Updated late 2014. 9,521 Previous views.
This question comes up frequently, so here are the formats that the various television stations "broadcast". The term broadcast is in quotes because many of these channels don't broadcast at all, but they send signals to service providers.
1080i is "crisp" and may be seen as "sharper" than 720P, but 720P has other advantages, such as less bandwidth required and better PQ when lots of motion is on screen.
OMNI 1 & 2
Rogers Demo Station
TMN & MPix
Any other channel not listed below as 720P is very likely to be 1080i.
All service providers
, excepting Bell "pass" the broadcast format directly to the STB. It may then be that you only have one output format, depending on the STB, but that's a different scenario. Shaw (cable and Direct), may still change some 720P channels to 1080i - it seems to vary with time/channel.
720P saves a bit of bandwidth and is also said to be "smoother" and "better" for sports programming.
CBC & Affiliates - Bold, NN, Doc (changed to 720P September 2011)
The High Fidelity Channels (Oasis, Rush, etc)
The only programming that's currently available in 1080P is the "on demand" programming from BTV (and Dish), which is downloaded to the HDD of the PVR. I believe that Shaw is starting to roll this (1080P OD) out to Gateway customers.
The latest information we have (2014) is that Bell (Sat) is converting all
of the channels to 720P. Bell Fibe, Bell Aliant, as well as Telus Sat and Optik get (most of) their signals from Bell - some may
be direct from the "broadcaster".
Broadcasting vs Original Material
An affiliate broadcaster only broadcasts in one resolution.
Please remember that the broadcaster (excepting Fox for their own programming) has nothing to do with the original signal/material, which for HD tapes, are usually 1080P/24 (sometimes 1080i/24), even for ABC, which then broadcasts in 720P.
People are often concerned about the affiliate "converting" signals say from 720p to 1080i, when this doesn't necessarily happen due to the nature of the original material.
HDTV Native Formats
Please note that all current HDTVs only display in one HD format. All incoming HD formats are converted to this native HD format. It therefore makes little difference what the channel is broadcasting, since it will be converted by the TV. Also, most STBs have the ability (or mandatory) to change output formats.
See the following FAQ on TV native format
vs. incoming format.
FAQ - Native Display Resolution vs. Input Format
And the following FAQ on Upconversion
FAQ - On Upconversion
For those people who are streaming
their viewing, you need to have good bandwidth to have good streaming quality and for services like Netflix you need to use your computer to appropriately configure your account settings to allow for the best picture and audio quality. If you're worried about a bandwidth cap you may need to compromize quality for reduced bandwidth.
Please PM 57 if you have any comments or suggestions.