DirecTV Decreased Quality, Compression Artifacts

MKMK

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
Has any one else noticed the decrease in picture quality of Direct TV standard definition broadcasts in the past week or so.

I have observed a significant increase in compression artifacts (grainy blockiness around high contrast areas).

I suspect that Direct TV may be trying to push more channels out over their satellites - in order to do that they would need to decrease the data-rate and quality the each channel - or at least many channels - by compressing the channels more.

I work in the television industry doing compression and color correction on signals so my eyes are sensitive to this kind of thing, but when I mentioned it to my wife she immediately agreed that she had felt like the picture quality had gotten worse.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Interesting. I don't have DirecTV but my parents do. My fiance and I have been to their house twice this past week, and on both occasions, I noticed blockiness and even pixelation on non-local channels. Their dish installation was done 1 month prior and I didn't think to check signal quality, but you might be on to something.

Can't really comment on picture quality degradation compared to before this last week...haven't really spent enough time watching TV at their house, but I'll survey my dad about it tomorrow when I see him.

Have you only noticed this over the past week? What does your signal quality look like?
 

MKMK

DTVUSA Rookie
#3
Thanks Jay,

My signal strength is fine (in the 80s): The kind of problems you get from a weak signal are big blocks showing up on your screen. That's not what I've been seeing.

The compression artifacts I've been observing are the result of the compression of the signal before it is broadcast. They are smaller grainy blocks and checker board patterns that often show up around high contrast areas, like edge between someones shirt and a suit or skin

To answer your question, "Have you only noticed this over the past week?"

I definitely saw some compression on on DirectTV before - all digital TV has some compression artifacts - BUT in the past week I noticed a significant increase in the amount of artifacts.
 

Aries

DTVUSA Member
#4
It's quite ridiculous that this is even allowed. If I'm paying as much as I am for cable, I prefer it to be in high quality. I do understand the importance of compression, but at the same time, they need to understand the importance of keeping customers happy.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#5
It's quite ridiculous that this is even allowed. If I'm paying as much as I am for cable, I prefer it to be in high quality. I do understand the importance of compression, but at the same time, they need to understand the importance of keeping customers happy.
I have DirecTV and I have definitely noticed some artifact problems with local stations ever since the transition. I think they may be working some of the bugs out. When I get home tonight, I'll take another look at the rest of the stations.
 

MKMK

DTVUSA Rookie
#6
Yes Aaron, now that you mention it local stations are showing a lot of compression, which, which stands out because local stations used to tend to be not so bad compression.

You will notice that the pay TV channels like HBO look better, they give more bandwidth to those channels apparently. Maybe thats what is going on now, they are downgrading the quality of free-channels to give more bandwidth the HBO-Showtime etc.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Thanks Jay,

My signal strength is fine (in the 80s): The kind of problems you get from a weak signal are big blocks showing up on your screen. That's not what I've been seeing.

The compression artifacts I've been observing are the result of the compression of the signal before it is broadcast. They are smaller grainy blocks and checker board patterns that often show up around high contrast areas, like edge between someones shirt and a suit or skin

To answer your question, "Have you only noticed this over the past week?"

I definitely saw some compression on on DirectTV before - all digital TV has some compression artifacts - BUT in the past week I noticed a significant increase in the amount of artifacts.
Spoke with my Dad this afternoon. I guess I must have been mistaken, we only watched local (NBC to be exact) channels on my last couple of visits to their house. He said that he's only noticed problems on local channels ever since June 12. Other programming has been fine, and he's pretty happy with picture quality overall after dumping cable last month.

I have DirecTV and I have definitely noticed some artifact problems with local stations ever since the transition. I think they may be working some of the bugs out. When I get home tonight, I'll take another look at the rest of the stations.
Aaron, you're in California right? DirecTV has to be working the bugs out since the digital transition, but I haven't seen any specific mention on news feeds or forums yet.

