Programming for HDTV

Why is it that everyone is excited about programming every other medium, but Im the only one excited about programming for HDTV ?

There are webisodes coming at us from every direction. Vuguru has done a great job with original programming for the web. Every cable and broadcast network it seems is doing companion programming on the web for their TV shows. Leverage the abilities of the PC and the net is an oft heard theme wtth content creators. And who can forget user generated content coming to us from every corner of the universe capable of everything and anything short of world peace !

There is original programming for phones and PDAs.coming from every direction. Discovery is doing 14 original series as are any number of content creators. The programming is being designed for the features of the device it will be played on . Phone viewers can respond in any number of ways. Content can take advantage of features of the device OS, whether it be Zune , IPod or IPhone , whatever. They may be as simple as integrating cover art rof CDs ot full interactivity and interaction.

Then of course there is programming for compatible TV. What is compatible TV ? Its programming that without alteration , looks the same on any and every TV you play it on. A color episode of Gunsmoke will play back from a VCR, DVD or TIVO pretty much the same way as an epsiode of Heroes on Grandmas old console as it will on a brand new 50″ HDTV . You never have to ask the question, “Will this work”

No one in the last 50 plus years has ever programmed content differently for different types of TVs. They programmed content “For TV”

That made sense in an analog world. It makes no sense to me in a digital world. Which is a key reason why we started HDNet of course.

But if I really think about TV these days, it actually makes more sense that traditional programmers program for compatible tv. Content creators have no choice but to do any differentiated programming on non TV platforms. Its about the economics.

There are 111.4 mm TV Households as of 2007 . There are more than 2.4 TVs per household. Thats about 270mm TVs in this country. Every single one of those TVs is critically important to content creators. They need every viewer they can get in order to sell ads and subscriptions to their programming.

If they were to program to the unique features and capabilities of the 44pct of households that own 52.5mm HDTV owners and are capable of receiving an HDTV signal, they would be excluding the viewers of about 240 mm compatible TVs as revenue sources (remember, hdtv owners can own and get an HD signal on more than 1 set which is why the numbers dont seem to add up). In this era of fast forwarding through commercials and other attacks on traditional tv viewership, there is no company of any size that can afford to ignore 240mm TVs.

Except for HDNet.

Our business is bullt on on ONLY programming for those households that have HDTVs and receive HD signals. We create programming that takes full advantage of the widescreen, resolution, color palette, 5.1 or better sound, digital connectivity and more to make great original programming better. Which is why our viewers always tell us that our picture quality always looks much better than others

But this post isn’t to brag about HDNet and HDNet Movies being the only 2 networks that program exclusively for HDTV. Its to get feedback on what type of programming works well on future HDTVs but not so well on compatible TV

HDTVs are much like PCs, they get bigger, better and cheaper year after year. This past year saw the biggest increase in the size of the average TV purchased, EVER . The size of the average HDTV is going to continue to grow.

So the real programming question is this.

What can you show on a 50, 60, 70″ or larger screen that you cant show on a traditional, compatible TV ?

The first type of programming that came to our minds is music concerts. Music concerts have never worked really well on compatible TV. Even the biggest of names tend to disappoint in terms of number of viewers. Its easy to understand why. The fidelity of sound coming from your analog set, even if its stereo, is not going to be that great.

On the flipside, a music concert on a big screen ,with 5.1 sound, particularly if its connected through the digital output to a nice set of speakers (something hard to find from an analog set) can be a great home experience.

To take advantage of this unique differentiation, we licensed every great concert that we could find and continue to do so. . Then we devoted an entire day of our programming, Sunday to concerts. We have shot, created or licensed more than 150 concerts and I dont know how many more music shows including our long running original True Music show and we play them all day, every Sunday.

That was the first step, what should be our next ?

What programming should be exclusive to HDTV viewers and not shown on regular TV ?

77 thoughts on “Programming for HDTV

  1. HD only content stream of consciousness:
    – stats
    – words, books, magazines
    – data
    – stars, space
    – macro stuff: medical, biological, things not normally seen by the nake eye
    – video game demo\’s/advertising
    – art masterpieces

    Comment by Mark Bollinger -

  2. nice blog

    Comment by dude -

  3. A lot of good comments here. Unfortunately, a lot of these ideas have already been had by HD channels. My thoughts:

    HD makes it possible for a person to have a clear picture on a larger set…but I wouldn\’t take that to mean that HD programming should be \”big TV\”-centric. What HD really provides is a clearer picture. How many people, when they first experience HD, say, \”It\’s like being there!\” or \”It\’s like looking through glass!\” I think this gives us our starting point: what would a person rather see in person than on TV?


    Sports programming has been mentioned by everyone, but it has its own hurdles, namely that ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are already doing it to one degree or another. So if you\’re going to do sports, you must do them BETTER. One weakness of all of these channels (except TNT) in their HD sports programming is that their picture isn\’t remarkably sharp. TNT actually does a better job of presenting sharp picture in NBA games than ESPN does, in my opinion…so I prefer TNT. Make sure your picture dazzles the eyes. Second, these other channels are now using HD cameras, but they aren\’t using them any differently than they used the old SD cameras. Why not get Steven Soderberg to audit traditional sports coverage and suggest new HD-friendly camera placement, angles, etc? TV makes everything look like it\’s on TV, while HD makes you feel like you\’re THERE. Yet you rarely see shots in the tunnels (basketball/football/hockey), wide shots of BOTH huddles (basketball), the view from the owner\’s box, etc., in HD sports programming. Why not? I like the IDEA of skycam, but it\’s usually poorly executed. As I understand it, this is because it is a very complex rig to operate. Why not make it simpler? Place a chip in each player\’s jersey that the camera can always \”see.\” Then the camera operator can simply click on which player or players they want the camera to focus on. Now the camera operator just has to \”fly\” the camera…and you have movie quality aerial shots.

