Popularizing OTA DTV In Canada - Page 6 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #76 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 05:52 AM
 
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here's what I'll be writing Canadian HQ for Bestbuy/Futureshop, and a varient of this to each store manager that I'm able.
Quote:
To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Blake Williams and I live in Vancouver, BC. I’m writing this email because I’m concerned about the future of digital over-the-air television (OTA) in Canada. Canada as a nation is at least 2-3 years behind our neighbour to the south, the United States. All of their major networks are embracing the digital age by transitioning to a digital terrestrial broadcast format called ATSC using 8VSB as carrier modulation. Americans know that DTV is the future, and that one day (Feb 17, 2009) their analog OTA equipment won’t work at all. Canada has yet to set an analog OTA cutoff date, but has already started to issue digital transition licenses to various stations across our country. In fact, Vancouver already has two stations broadcasting digitally, and two more on the way. You may think that retail stores don’t have a role in digital OTA, but they do.

Broadcasters/stations are hesitant towards investing in the new equipment needed to capture, edit, distribute and broadcast a HD signal. They site that while they know the future is digital, they just don’t see the demand for it yet, as not many people have ATSC tuners (either built-in to their HDTV or as a set-top box [STB]), nor to many people (in the cities) receive TV via antenna anymore. After all, they need people to advertise to.

Retail companies don’t know of DT station progress, and as a whole, aren’t informed about digital OTA; from store manager, right on down to the lowly sales associate in the home theatre department. Staff aren’t aware of DTV, aren’t educated about it and how it can be used to sell HDTVs with built-in ATSC tuners, and don’t have the product (STBs for HDTV w/o ATSC tuners) or OTA demos to support the benefits they claim to your customers about the products you currently sell. Because of this, the consumer is left in the dark, and isn’t getting full value for the product they purchased from you.

Consumers are jumping on the HDTV bandwagon faster than ever (you’ve got the sales facts to back that up). But without knowing about digital OTA, they look at what they think are their only options for HD programming, and end up paying either a cable or satellite company for the privilege of being able to receive some HD content. The sad thing is, even someone who is sold a HDTV w/built-in ATSC tuner, who might have just been interested in HD channels, won't find out about digital OTA unless they're told about it. If they hear about using an antenna they immediately remember the OTA of late, being full of static and not as clear as a subscription method. Not exactly what you want to see on your brand new HDTV. What do they do? They buy an expensive HD box (be it cable or satellite) and never consider OTA from that point on (and even if they find out later, they’ve invested so much money into their HD box, there’s no point in going back). Thereby confirming the station’s concern, and Canada remains stuck in a land of mostly standard definition content, albeit on widescreen HDTVs.

You might be thinking, well if Canadians are going HD via subscriber boxes, isn’t that their choice? Yes and no. It’s only their choice if you also offer DTV as a 3rd and free choice to receive HD signals, otherwise it’s your choice to keep them from the whole truth. I know you profit quite a bit from the sale of HD boxes, but don’t think that digital STBs aren't profitable, they’re comparable with HD boxes in cost. By not selling digital STB’s in your stores you run the risk of slowing down the development of HD in Canada. As partially explained above, stations don’t see the need to go HD unless they have HD viewers. Although the OTA viewership is small (in comparison to cable and satellite), it is the determining factor in HD proliferation. Thanks to the CRTC, non-speciality hd channels must be broadcasting digitally OTA before they’re allowed to pass that HD signal onto cable and satellite companies for their HD lineup. By slowing down this symbient cycle of station/retailer/customer, you are in fact slowing down the delivery of HD to your customers receiving HD via subscription as well.

While Canada now does have some on-air digital stations, we should have available to us, the same equipment that’s available to Americans (held back from the Canadian market due to the lack of DT stations in Canada). I believe Bestbuy and Futureshop’s sales staff (of which I used to be a member of) should properly inform the masses about digital OTA. I say properly because, to this day, your sales staff either refuse to suggest digital OTA as an option for HD programming, but fail to mention that it’s free (certainly the biggest benefit of OTA). Instead they offer expensive HD digital cable terminals, or expensive HD satellite systems. While both subscription methods have more HD channels to choose from, their HD picture quality is inferior to that of DTV. The reason why is simple. OTA allows for a higher bandwidth than cable or satellite providers. This gives OTA the advantage for picture quality as it is not recompressed to fit the bandwidth limitations found on cable and satellite systems. Since the signal is going directly from the broadcast tower to the viewer’s antenna, the viewer receives the cleanest picture possible, straight from the source.

