« Topics
1234...121314
deejay2,476 posts since 5 Jan 2003
Central (South) Oxford
For me, the biggest problem with onDigital was the lousy reception. Even in good signal areas it seemed prone to blockyness, interference from household appliances and atmospheric conditions. I think it was a little bit ahead of its time. They started email and pay per view at a time where internet connections in almost all homes were via dial up phone lines. Good in theory, painful in operation in practice.
Two minutes regions...
1
elmarko614 posts since 27 Jul 2010
STV Central Reporting Scotland
One of the big factors I was made aware of was that NDS, who provided the encryption for Sky Digital, were leaking codes to hack and pirate OnDigital boxes, so they ended up losing a hell of a lot of money when they'd dropped a ton of it on football rights. I'm too young to know just how much it was struggling at the time beforehand but I was under the assumption that it failed because it simply blew money they didn't have.

Was it ever investigated how much of a hit this was for them, financially or otherwise? I suspect it's hard to work out. But yeah, definitely an interesting finding, given who owns NDS...
Interceptor613 posts since 20 Oct 2014
The football rights in my personal opinion. It was one step too far for a fledgeling provider.

I don't think it helped that when watching Sky 1, there were shows that they didn't have the DTT rights for, so showed poor replacements. Guilty seemed to be one of the shows they'd air and they didn't have The Simpsons.
By the time my Dad joined in 2001 they definitely did have The Simpsons. IIRC it was because some of their rights specifically forbid terrestrial broadcast, which was amended to non-FTA broadcast in most cases.

On reflection, the service was inferior to the offer from the cable operators (once they launched DTV, they were a little late to the party) and far far less exciting than what Sky had. Of course they had the inescapable problem of limited bandwidth, which limited their channel offer and a lot of channels were part time - some of those were sensible splits like Nickelodeon until 7pm and Paramount for the rest of the evening, some were not - UK Style had Mondays to Thursdays while UK Horizons had Friday to Sundays. If Horizons were strip and stranding over a week, you had no way of watching. It was all most unsatisfactory - and of course Top Up TV was more or less unusable because of their stupid approach to dividing up channels. There were distinct holes in their offer - why did they have none of the Flextech channels, for example?

Then there was the software - even the sluggish Grundig Sky boxes were positively snappy compared to the fastest on/ITV Digital box (the Pioneer?). The interactive services were so slow they were basically unusable.

Everyone I knew who had ondigital had it either for 'gold card' purposes, often alongside a basic Sky or NTL subscription, or they ended up leaving and moving to one of those operators.

But yes what essentially killed it was the FA agreement, which was pretty stupid.
VMPhil7,053 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
One of the big factors I was made aware of was that NDS, who provided the encryption for Sky Digital, were leaking codes to hack and pirate OnDigital boxes, so they ended up losing a hell of a lot of money when they'd dropped a ton of it on football rights. I'm too young to know just how much it was struggling at the time beforehand but I was under the assumption that it failed because it simply blew money they didn't have.

Was it ever investigated how much of a hit this was for them, financially or otherwise? I suspect it's hard to work out. But yeah, definitely an interesting finding, given who owns NDS...

There was a Panorama about it back in 2012: https://archive.org/details/MurdochsTVPirates

News article from the time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17494723
MetalGearRex853 posts since 11 May 2016
London London
The football rights in my personal opinion. It was one step too far for a fledgeling provider.

I don't think it helped that when watching Sky 1, there were shows that they didn't have the DTT rights for, so showed poor replacements. Guilty seemed to be one of the shows they'd air and they didn't have The Simpsons.
By the time my Dad joined in 2001 they definitely did have The Simpsons. IIRC it was because some of their rights specifically forbid terrestrial broadcast, which was amended to non-FTA broadcast in most cases.

On reflection, the service was inferior to the offer from the cable operators (once they launched DTV, they were a little late to the party) and far far less exciting than what Sky had. Of course they had the inescapable problem of limited bandwidth, which limited their channel offer and a lot of channels were part time - some of those were sensible splits like Nickelodeon until 7pm and Paramount for the rest of the evening, some were not - UK Style had Mondays to Thursdays while UK Horizons had Friday to Sundays. If Horizons were strip and stranding over a week, you had no way of watching. It was all most unsatisfactory - and of course Top Up TV was more or less unusable because of their stupid approach to dividing up channels. There were distinct holes in their offer - why did they have none of the Flextech channels, for example?