    Thats it for traditional sports. Now lets move outside the box to the fun stuff. Who doesnt love sports turned on its ear? Im from small town USA, and some of my favorite memories are of when the Harlem Globetrotters, donkey basketball, etc, came to town. Its always more fun that you expect it to be once youre there. With that in mind, why not

    Youve already done Flugtag, cliff diving, etc. Now take the next step. How about American Gladiators? It was reality TV before reality TV was cool, and seeing it in HD would be appointment TV! How about battle of the network stars or battle of the (basketball/baseball/sports) stars? Fly competitors out to Hawaii, cover their trip, and all winnings go to their favorite charity. How about a Million Dollar Golf Challenge between Tiger Woods and _______? Golf looks much better in HD, but there are just not enough cameras to capture it all. Create a new event where the pro can strike the ball, and immediately we see a split screen of the golfer, the golfer hes competing against and the ball as it flies through the air. Have Charles Barkley host and walk with the golfers, chatting them up as they play. How about coverage of the Running of the Bulls? Get great images, interviews, etc., then edit it (its not something that you need to broadcast live), add graphics and youve got a strong HDNet Sports Special Event. The Tour de France would be great, with the first 10 or 15 stages prerecorded (so you could edit and intersperse interviews and special interest stories, a la the Olympics) and the last 5 or 10 stages broadcast live. Speaking of the Olympics, they SOUND like a good idea, but if you saw NBC/Universals coverage of the last Olympics, you already know the challenge there: WAY too many venues, not enough cameras. Besides, NBC owns Olympic coverage through the year 3204. Finally, what about Rugby? Everyone who sees it live falls in love with it, but on standard TV you cant see much of anything. Its got the live appeal of soccer, but with plenty of scoring, and NBA fans will pick up the offense and defense very easily.

    Traditional TV:

    I like what youre doing with picking up cancelled shows that had a cult following and rebroadcasting them (Dead Like Me, Jake 2.0), but I fear that you wont have a true hit on your hands until you actually pick up the show AND start producing original episodes. Heres a thought: NBCs Thank God Youre Here is a brilliant idea, but they are butchering it. Between a host and judge who act like they dont care (David Allen Grier and Dave Foley) and the fact that its in SD, the show isnt exploding. Theyll probably try it again next season, then let it drift off into oblivion. Pick it up, and create new episodes with a new host, with HD coverage to make it feel even more raw and improvised. Or better yet, bring back Whos Line Is It Anyway?. Improv comedy, when done well, is a sight to behold live, so it would be the same in HD. As for stand up comedy, its a good idea, but take it a step further, with interviews before and after comedy sets, stories about the comedians lives, etc.

    I wouldnt recommend simply following the HBO model (because youd come off as a second rate HBO), but they do understand one thing: they arent on network TV, and they dont have to live by network rules. Art Mann presents, Bikini Destinations and Get Out! are all good examples of this. How about a scripted weekly show at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, something along the lines of Melrose Place, but with the ability to live outside the network censors when the need arose?

    Places that are fun LIVE:

    Auto Shows, Broadway shows (this is actually a really good idea), music concerts (youre doing a great job of this), Vegas shows, all are truly enjoyable live, but barely passable on TV. What about a show called While Youre There, where the host(s) spend the entire episode (or two, or three) in a certain city, mapping out a perfect day? The day could be detailed, hour by hour, on your website, driving viewers there (and giving you the opportunity to partner with businesses in the city). As for amusement parks, it feels too much like a novelty to me. Sure, mounting a camera on the front of a roller coaster would be coolthe first time. Then what?

    Music programming:

    I work in sales in the music industry, and Im a music fan. I go to concerts and make a good living. The reason I say all this is to highlight that I dont have a zillion dollar audio system to go with my HDTV. I think that the more HDTVs that are sold, the more households that will be true of, which means that while concerts are a good idea, they arent the perfect idea for HD programming. Id warn against overprogramming.

    Branding SERIES:

    This is the most important point. You should always brand as many windows of time as possible. I know that you are branding whole nights (Sunday = Music, Monday = Sci Fi, Tues = News, Friday = mature programming, etc.), but what about branding SERIES of shows? For example, you have several sci fi shows that run throughout the week. Every sci fi show and every ad for every sci fi show should lead with HDNet Beyond Presents You could have HDNet Sports presents (you may already), HDNet Family presents, HDNet Sports Plus presents (for American Gladiators, Flugtag, Million Dollar Golf Challenge, Wacky Celebrity Sports Challenge), HDNet Curtain Call presents (Broadway shows, Auto Shows, Vegas Shows), HDNet music presents (already doing this), HDNet comedy presents (stand up comedy, whos line, etc.) HDNeTravel presents (While Youre There, etc.), HDNet After Hours presents (for late night programming thats not safe for the kiddies). Schedule the SERIES, not the show, so your viewers know that every Saturday at 7:00 they can watch an Out of Bounds Sports show, or every Monday at 7:00 they can watch HDNet Beyond. When you run out of Jake 2.0 episodes, you still have HDNet Beyond.

    Comment by Joel Shoemake -

  4. As head of digital media production (for a few more weeks) for a large traditional television company, we are producing made-for-broadband episodes & series too.

