October 21, 2009

HD channel bitrates

Just found this interesting page on the web, showing the different bitrates for Sky's HD channels. There's quite a range of bitrates there, from the lowest (Luxe TV - 5481kbps) to the highest (Sky Arts 2 - 19161kbps). Somewhat surprised to see quite a few of the movie channels at the lower end of the table: Disney Cine, Sky Action, Sky Comedy, Sky SciFi/Horror and Sky Screen 1 all in the red. Odd.
I'm not sure how they relate to cable bitrates (if at all) but here are the VM channels' rates on satellite (it's a dynamic table and will changed from one day to the next, so see these as indicative):
  • BBC HD 9726
  • C4 HD 9512
  • ESPN HD 16517
  • MTVN HD 14314
  • Nat Geo HD 9160
(There's no Living HD of course, but for some reason FX HD isn't listed either.)
Having watched Life on BBC HD last week and being distinctly underwhelmed I think the dropping of the bitrate does have a noticable affect (despite claims to the contrary from the Beeb team on their blog). What do you guys thinks? Do any Sky HD customers find the quality variable from channel to channel?


lee said...

I unashamedly watch, and enjoy, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and I watched on HD instead of SD (BBC) and found that I didn't really think I was looking at HD, bitrate, or lack of effort in filming?

It was through Iplayer - do their bitrates differ to a live HD stream?

Banjo Ted said...

I agree that Life looked less impressive than I'd hoped on BBC HD. Premiership football on ESPN HD looks incredible, in comparison.

Martin said...

Yes Lee, iPlayer bit rates are much lower. You see far more blocky compression artifacts in SD or HD,

Richardr said...

I think you will find that movie channels require lower bitrates as they firstly have material that is 25 frames per second, not the 50 frames per second of video (the 25 is sped up from the 24 frames per second of US originals) and also often have black bars top and bottom.

joe.bk93 said...

some hd channels are broadcast in 720p others are broadcast in 1080i they are both hd but 1080i is better than 720p because it has more pixels i find that the sky, bbc , discovery and channel 4 hd channels are the best when they are being broadcast in hd.Some hd channels do not broadcast in hd all the time you can check whether they are by pressing the info (i) button on your sky remote. It will say hd in the top write hand corner

tvsersity said...

I too have been disappointed by BBC HD lately. It used to look pretty good, but just looks soft and flat now. Really not much better than good SD.

Whatever the BBC have done, they've broken it.

lee said...

re: finding out if something is in SD on HD channel, I've found on Living HD specifically that an SD program (simulcast) on HD will be a 4:3 aspect ratio, even on 16:9 screen so you'll have black bars left and right (as well as the obvious flat look!)

Martin said...

4:3 is not always an indicator of SD. In the US many programs only went wide when HD came in, but our "Wide revolution" came with the digital uptake, long before HD. The Wire is HD, but is still 4:3 as an artistic choice, to give it a more retro, american cop show feel. I don't know of any other shows which have done this so, usually, 4:3 means it is SD, but 16:9 is NOT an indicator of HD.

lee said...

Quite interesting! Thanks Martin :)

Does anyone know if Boston Legal is on HD on living, I know it was filmed as such?