I would like to see
a.) staff informed about OTA (local DT stations, etc.)
b.) staff educating customers about OTA (how to get it, etc.)
c.) STB and other OTA products available in Canadian BB/FS.

For reasons I’ve already explained, it’s up to the retailer to inform the customer about digital OTA and that using an antenna to get TV signals isn’t the “old technology” they think it is. Welcome them into the 21st century when you show them they too could pull in a crystal clear image with digital surround right out of the air, for free. Be the trendsetter for Canada’s electronic retailers. Set up a DTV demo in your stores and blow your customers away with the quality, and they’ll line up to buy it. With quality content, word of mouth will spread news of DTV exponentially (friend have friends over to watch HD sports games [I do]). Only then will the unfavorable perception of antennas be put to rest.

It is with these suggestions, that I believe popular knowledge of digital OTA will increase, and the preconceived notion that the only “good” way to receive TV is through Shaw, Star Choice, and Bell Express Vu, will be exposed for the myth that it is, by including a free option into the fold… DTV.
Damn near brings a tear to my eye. Okay so they might not know about Global pulling the wool over the CRTC's eyes, but sometimes you gotta grease the wheel that runs TV in Canada, even if you'd rather spit on it and call it useless.

Sony 32XBR1, Antennas Direct CS2, Xbox360 & BD. Gamertag: "DT Vancity" <-- get it, DTV?
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post #77 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 01:22 PM
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Great letter Blake, and just a tip: I would insert a new Paragraph 1 that is directly about FS/BB that gives an introductory overview (not very detailed) about why your letter is directly important to them. If you slip in something about how this could pick up their sales figures or get more customers in the door they'll definitely read more carefully. Then just add a paragraph later in the letter that spells out those ideas a bit more. In each version of the letter that you send, replace "retailer" with Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source, Wal-Mart, etc. as appropriate.
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post #78 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 02:25 PM
 
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I might get flamed mightily for this since everyone here is so pro-OTA. But here is my opinion on this letter.

Your letter is too long. It meanders about and does not get to the point quickly enough. What is your point exactly? I'm struggling to find it quickly.

Bottom line, how is selling OTA at Bestbuy/Futureshop going to help them make more money? They do not give a hoot about the state of OTA in Canada. They do not care about how OTA is lagging behind the States. They do not care no specific date has been set to shutdown OTA analog in Canada. They just won't care and I don't blame them.

They want to know:
- Profit potential? (what type of margins are they going to make?)
- Market size? (how many customers will find this useful?)
- Market penetration/saturation?
- Market demand?
- Market growth rate?
- Market distribution? (Toronto? And where else really right now? That is a single small market. Bestbuy markets nationally - they offer a homogenous product in all stores. Selling OTA in Toronto only is not going to work for them.)
- Oh yes, I'll just say profit potential again.

It is not their resposibility to evangelize OTA. (That would cost a lot of money.) They are already selling a lot of HD capable equipment. The bottom line is how much more HD equipment will they actually sell if they start marketing OTA? Is it enough to justify the cost and effort?

Letters like the above do not spin things in a way that speaks to their corporate values and responsibilities. (Profit, market share.) While they may seem cold-hearted, their final responsibility is to their shareholders.

Despite what many think, these organizations are actually usually run by pretty smart people. They are not stupid, and will actually address a market segment if it makes sound business sense. If you can provide them with information to build a business case then that helps them. Unfortunately, letters like the one above will just end in a trash can very, very quickly.

I hate seeming so negative as I think OTA digital is awesome, and I encourage my friends to try it out. And I help out my friends one by one to get them setup. That is the only way to really make the market grow to the point where you might get a major like Bestbuy interested.