    However, we have invested in all HD gear, and while it\’s a challenge to actually get our producers and EP\’s to shoot in HD because all they\’re thinking is \”small screen.\”

    The hesitance of producers & directors to use their tools to their fullest ability typically stems from their crews not wanting to learn a \”new camera.\”

    Eventually these people will either step up and invest the time and energy in learning how to get the most out of the tools available to them, or they\’ll wash out of the business as more capable people come up.

    Comment by Jon Lawrence -

  5. Mark,

    I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching \”the wide world of sports\” on ABC. One of their strengths was that they spent time on \”weird\” sports.

    I think that would work well, though it\’s not cheap to send crews around to find those sorts of sports.

    I\’d also ask for bicycle racing, but that\’s mostly because the DirecTV feed of VS leaves a lot to be desired…

    Comment by Eric -

  6. I am all about the music shows and I want more. Branching out into the backstage world of the shows your shooting is right on track with what HD Net needs. The Bootleggers show is great!

    Looks like something Cuban should consider. Robert Randolph rocks!

    Comment by Esteban Roberts -

  7. I am not excited about poor quality programming for any medium. I feel this is what America has seen for the last 5+ years. Since 9/11, television programming has been poor enough that I quit watching television altogether. I no longer own a television set. If I want to watch a sporting event, I\’ll head over to the local bar. For the HD networks, all they need is one good show or one good event, and if the medium is as good as your hype, people will be hooked for a long time.

    Comment by Todd -

  8. Mark –

    Content/Programming that is a sure fire winner? Music! But you don\’t need to do the same old tired \”music video\” or \”concert series\”…. how about a show that gives viewers what they want about their favorite artists? A mix of in-depth interview (not VH1 style) with the artist\’s music…. performed raw. Bootlegger\’s Style……

    I am a principal with an Austin-based production company, Hecho en Cine. This past fall, we set out to create such a show – in HD. When Robert Randolph came through town, he and his crew were nice enough to give us full access before, during and after the show… check this out to get a taste:

    How does this grab you for a new HD-Net series???

    Comment by John Pitts -

  9. Mark, The old saying ….. if you build it they will come… The only reason why broadcasters and movie makers back off of developing ideas through HD is the cost of production….

    Comment by Ed -

  10. Mr Cuban: Why not digitally remaster old classic concerts…stevie ray, led zeppelin,…the list could go on for a while

    Another is these reality talent shows: ie..amerca\’s got talent,american idol, show\’s like that could use the sound upgrade

    I have the baby steps of a new show of this type , email me for details

    Comment by Patrick Mullins -

  11. It\’s been said over and over: SPORTS. I\’m especially pleased that you broadcast the MLS in HD. It\’s really hard to find any type of soccer on television, let alone High Definition.

    If you want to combine sports, entertainment and high ratings, I think you need to work with Vince McMahon and the WWE, and get those guys on your network. The WWE is not yet broadcast in HD. For those of us with HDTV sets, we\’ll be tuning in.

    Comment by Joe Kuzma -

  12. I\’ve had a 48\” HD set since 2003, and I never subscribed to HDNet, even though it has been available to me on Brighthouse.

    I love HD, and I often won\’t watch a show simply because it isn\’t available to me in HD — Battlestar Galactica, for example. I didn\’t watch the show until it came out on DVD, mostly because it looked terrible in SD.

    Yet, I will not watch something JUST because it is in HD. I\’ve never enjoyed watching concerts on TV and I don\’t care for concert films, either, so a giant screen and brilliant sound system won\’t change that.

    What I absolutely love, however, is original programming that is smart. Programming that doesn\’t aim for the lowest common denominator.

    Arrested Development
    The Office (UK and USA)
    Deadwood (spectacular in HD)
    Battlestar Galactica
    Big Love
    John from Cincinnati
    Lost (also spectacular in HD)
    Flight of the Conchords
    This American Life

    Give me great writing, great acting, great storytelling, and give it to me in eye popping HD, and I will happily fork over money each month.

    I remember when I first bought my HD set, I would watch the PBS HD feed, which at the time was nothing but nature shots, and helicopter views of European cities, but once the \”wow\” was gone, I went right back to the things that everyone wants in great television — great characters and great stories.

    Comment by Michael Monello -

  13. TechTV – We need a good technical TV show to replace TechTV. To show us how to connect our PC\’s to our PS3 to our HDTV.

    Comment by Jim -

  14. Here are a few ideas of what I\’d like to see in HD:

    1) Tour de France, Tour de California, etc. Right now this sport is not very popular in US but the backdrop of cycling would make for stuning TV if in HD. Cycling up and over the Alps, don\’t most of us dream to do that? This would make that experience come alive.

    2) Running with the Bulls – Another sporting event that is not heavily covered in the US. However in HD this would make the experience real even if you are not able to get to Spain or if you are afraid of getting gored.

    3) Adventure Races – several years ago there was an adventure race that I wish was broadcast in HD. The scenery was amazing.

    4) More concerts

    Comment by Chuck Roehrig -

  15. Brooks said it first. Nature docs.

    But also a lot of \”geek\” shows/movies where the vfx and 3d would really come to it\’s right.

    I would never watch Pans Labyrinth, 300 or (at some point) Transformers on a regular television. As opposed to say Oceans 13 and Closer.

    Comment by Andr Hedetoft -

  16. Sports. Specifically, the Mavericks. There is nothing worse than looking forward to a good game, then it is on Fox Southwest in regular format. If its in HD, my buddies come over and watch. If not, we dont.