Yes Aaron, now that you mention it local stations are showing a lot of compression, which, which stands out because local stations used to tend to be not so bad compression.

You will notice that the pay TV channels like HBO look better, they give more bandwidth to those channels apparently. Maybe thats what is going on now, they are downgrading the quality of free-channels to give more bandwidth the HBO-Showtime etc.
That is indeed another possible scenario.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#8
I do understand the importance of compression, but at the same time, they need to understand the importance of keeping customers happy.
Often, compression is HOW service providers keep customers happy. Regardless of the transmission mechanism, there is limited bandwidth, and seemingly inexhaustible appetite for new services. PQ makes customers happy; more new services makes customers happy; and one conflicts with the other, so it comes down to, at any one time, which makes more customers more happier than the other. :)

Relevant article:
While HDTV Resides in More Households, Interest in Blu-ray Remains Lukewarm

So essentially, Average Joe isn't as choosy about PQ as perhaps some would like Joe to be.
 
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felipez

DTVUSA Rookie
#9
Hey guys. I'm from Brazil. Whe have here Sky HD, but its DirecTV too. We also have noticed the decrease in picture quality in both SD and HD channels. We're trying to contact someone inside to see why its happening. We dont have as many channels as you guys does., so this is no excuse for them. Its good to know that we arent the only who are experiencing the same probleman.
Sorry for my english. =]
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#10
Hey guys. I'm from Brazil. Whe have here Sky HD, but its DirecTV too. We also have noticed the decrease in picture quality in both SD and HD channels. We're trying to contact someone inside to see why its happening. We dont have as many channels as you guys does., so this is no excuse for them. Its good to know that we arent the only who are experiencing the same probleman.
Sorry for my english. =]
All the way from Brazil, welcome to the forum! :)

Just an update here, I've seen some slight pixelation during the past week, but nothing as bad as the first week after June 12. I'll be watching a lot of TV this weekend, will try to follow up with another update on Sunday.
 

torqued

DTVUSA Rookie
#11
dtv quality in hollister/gilroy area in california

we have seen increased signal quality issues on both sd and network hd channels, including audio. it's been worse this year vs. last year, getting worse the last three months. june has been especially bad but it started before that. i suspect pushing comedy central to hd (but not wide format) and fox at 360 up to hd/wide format might be when it started to decline.
we get the montery bay area locals, even though we are on the border to san jose local range and would have preferred that.
we have a hr21 and a non-dvr hd receiver, we see similiar issues on both.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#12
PQ makes customers happy; more new services makes customers happy; and one conflicts with the other, so it comes down to, at any one time, which makes more customers more happier than the other. :)
The exact conflict with stealing bandwidth from the main HD programming on an HD and giving it to the subs or not giving the subs enough.

Even though I can pick them up reliably I can enough to compare 3 different NBCs here running 1080i. And the one with no subchannel using 15.68 mbps is the only one that doesn't pixelate on wipes or fast fades. The one at 15.21 isn't too bad, but then their subchannel US Sports looks like megablock city at 2.13. WUFT here that is PBS runs 1080i at 14.33 mbps and you can see pixelization on every wipe, fade or motion in the picture, ruins the HD. Then to boot they cram in two more channels one with 2 mbps and the other with 1.26 and they really look awful.

But the point is do people want more programming or PQ?
 

felipez

DTVUSA Rookie
#13
All the way from Brazil, welcome to the forum! :)

Just an update here, I've seen some slight pixelation during the past week, but nothing as bad as the first week after June 12. I'll be watching a lot of TV this weekend, will try to follow up with another update on Sunday.
Yeah man, thanks.
We have more problems than just the quality. We have less channels and we pay maybe 3x more than you do. High price and low quality, but we dont have other choice. All the providers are the same crap :ballchain:

I've been searching in the internet and in Canada, they're experiencing the same problems. Take a look in this link Digital Home - Rogers now compressing majority of HD channels . I lived in Toronto for sometime, so I know about their providers.
 
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