HDTV Puts The Squeeze On Cable Companies
from the still-nothing-on dept
This year, consumers will buy more high-definition television sets than standard-definition one for the first time -- but cable operators are having a hard time finding the bandwidth to deliver HD channels to their users. With the push for new video-on-demand and other TV services alongside the popularity of cable modems and VoIP, they're simply running out of room on their networks, and won't be able to keep up with satellite companies, which are aggressively working to support large numbers of HD channels. The resulting effect of this is that it's delaying the entry of many content providers to begin offering content in HD. They've been waiting for a decent number of viewers to be able to get the signals, and while they may now have capable TVs, their cable companies can't get the channels to them. There are a couple of solutions that cable providers are looking at: the first is to basically turn their whole networks into video-on-demand systems by delivering most channels only to those viewers currently watching them, instead of pushing everything to everyone. The other, more contentious solution, is to quit broadcasting analog channels, since three HDTV channels or 10 standard digital ones can be broadcast in the space of a single analog one. Still, the ultimate solution here is one we've talked about before -- to unbundle the shows from the channels. Think of all the content that cable networks broadcast that people don't watch, with 499 channels of the proverbial 500 just representing overhead on the one channel a viewer is watching. So not only would simply offering people the shows they want to watch, rather than all the channels, make more commercial sense than the current system, it could make more technical sense as well.