    Comment by Bruce Becker -

  17. Dear Mark,

    The current breadth of Programming on HDNet is impressive. It already reflects your desire to highlight HD.
    The area for improvement is not in developing more topics, but in presenting a more edgy, exclusive angle on the topics you cover.
    I looked over the Program Summaries on, and I was surprised. Your viewers want exclusive and exciting storytelling. \”B is hanging out with C at SXSW.\” is not where you want to go. You want to say, \”HDNet Reporter, B, gets in over her head when she goes undercover as a cocktail waitress at a SXSW party. Her mission: to determine . . .\”
    The Planet Earth suggestion keeps popping up in these comments, but I say, go further. A show as stunning as Planet Earth with a compelling, dramatic narrative over the incredible setting will put you over the top. Viewers will get excited about the combination of reality and storytelling.
    Thanks for asking.
    Chrissie Atkinson

    Comment by Chrissie Atkinson -

  18. What programming should be exclusive to HDTV viewers and not shown on regular TV ?

    What an interesting question. Im sure that Henry Ford was asked a similar question when someone wished to know where the horses hitch would be on the Model T.

    For HDTV to be successful it will need to define its own programming and not copy that which currently exists for the analog world. Pioneers will see opportunities to delve into content that could not be imagined before. Rich colors, crisp images and large screen will be the foundation for great minds to create within.

    As someone who purchased the first Macintosh in 1984 I can tell you that the future is uncertain as it was then. But that little box of over twenty years ago changed the landscape for PCs. They started with a fun program called Paint. And paint it did. Today the entire advertising industry and graphics world is harnessed to a Mac. The employees of these companies only think in a digital world and have given up color pencils and other artistic tools. Yes the terms storyboard and comp still exist, but only as terms. The box does it all.

    The same catalyst for change is here with HDTV. Well not see change overnight, but rest assured that change will come and twenty years from now will be wondering how people lived without it. So think outside the crt and begin imagining our future.

    Comment by Jason Smith -

  19. very intresting opinion

    Comment by good day -

  20. I think that adventure travel shows like Everest climbs, The Long Way Around (and the upcoming Long Way Down), extreme river trips (any of the trips from the book The Dolphins Tooth) are perfect candidates for HD programming.

    The sense of scale and beauty that you get from HD is staggering, the everest shows in SD can\’t hold a candle to the ones broadcast in HD.

    Comment by Phillip Renouf -

  21. The \”planet earth\” series on Discovery is the most incredibile video I\’ve ever seen and have told hundreds of friends. well, maybe not hundreds….but…it is the greatest television I\’ve ever seen. Not sure what this means to you, but watch it and your jaw will drop.


    Comment by wally -

  22. Mark,
    Redeye cameras,4Kx2K sat broadcasts of concert and Met Opera stuff,and ram this tech lead down your competitors throats,for this fall.
    Oh wait,you are already going to do this!

    Comment by ron -

  23. still brain gouging on on movie marketing , but i have had HDTV ideas since my first viewing.
    HD–Bird\’s Eyeview , or HD-SkyBox/SkyCam , HD-Panorama , HD- TreeTop , HD-UpperLevel…….. see where i\’m headed.
    Nature, sporting events ,and other outdoor adventures/activities enhanced by widescreen AND an all encomposing view of field,court,rink,racetrack and non-sports programming Jungle Canopy , River Rapids (new braunsfels during season), Bat Cave entrance and that whole crazy mexican bat exodus , Reef Shot for the Scuba Dive , A Canyon with Para-Sail shot , \”City Shots\” -the major skylines and Big Weather Cam.
    Football games from the \”coach\’s upstairs perspective\” the WHOLE game, an expanded skycam for hoops , and a directly overhead cam for hockey (maybe with a partial splitscreen from ice level) , Horse Racing SkyBox – view the whole track.
    How about Amusement Park programs. Coaster Cam is always cool. But overhead shots would be interesting : the whole bird\’s eyeview concept. I want to watch an hour\’s worth of Blimp-Cam and get me directly into the big Hot Air Balloon event in Plano or New Mexico. \”Hot-Air Ballon Rides\” from some of the beautiful points and historic sites. Give me a couple hours worth Panorama Cam view of the new 7 Wonders of the World.

    Marc i sure APPRECIATE how you have made a difference in the landscape of life. Your thoughts and willingness to express them are great but your actions and drive complete the positive high integrity package that you consistently are. Good health 2yours, and god bless , and keep up the great f\’n job !!
    thanks, paul

    Comment by Paul Miller -

  24. Having sold HDTVs for three years, I have to say this is one of the toughest questions to answer. I agree that concerts work better in HD. So do sports such as MotoX, extreme sports, skiing looks fabulous. Movies (Turner Classics?).

    I think the VOOM programming on DISHNetwork has a good start. There\’s Equator (sort of National Geographic), RAVE (Music and concerts), WorldSport (Soccer is a LOT more interesting in HD), and other stuff (including MotoX).


    Comment by Ericc -

  25. I agree with the person who mentioned the Olympics. Someone needs to broadcast some live footage of the Olympics. The sports… not the public interest fluffy crap NBC et al shows.

    Comment by Scott -

  26. I read a small portion of ur blog on the engadgetHD site and pretty much agree w/ u, when u say some content dont need to be in HD.

    Movies and shows that lack a great amount of visual detail like The Departed, The Pursuit of Happiness, Syriana, etc dont need to focus so much in being in HD. Dont get me wrong it looks nice but pq wise its enough visual details in the scenes that\’ll make me go wow. Basically I can watch the dvd and the bluray version and at the end of the day most of it pretty much look the same.

    Now liveshots of large vasts of landscapes…live events where u can see the sweat of the players, the faces of the fans and even see what kind of beer the fans in the middle row is sippin on…and of course the animations. Ur getting bombarded w/ so much clear visual detail u dont kno what to do w/ urself. Its all about detail to me thats why stations like Discovery get my attention w/ their content. Dont matter what it is…its all about the details my friend.

