter? There are some cable companies that get content from C-Band, and have <10k customers. I used to subscribe to just such a company, and their C-Band dishes were literally down the street from my apartment. I'd bet Rainier Satellite could get more customers directly on C-Band than the smallest cable companies out there.

    With modern cryptosystems, it's not really that hard to authorize and deauthorize receivers.

    And HBO also sells HBO NOW directly to consumers. Why not also sell access to C-Band? The local yokel muni cable company can't guarantee customers either, that's why they often have cheap internet and crazy expensive TV, so maybe Rainier Satellite wouldn't be that competitive. The business model clearly works, as some channels DO offer their content through Rainier, like the NFL Network, NFL Redzone, and NESN, but a lot of them refuse to do so. Of course, they don't necessarily have to go through Rainier Satellite specifically, they are just the only C-Band provider that I know of.

    I hope that one of the streaming providers will eventually offer C-Band streams without re-encoding, but who knows when/if that will happen. It would be pretty awesome to be able to stream the high bitrate MPEG-4 streams unadulterated. It would have to be an extra fee option or something, as it wouldn't scale very well, but for HT enthusiasts and VQ snobs, it would be great. AFAIK, Google Fiber is the only provider today that offers unadulterated C-Band feeds, and it has very limited geographical availability.
     
  19. KyL416

    KyL416 Hall Of Fame

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    Those smaller companies are members of one of the co-ops like the NRTC or the NCTC who negotiate deals in blocks together on behalf of their member companies. So even if one of the smaller companies only have thousands of subscribers, combined the co-ops are negotiating on behalf of millions of subscribers.

    If Rainier wants to, they can try to join one of the co-ops, but then they would be bound by the terms of those carriage deals. i.e. a while back when Tennis Channel started demanding more widespread package placement, Optimum attempted to get around it by joining one of the co-ops since their older deal still allowed sports tier only placement, but once the Tennis Channel negotiated a new deal with the co-op that required regular package placement, Optimum refused and was forced to drop the channel.

    Another problem is Rainier is distributing PowerVu receivers, but there's many major channels out there who use other systems like Digicipher DVB-S2 (which isn't compatible with the previous 4DTV Digicipher II system) or Verimatrix. Including the master feeds for HBO, CBS/Showtime, Starz, Discovery, Turner, Disney/ESPN, Fox's Cable channels, along with the HITS Quantum suite.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
  20. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    True, and the co-ops are still getting killed on pricing compared to the big providers. Would Rainier Satellite be allowed to join a co-op and guaranteed access to the same content that they get? It's a bit of a different game, since they have receivers directly on C-Band in the individual users' homes. The content providers shouldn't need to force the same packages down the throat of C-Band users, since it is a niche market, although the flip side is that forced packages would guarantee access to a full cable lineup of content, and not have content providers randomly having hissy fits and pulling out of a package unless they did it for all of the co-ops' customers including small cable companies.
     

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