Where are you HDTV?

With all the hoopla about HDTV and the push by carriers to get appropriate tools in consumer hands I expect more from our networks… On Time Warner in NYC, we have a variety of channel options about 10 I think that are within the HD range… yet many do not broadcast 16×9 all the time and in fact seem to favor 4:3 (though cleaner looking 4:3) broadcasts than the regular channels. You have to pick the HD version of the two offered so you do a quick compare…

Bigger, new episodes, like CSI and Raymond get shown in HD and if I had to pick a leader in the main network category it would be CBS. There are still plenty of shows, sports and even the presidential debates that are limited to the standard method. I know you need different equipment to broadcast it and sure there are additional costs, but if you drive us to the water, it better be good to drink!

I’ve had an HDTV for 4 years … long before there was available (cable) programming in my area. I got the first available converter box and saw there were a few channels initially… now though I have the next generation box with included DVR (Scientific Atlanta 8000HD) and see there are more even channels (Discovery and TNT), but not enough regularly scheduled HD programming from the majors. What continues to amaze me is how Discovery and PBS can go all HD all the the time, yet the guys allegedly making all the money and with all the high priced shows don’t go for it.

It was nice to see the Olympics in HD, but the programming on the HD channel was not the same as the featured event in standard. Same with Discovery… they broadcast a separate lineup and use the HD channel as another place in the Discovery network. I’ll have to ask my buddy who works in programming there, what’s up with that… plenty of their regular shows appear in HD, but at different times than the standard broadcast. You can resolve and avoid program time-slots with a DVR and even record both at the the same time if so inclined…

UPDATE — Not an official response from Discovery, but good thoughts on the matter from an insider:

  1. Shooting HD adds a good amount to the budget of a show so more of the programming than not would be analog
  2. Setting-up a place on the dial where we offer programming exclusively in HD not only brings premium revenue in because it’s part of a premium tier, it gives us shelf space in an area where many networks have set-up HD exclusive feeds like ESPN etc.
  3. Sometimes the shows that look the prettiest in HD are not the most highly rated, a separate outlet means that those shows can air without negatively impacting our bottom line.

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