    Comment by Diceburna -

  27. Being my personal fave, I still think auto racing is untapped. When telemetry data from the car is overlaid on a 4:3 aspect shot, such as in-car camera shot, the data obscures some of the visual. With 16:9, there\’s a lot more room to add data streams, which complement the visual.
    Right now, the American LeMans, the IndyCar, the Champ Car, etc., series only have 4:3 broadcasting. Even Formula 1, the supposed pinnacle of high-tech, is broadcast in the U.S. in 4:3 on Speed.

    The data overlay suggestion applies as well to nature and education shows, etc. For example, now, if data (such as a ticker along the bottom of the screen) is overlaid, the it\’s just presented in larger format on a 16:9 screen. The goal instead should be to better layout, and make better use of the additional area on the 16:9 format – not just enlarge the data on a 4:3 layout.

    Comment by Thomason -

  28. Hi Mark,

    I disagree with your premise. I have the NFL Sunday Ticket, and if I understand your premise correctly, I will watch whatever is in HD over the SD broadcast based solely on the PQ and sound. But if the Eagles are in SD, or only avail. on radio, I\’m watching/listening to them. I would say content trumps the medium, still, though it\’s a close call.

    If I\’m you, I lookin at the HDnet audience and creating original content in HD, like a scripted/reality show set in an IT department, etc.

    Comment by scott -

  29. hey mark, cut a deal in vegas to tape then broadcast the individual shows in the casinos… big win for everybody … i can pull it off … go for it , regards t. v. …

    Comment by tigervidmar -

  30. First, the reason everyone isn\’t excited about programming for HDTV is that linear networks just don\’t garner the excitement they once did.

    Oh sure, linear nets will be around for a long time but non-linear forums are the new kid on the block and everybody wants to hang with the new kid.

    Also, I think industry people see HD just as something that will eventually be available in the non-linear world. When the streaming rate gets to a reliable 10mbs (probably only a few years) HD will start showing up on demand, on your computer without program schedules.

    It\’ll just be part of an evolution, rather than its own revolution. Evolution just isn\’t as exciting as revolution. That doesn\’t make it any less viable, it\’s just not gonna garner the same amount of press.

    Plus, I think, most nets are already shooting stuff in HD and dumbing it down to SD. The idea being that SD\’s days are limited and, since cost of shooting HD is comperable to shooting SD, it makes sense to have your programming rerunnable beyond the lifespan of the SD format.

    The reason few people shoot specifically for HD is that it\’s hard to justify the cost for something that only works in HD and once HD becomes the norm you loose the cache of the awesome picture quality and you\’re back to the story being the most important thing.

    When SD breathes its last breath programmers will feel more comfortable allowing content that utilizes HD\’s picture and Sound quality to the point that the story would be lost in SD. i.e. if you need the clarity of picture and sound of he HD set to \”get\” the story you\’re trying to tell week in and week out, you\’re going to be hard pressed to find funding as long as SD is the dominant format.

    As for programming that utilizes HD\’s unique video & audio capacity I think the travel option could be dead on the mark. I explored an idea a while back for travel show that went to all of the great festivals all over the world. The problem: TV just didn;t immerse you in the sights and sounds enough to really pull it off. The HD format with it\’s huge color range, realistic resolution and fabulous surround sound might solve that problem. It\’s probably worth looking into if you\’re willing to fund it for for the audience your net gets.

    Something like that would probably play well to a small but monieyed niche. You might be able to sell your adspace, at a high enough CPV to turn a profit, to the High-end, Luxury & Designer type advertisers if you can show that your audience is well to do and willing to spend.

    Do your #s bear this out?

    Comment by ~ART~ -

  31. In Response to #3:

    I think Discovery is doing nothing but dropping the ball on nature programming (one of the best parts of owning and viweing HDTV) For the short time I had access to DiscoveryHD (before having to add it on) the only programming they offer is American Chopper, Monster Garage, Home Makeover Shows, etc…

    It is amazing to me that Discovery has sustained this kind of brand recognition of being a leader in nature series\’ despite the fact that for the last 5 or so years they rarely if ever feature such shows, and have all but ceased original nature programming…

    I watch all of my nature programs on the TPT HD(local public station in HD) but I think there is a tremendous opportunity to fill in the void left by Discovery in this regard.

    Comment by Morris -

  32. My recommendation would be for: 1) NHL hockey; 2) travel shows; 3) nature shows. Hockey in HD, when done right, is phenomenal and makes the experience only second to being at the game. IMHO, part of the reason why hockey is still so unpopular in the U.S. is that the game looks so amateurish on SD and the camera & sound work is so far from the ice that you can\’t get the \”full effect\”. I want to see the fast-paced action (especially the puck) and hear the bone crushing hits in HD and 5.1+ sound and not smudged out and muffled. Travel shows (Lonely Planet/Pilot Guides, for ex.) would provide excellent exposure to other lands and cultures. Lastly, have you seen BBC\’s \”Planet Earth\” in Blu-ray/HD-DVD?? Watch it and tell me it\’s not some of the most stunning footage your eyes have ever seen on a screen.

    Comment by Raj Singh -

  33. Mark,

    Producing and delivering your content to the masses is obviously the key. Doing it in a quality way that doesnt require a third party network (who maybe doesnt uphold the same standards) is also key. Direct media distribution can solve some of that as long as its simple (doesnt need a PC to manage it) to use and understand. Perhaps you should consider taking your network terrestrial.

