FAQ - HDTV Formats - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 2007-12-14, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, Rogers, 9865 & 8300-eHDD, Sharp LC75N8000U, Denon AVR4310Ci; Sony KDL40W3000, 9865
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FAQ - HDTV Formats

Updated early 2019. 9,521 Previous views.

HDTV Formats

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.

National Geographic
OMNI 1 & 2
Rogers Demo Station
Rogers Sportsnet
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. Bell converts all broadcast channels to 720P to save bandwidth.

CBC & Affiliates - Bold, NN, Doc (changed to 720P September 2011)
The High Fidelity (now Blue Ant) Channels
The Score


The only service provider 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, is that Bell (Sat) is converting all of the channels to 720P to save bandwidth. Bell Fibe, Bell Aliant, as well as Telus Sat and Optik get (most/all of) their signals from Bell - some (local area channels) may be direct from the "broadcaster".


Some OTT programmes and services (like NetFlix, YouTube, etc) are now available in 4k (and 1080P and lower resolutions). Some providers have very limited programming on specific 4K channels. Of course you'll need a 4k TV and other 4k equipment to take advantage of 4k.

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. Also, most HD STBs have the ability (or mandatory) to change output formats usually to a single format unless they have an SD IPG in which case some have passthrough functionality.

See the following FAQ on TV native format vs. incoming format.

FAQ - Native Display Resolution vs. Input Format - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

And the following FAQ on Upconversion:

FAQ - On Upconversion - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums


For those people who are streaming their viewing, you need to have good bandwidth (say 100 mbps for 4k, although 10-30 mbps is usually adequate for HD and some 4k) 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. This can also sometimes cost more. 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.

57's Home Theatre (Latest equipment & photos)

Last edited by 57; 2017-04-25 at 12:23 AM. Reason: Updated
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 2009-09-04, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, Rogers, 9865 & 8300-eHDD, Sharp LC75N8000U, Denon AVR4310Ci; Sony KDL40W3000, 9865
Posts: 56,309
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