Cheers.
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post #79 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 04:22 PM
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Don't worry, we don't flame here. I think we are in agreement about pitching a "win-win" scenario to retailers. That's the only way to get their attention.
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post #80 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
We seem to be revisiting familiar topics that are seen in the following threads linked below. We'll keep this thread focused on the specific topic of popularizing OTA in Canada, where about %70 of the population now have access to OTA DTV in some quantity (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver areas).
My goodness, you people must be breeding like rabbits! 70% of population in Canada is like 22 million people, while in 2005 (according to StatCan) there lived only around 11.3 mln in the entire metrpolitan areas of these 3 cities.

http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/de...olitan%20areas
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post #81 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 07:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Dent
My goodness, you people must be breeding like rabbits! 70% of population in Canada is like 22 million people, while in 2005 (according to StatCan) there lived only around 11.3 mln in the entire metrpolitan areas of these 3 cities.

http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/de...olitan%20areas
I would imagine the Toronto area would cover all of the Niagara peninsula also the area's including Kitchener Waterloo Guelph stretching down into Simcoe Brantford Hamilton etc as we all can get the same signals from Toronto, Buffalo, Hamilton, Kitchener etc, I would imagine the same would apply to the surrounding area's of the larger cities. That will bring up the stats up to date so to speak.
I cant say anything about Calgary, never visited there, but did hear it is sort of in the technological backwaters electronically speaking

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post #82 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-19, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Dent
70% of population in Canada is like 22 million people, while in 2005 (according to StatCan) there lived only around 11.3 mln in the entire metrpolitan areas of these 3 cities.
Possible OTA areas are circled in red, although the Maine stations do not have the power to punch as far as this map indicates:

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post #83 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-20, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricky
That will bring up the stats up to date so to speak.
I cant say anything about Calgary, never visited there, but did hear it is sort of in the technological backwaters electronically speaking
So, do you claim that 22 million of the population lives in the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (as the post that I'm replying to stated), or you are trying to come up with some other numbers about something else - because I didn't see any. Neither did I see any point in your post.
But you are right, you guys are so lucky to live in the most technologically advanced area of Canada - you have 3 OTA Canadian stations (all 60 of you owners of digital OTA receivers), and North America's first DAB radio stations - all 3 DAB listeners are also members of this forum I'll have to come visit Ontario some day to see those landmarks of technology, but until then I can only dream while watching them on ExpreessVu
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post #84 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-20, 12:54 PM
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Canadian areas with OTA DT are almost always the ones with direct access to U.S. airwaves. That's the geographical reality of the situation. Calgary is a looooong way from any Montana OTA stations, so what can you do? Watch DT on Shaw, BEV or SC. 'Nuff said.

Arthur, look at the map and decide whether the areas outside the red circles would make up 8 to 10 million people. If so (and I'm positive its true) then you can surmise like so many others have that about 70% of Canadians have access to DT OTA in varying signal levels for which reception gear is available.
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post #85 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-20, 01:47 PM
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OK, you say 70, I say 40, but whatever the real number is, if it ain't close to 100%, FutureShop and the rest cannot advertise that OTA HDTV is available on national scale (which is how the topic started). Let alone Canadian OTA.
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post #86 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-20, 10:01 PM
 
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hmm

You're right about my letter, it is long, and I don't get to the point quick enough. I haven't sent that letter to anyone yet, I just wanted to post it here and get some feedback on it. Thank you for that. I will be editing it before I send it out.

With regards to recent posts, I'd say that without major retailers behind OTA, Canada will never get 40%-70%+ (whatever you think it is) population saturation. It's the chicken and egg scenario. Only here it's DT stations, retailers, viewers/consumers (depending on your point of view). Stations want DT viewers to justify costs of going DT. Viewers want HD but don't know about the best and cheapest kind, DTV. And in the middle you've got retailers only selling HD cable and HD satellite. Viewers don't know about DTV because stations don't plug the fact that they're DT, and retailers don't promote DTV as a way to get HD. Which reduces the number of DT viewers. Which reduces the station's desire/speed/plans to go DT.