    OK programming:
    Any event or live spectacle that draws a crowd works well with HDTV. You mentioned concerts (I just watched The Moody Blues at the Greek on HDNet last night), of course sports, live theatre, etc., all relatively easy to produce. Maybe the answer is to find new ways to monetize the marquee content that consumers want to see. I would have gladly paid $100 to see the Police concert live (or near live) on my 60 Plasma with full surround sound instead of paying the near $1,000 it cost me to fight the crowd to physically be there.

    The day HDTV displays become the majority of the installed base is the day well also see more programmers like you who care about aesthetic quality. That day may not be too far off if we have anything to say about it 😉

    Comment by Tim Elliott -

  34. Sports: high school, college, or any pro league you can license.

    Anything outdoors.

    Comment by Ben Guest -

  35. The next wave of HD-exclusive content has to play to HD\’s strengths. So, the first question you have to ask yourself is \”What are HD\’s strengths?\” The answer is anything that requires a large screen and an incredible amount of audio and visual detail. The next question is \”What kind of shows require a large screen and incredible audio and visual detail?\” You\’ve covered some of the biggest and most obvious ideas: live sports and concerts. They\’re big, they\’re loud, and they look great in HD. Now, you\’ve also got your eye candy like Discovery HD theatre, which looks phenomenal. What you truly need is something that keeps people coming back week after week after week. The advantage of HD is that you can have cinematic production values on a weekly series. If you can put together an HDNet exclusive series with excellent production values and an engrossing storyline with a big name attached (Spielberg, Cameron, etc.), you could make HDNet more than just another channel to have; you could make it a necessity for anyone with HD.

    Comment by Adam Licht -

  36. Not to sound too highbrow here, but what about art? You may not be able to get to the Louvre, but you could see the Mona Lisa in HDTV. Imagine being able to view major works of art from all over the world along with a narrated tour of each artist. We get walking tours of art museums downloaded onto our iPods. Why not skip the walking and view it all from the comfort of our living rooms?

    Or what about some of those great exhibits that tour the country? I\’m thinking along the lines of the human body exhibit that was done with all the cadavers recently. Or, what about something like the King Tut exhibit that was recently in Chicago? Are you telling me that people wouldn\’t tune in to that? That exhibit was sold out almost immediately. Given the choice of waiting in line for 3 hours, or watching it on your own time frame at home, how many people would choose watching it from home? Yes, you lose out on perspective and scale, but the convenience of the situation may just offset that factor.

    Don\’t just limit it to art in museums. What about walking tours of major tourist destinations? Rome? Athens? The Great Wall of China? A cruise down the coast of South America? You could go just about anywhere.

    Just a random thought that was rattling around in my noggin.

    Comment by donkey hoatie -

  37. Saying that the HDNets are \”the only 2 networks that program exclusively for HDTV\” isn\’t quite true. The 15 channels of the Voom HD Networks program exclusively for HD.

    Comment by Mike Vosges -

  38. I just switched to Fios service with 20 or so HD channels, and I\’ve been pretty disappointed with what\’s available on HD. There\’s only so many times I can watch pretty snakes eat pretty insects, rodents and frogs. And stuff that should be cool in HD (some PBS programming about the solar system) wasn\’t actually HD.

    The Bourne movie on TNT looked good (and sounded good routed through my home theater system), and the HD picture is better even on my 2nd TV (a standard definition thing), but it\’s been pretty meager fare so far. The golf did look really nice. Hopefully there will be more HD programming soon.

    Comment by kjb -

  39. PBS broadcast its show \”Nature\” in HD last night. The wide angle shots of vast, running herds of Zebras and flying flocks of Flamingos, set against the breathtaking landscape, was mesmerizing. I\’ve never been so enthralled by a nature show before.

    Comment by Robert Mocambo -

  40. i agree with the guy that suggested Hockey.. also any \”live feed\” action sports ie: surfing

    Comment by bobby -

  41. We watched the Moody Blues last night and it was great!

    Comment by R. Ferguson -

  42. Concerts! I agree completely. Just look at the Live Earth show. All of the concerts in Asia looked miserable over here in Wisconsin. The only thing that worked was the sound and on mhy regular old tube TV that wasn\’t impressive either.

    Comment by dish network -

  43. mark – i\’m with you on this. i want more HD programming, and i want more channels to do what yours does – present shows that take advantage of the HDTV capabilites. to me HDTV is an opportunity to transform television from merely being audio visual information to being a delightful EXPERIENCE. here is how i think about it:

    TV shows me things.
    HDTV should TAKE ME THERE.

    so the question i ask myself is, what do people do when they want an experience? where do they go?

    a short list of answers is:

    – sporting events.
    – amusement parks.
    – travel to nature-rich places like national parks.
    – travel to unique cities.

    so the question then becomes how do you take people to these things while letting them sit on their couch?

    a lot of the HDTV i see is disappointing. much of it is basically SD stuff shot in higher resolution. producers are totally failing to take advantage of the audio aspects of HDTV. (football is an exception, they have some low frequency stuff added to graphics, and they pump crowd noise through the surrounds which is neat.)

    so let\’s define the problem of a lack of EXPERIENCES in two pieces: video, and audio.

    video is reasonably straightforward as just about everything looks better in HD. nature shows are a slam dunk. adding 5.1 audio to them would be even better. going to the beach, or the woods, or the mountains in real life – there are sounds all around us. can someone please fill my tv room with crickets chirping? monkeys howling? grass rustling? (everyone does rain, but thats easy – they just dump pink noise to my surrounds in post.)