Then there was the software - even the sluggish Grundig Sky boxes were positively snappy compared to the fastest on/ITV Digital box (the Pioneer?). The interactive services were so slow they were basically unusable.

Everyone I knew who had ondigital had it either for 'gold card' purposes, often alongside a basic Sky or NTL subscription, or they ended up leaving and moving to one of those operators.

But yes what essentially killed it was the FA agreement, which was pretty stupid.

So channels like UK Horizons actually weren't broadcasting for days? Honestly that wasn't a way to do timeshares - on ITV Digital's part.

The strangest thing regarding channels time sharing, is that some channels like Paramount, Nickelodeon shared on the same channel number. Would have been better to actually separate them in regards to channel numbers.
'What is the only planet capable of sustaining life?'
'Mars.'
noggin12,074 posts since 26 Jun 2001
A few issues in my mind :

1. They used 2k QAM64 at low powers. This was a very delicate modulation mode, and on early receivers which had less-good demodulators, you could get all sorts of signal break up. (2k QAM16 was better and was what the PSB muxes used until DSO, albeit at 18Mbs rather than 24Mbs as a result)

2. They squeezed too many channels into too little bandwidth, using relatively early MPEG2 encoders. This meant picture quality was lousy (not just because of interference and signal break-up). Even with a perfect signal, the compression artefacts were terrible on some content on some channels.

3. The encryption was hacked wide open, so they lost a significant amount of income, as many viewers 'knew a bloke in the pub who could sell you a dodgy card' and were watching for free...

4. They didn't have as many channels as Sky, and didn't have the 'big ticket' channels in the same way that Sky did. Sky had the more desirable line-up and content mix.
3
MetalGearRex853 posts since 11 May 2016
London London
In regards to muxes and channel selection, it could have been vastly different under OnDigital had it succeeded. Taking into account the various consequences and the channel selection today, here's what might have been:

PSB1: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three/CBBC, BBC Four/CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC Red Button
PSB2: ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, Channel 4, E4, More4, Film4, 4seven, Channel 5
COM4: 5 USA, 5Star, QVC, CITV, ITVBe, Discovery, Drama, Television X, CBS Reality, Horror, PPV Service, Sky Premiere, Sky Hits, Sky Sports 1,2,3, Syfy
COM5: Sky1, Sky Living, Sky News, Challenge, Gold, Dave, Really, Fox, Universal, Comedy Central/Nick, Cartoon Network, Nat Geo, Food Network, Sky Arts, Disney Junior
COM6: 4Music, Yesterday, Boomerang/TCM, Home, MTV, CNN, History, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Alibi, CBS Action, W, Community Chnl, Disney, Al Jazzera English
Local: Local TV service, Pop, The Box
PSB3: All 5 terrestrial channels in HD + BBC Three/CBBC HD
COM7: BBC Four/CBeebies HD, BBC News HD, Sky1 HD, E4 HD, More4 HD, ITV2 HD, Star Plus, CBS Drama, TLC, Bloomberg, BT Sport 1, 2, Europe
COM8: Sky Sports 1, 2 HD, Sky Premiere HD, Sony Channel, VH1, Nat Geo Wild
Last edited by MetalGearRex on 19 July 2016 12:08pm
'What is the only planet capable of sustaining life?'
'Mars.'
London Lite6,942 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
I remember the first time I watched through my OnDigital box and it was the Open Golf on BBC1, the blocky picture was so visible that I went back to analogue.

Fast forward to after ITV Digital went bust and I purchased my first Freeview box, a Goodmans GDB2, the PQ was a massive improvement (by 2003 standards) and the box was like a Ferrari compared to the Nokia Mediamaster. £100 for a DVB-T receiver, but a marked improvement on the ITV Digital receivers.
Inspector Sands10,534 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I think the ITV Digital boxes might have worked on Freeview... I can't remember using mine for Freeview.

Yes, remember that, until DSO at least, they were the same. The MUXs from the BBC, ITV/C4 and S4C remained on air throughout as they weren't run by ON/ITV Digital. The replacement 'Freeview' MUXs came on air on the same transmitters and using a lot of ex-ITV Digital equipment