As for profitability, you only need to look as far as Stampeder's "how much did you spend on OTA" poll. Even with the majority of the HD market in the dark, the small group of who know of DTV and have DTV have forked out big bucks on their OTA setups. Why? It's the never-ending drive to pull in distant signals, and to get them stronger than before. Heh, it's kind like computer gamers. What's fast today is slow tomorrow, and it drives the desire to upgrade (shelling out big coin to stay current). And that poll only counts STBs, antennas, mounts, and cables. If he were to count TV's with built in ATSC tuners, it would be huge (not that you'd want to upgrade your tv as often as other OTA equipment).

When I bought my $4000 HDTV from futureshop, they didn't tell me about my TV's ATSC tuner ('tho I knew all about it), or didn't try to up-sell me an antenna. I later told them what I plan to do to get HD and they looked at me like I had three eyes, claiming Vancouver didn't have DT stations yet (this was Dec '05).

Sony 32XBR1, Antennas Direct CS2, Xbox360 & BD. Gamertag: "DT Vancity" <-- get it, DTV?
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post #87 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-21, 12:11 AM
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Thanks BlakeW for being sporting about the constructive criticism, and great that you've had personal experience with FS/BB to throw back at them if you need...
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post #88 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-21, 03:33 AM
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I'm just passing along that the Senate's Transport and Communications Committee is another target for sending letters about OTA. Keep in mind that Senate Reports tend to get publicity, if not always some action:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/Committ...s=1&comm_id=19
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post #89 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-26, 11:22 PM
 
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Futureshop conversions

well I sent out my revised letter to BestBuy / Futureshop CHQ last week. Today I walked to the downtown Futureshop, and educated a home theater salesmen about DTV. He now knows about it, but I think he's still a skeptic. He needs to see it to believe it, I think. Before leaving I asked him to tell his department manager, if not store manager about what I told him. If he does or doesn't, I'm going to go there with antenna and cable in hand and hopefully I'll get 60%+ indoors. I won't leave until I convert the whole sales staff. However, I need to pick a good time to demo it, I want a time when something on CBC or CTV is in HD, so they're blown away with its digital "free"ness.

He first thought I was talking about DirectTV. Then thought that DTV was only for the US. Then he said, why would we want to demo that, when we're trying to make money on HD cable and HD sat boxes? I told asked him, do you work for Shaw, Bell or Star Choice? He said no. I felt I might have been a bit harsh, catching him in his ways, so I took it down a notch and said, I don't mean to chew your ass, I used to work for Futureshop myself, I know you get good GM from them. But brought it around by saying, you sell TVs with ATSC tuners, you owe it to your customers to inform them about their TVs full value. He agreed.

Sony 32XBR1, Antennas Direct CS2, Xbox360 & BD. Gamertag: "DT Vancity" <-- get it, DTV?

Last edited by blakew; 2006-06-26 at 11:27 PM.
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post #90 of 834 (permalink) Old 2006-06-27, 11:18 AM
 
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I totally agree there is a real misunderstanding about OTA and HD!

I have seen with the few people I have influenced in the last year and the ones that I have not it is an uphill battle!

In one case... I gave a colleage an old pair of rabbit ears... and he got 3 channels with his built in ATSC Tuner.... He was WOW'd... when to BB/FS cannot remember which one and bought a HDTV indoor antenna???

HE said the salesmen told him this is exactly what he needed.... So I talked to him some more and got him to return and to buy a CM4221 from Yaamon.

Then he was wow'd again... Just leaning it up in a wall in the house he was up to like 9 channels! Now he was done... he arranged to have it installed properly outdoors and said he was up to 22 channels(now down to about 19)
He is completely sold on it now!

I have tried to tell others.. some are willing to try... others need to be convinced with their own eyes!

I know with my wifes cousin he was an early adopter of a DLP sammy a few years back.... he has only watched SD on it. HE believes that he will only get HD with cable. I tried to convince him I have since recieved my HD set with builting ATSC tuner... so I think he is going to be floored.

His brother has been over since I got the set... he too was an early adopter... now he even wants to buy another set like mine. Since he does not have an ATSC tuner he is not completely sold on OTA for himself.

I think what I have learned through all this...
Is that people really need to be shown what they can get... no one is showing them in Stores...

So this is kind of like tell two friiends who tell two friends etc.... escept it is show two friends and they can show two friends etc...

This is they way I am trying to influence the people around me that I know... by showing them what is possible.
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