    sports is another example where the audio can be improved. i want to feel like i am at the NBA games i watch. i want less of marv albert coming out of my center channel, (\”dirk hits another one from DOWNTOWN!\” [viewer jabs knitting needles in ears]) and more sounds of the players. again, bring me the sounds of squeaking sneakers from the right and left channel. give me crowd noise from the rear surrounds. make me think i\’m courtside! give me an experience! and i want to hear the players too. sure, they probably say lots of stuff that david stern doesnt want me to hear, but i\’d hear it at the game right? i want to hear them call each other by their nicknames, and call plays. i want to hear the verbal cues they use to adapt rapidly to a changing defense and still run a great play. i want to hear the \”oh shit\” from a defender when a fast-breaking guard goes up over him and dunks. i want to hear the rim rattle. i want to hear what the foul shooter hears in a hostile arena. and i want the contrast to what the hometown star hears on the foul line – nothing. (the inane chatter of announcers f-ing kills me.)

    i guess i could say the same for baseball but i find it dreadfully dull on tv, even HDTV. maybe get a guy to come into my tv room, sell me a beer and a hot dog? 🙂

    golf and hockey are instantly improved by HDTV just due to resolution. as a guy who has seen a lot of live hockey games, i\’d like to see the way the camera shooting is done for NHL games change to adapt to the capabilities of HDTV. in SD you have to stay pretty zoomed on the puck. in HD, you don\’t the little thing is more easily seen. so zoom out a bit and make it easier to see plays develop and to watch the action away from the puck. i want to see the lagging defenseman drop the left wing to the ice as everyone else moves up ice to the other net. for audio, see my comments about the NBA games. put me rinkside. when guys go slamming into the boards, i want my walls to rattle!

    the other experience? amusement parks. heck, i bet they would pay you to do shows on their parks. this might be stealing from IMAX, but having cameras on rides, and having 5.1 sound would rule. this sounds weird but i bet that people that can\’t go to disney/six flags would enjoy seeing it on TV if it was an experience.

    lastly, travel shows. i\’ve been watching rick steve\’s and rudy maxa\’s half hour segments on travel to europe. they are reasonably well shot, but the audio sucks. they put a camera smack in the middle of a piazza in milan, one brimming with people, and the audio is rudy maxa droning on about some silk shop. let me hear the sounds – don\’t show it to me, TAKE ME THERE. and then rudy goes to the factory where the silk machines are weaving it into cloth and you can\’t hear it! one of th emost interesting things about visiting factories is all the weird sounds they make!

    other good shows to have in HD? it\’s probably not possible to upconvert well but all those shows on the military channel (i\’ve watched a handful over the past year) would rock in HD. stuff with jets flying by, tanks rumbling, explosions? all would rock in HD. (i\’m torn because i am anit-war, but i find military equipment to be enthralling.) audio is self-explanatory. there was an IMAX that i saw a while back called \”fighter pilot.\” it ruled, but better audio would have blown my mind.

    so that\’s it. i hope this helps you guys think about this and make your channel better. remember:

    TV shows you things.
    HDTV takes you there.

    Comment by lee -

  44. HDNet and HDNet Movies are the only HD-only networks? What about all of the Voom channels?

    Comment by Brad -

  45. Sports isn\’t as simple as it looks.

    Right now the SDTV broadcast of a sporting event — like a baseball game — is just the HDTV broadcast with the edges cut off. But since it is programmed for both SDTV and HDTV, the HDTV broadcast suffers.

    If you knew you were only programming for HDTV, you could do stuff — wide shots, split screen, intricate graphics, sounds, picture-in-picture — that you couldn\’t do any other way. How would you change the way you used cameras, the way you told the story?

    Perhaps the main difference would be the use of wide shots that allowed you to see 1st and 3rd base at the same time — shots that you can\’t use now because the SDTV viewer would see only the middle of the field.

    The exact same reasoning applies to basketball and football and, as other folks have noted, even moreso to hockey, which sucks in SDTV.

    So my question to you is: can you get rights to these sports for an entirely unique, parallel broadcast vs. the SD rights? As it stands now, probably not. Maybe start with a minor league game and impress the hell out of us, Mark. I\’d like to see it.

    Comment by Josh Bernoff -

  46. How about Goverment Meetings, more goverment should be opened up to the public, if goverments are being ethical and equal why do they have to have private meetings anyway.

    Open, honest, transparent government meetings on subjects that effect all of us would make good exclusive HDTV.

    Regards Charlie

    Comment by Charles McGill -

  47. why don\’t you answer if you any good progects from the last post you did on the same subject? are we to assume that since you are putting up the same/similar post that you got nothing of value to chase down?
    anyway, i second the hbo path comment. when i worked at a financial news tv network, i had posed the question of why not produce more off beat shows (tech show was what i suggested) when the different studios are empty (some weekdays and all weekend). they could have used in-house people (~1500 programming staff, i\’m sure you have a few tv worthy, like me 8^0 ) that are up on the latest greatest.
    the point is this, you already produce your own shows, you just call them concerts. every day that equipment (i do like the trailer inventory list on hdnet\’s website) sits idle is a waste, like the studios i talked about. the question is how far from the safe, low hanging fruit will you allow yourself to go.
    my question to you is, will someone who posts a great/picked up idea, get anything in return, other than the warm fuzzies that he/she helped build someone else\’s empire?

    Comment by gary -

  48. i\’d keep pointing your nose toward live music programming.
    the return of mtv unplugged has had more buzz surrounding that than anything mtv has aired in the past seven years. the \”SOS\” (Save Ourselves Concert) all over the globe on July 7 was predicted to be a total flop…..check the ratings..(even Bravo\’s). not that i am partial, but to me, the entertainment programing is ready for High Definition AUDIO and VIDEO. especially when the summer is full of re-runs and the cost to make this programming is minimal and sharing with record companies has never been easier.

    Comment by Jimmy Daniel -

  49. Clearly, Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy, animation, etc., is the best way to demonstrate the lush visual and aural qualities of hi-def.

    Comment by Charles -

  50. I don\’t get HDNet or HDNet Movies on Cox cable. And I only have a 46\” (Sony Bravia XBR3) because it\’s already too big for the living room and I don\’t need 5.1 to hear people snicker about my manhood when they see the thing.

    But here is what works for me. 1. Anything non-nature-show on Discovery HD. American Chopper is way better in HD, it feels like the Teutels and Vinnie are in my living room building bikes. inHD (MOJO) has great shows… London Live is filmed much differently than other concerts. That King of Miami show is just hilarious. Three Sheets is also a neat use of HD. They do some popup pictures and graphics over the video that would be too fuzzy for SD. Oh, and food look amazing in HD. ESPN… Baseball is amazing in HD. I\’m not into NASCAR, but I can see how that works in HD. Golf is also amazing in HD. I feel like I could read the greens.

    Hot girls in bikinis/swimsuits works much better in HD. For example, that Direct TV commercial with Pam Anderson is just different in HD compared to SD. The people who did that commercial are seriously screwing with every guy in HDTV land. If you\’ve seen the commercial enough, you know exactly what I\’m talking about.

    Comment by Brad Hutchings -

  51. How about something simple, like a Las Vegas show? Drag an HD crew all over Vegas, doing short clips on all the goofy stuff there.

    Las Vegas addicts would tune in. Give away some free trips too.

    Comment by Roger -

  52. Mark, I think you should focus on independant films. Here is why…there are almost 14,000 independant films made each year Due to the bottleneck on movie distribution and costs not many movies will make it to the big screen. so here is the MODEL!

    1. start a website that allows any independant film maker to post previews and trailers on the website. Maybe even the first 15 minutes of the film.

    2. allow consumers to vote on all 14,000 films

    3. play the top voted films on HdNet

    as the longtail will suggest people do want to see those films but with the old distribution model they will not be able to.

    Give people the chance to vote on what they LIKE from the site. Then play the top voted movies on HdNet.

    Comment by Mason - Bizdom U -

  53. Mark,
    Soccer! Millions of kids in this country are growing up playing it, a billion fans already exist around the world. I think the reason that it hasn\’t worked well here in the US is that it doesn\’t work too well on SD TV. Get some deals to show the European league games and the MLS games, and I think it would work.

    Comment by Archie Manning (Really) -

  54. High Definition seems to be best suited for situations in which details can be appreciated. Maybe this means the details are not usually seen but when shown in HD they are eye-opening. Maybe it means the details are typically overlooked but when zoomed/slowed down in HD they are interesting. I think the greatness of Planet Earth is that the visuals are usually of things people cannot do or see on their own.

    I think something that would make baseball more exciting to watch would be if there were multiple high definition camera feeds and the viewer could toggle between them. Could you give the viewer the ability to control which camera they see on their television? I would love to watch pitches from behind home plate in HD and then switch to a camera zoomed in behind the infield to watch the ball be fielded and thrown to first. The ability to choose different angles of vision would be awesome.

    Comment by Mike S -

  55. all in all–ive been checking out hdnet ever since I had it with Voom satellite years ago. It seems the whole time, HDNet has struggled to find its identity and instead trying to capture the WHOLE HDTV consumer which is as diverse as…..the hd channel lineup.

    Here\’s my thoughts:

    #1 HDNet is sandwiched in the blackhole of channels. Dan Rather can be ok (cannabis was a great episode though), but the World Report is horribad–makes me think im watching PBS. Speaking of Rather, needs more publicity/marketing and something a little bit more to spruce it up (but NOT fox news on screen animation bits)
    The shows are ok: most of the series were bad when they debuted on their original channels.

    #2 In not sure what the direction HDNet is going or wants to be. It seems that you had $x budget and tried to get as many hd shows no matter how they fit together. I tune into certain channels expecting a certain genre.

    #3 I love the concerts and I never liked concerts on tv. However, Sundays Im not really into a concert watching mood. Friday/Sat evenings would be great..either watching them, or having them on in the background during dinner parties, or just to unwind.

    #4 Education TV??

    #5 Stand up Comedy–basically the concert deal. BET,Com Central have stand up, but not HDTV–and most of them are just 30sec blurps/remixes taped together and edited terribly.

    #6 Nature/Travel in hdtv does well..however, many other channels already do that. Doesnt differentiate wanting to watch HDnet.

    #7 Sports: great but prolly expensive for licensing. Mavs HDTV would be great in the dfw market, but probably not too far out. Hockey is better in HDTV but is such a niche market. And even as much as I am a sports fan–theres many other HD channels that offer solid coverage.

    #8 Theatre/Broadway–not my cup of tea-but good idea. Goes with the idea of catering to a more affluent audience.

    #9 Tech Shows –yes! G4 channel is too nerdy and focuses on too much gaming (more of the d&d crowd). I love wired magazine b/c it focuses on technical aspects of normal news bits and not so much gaming or how to program you linux. Id watch a \’wired\’ news program.

    #10 Original Programming-very hard to break in and capture an audience w/out an identity. However, the benefactor was a decent idea but I believed failed b/c it wasnt YOUR style. It seemed like the networks pressed or limited things too much to serve a certain audience. Create something new that generates the kind of excitement that you bring without the network feeling.

    Comment by Jeff Winkfein -

  56. Anything that lends itself to a more immersive experience. That is, music concerts, nature/travel/adventure programming, even sporting events. Brooks is right, Discovery\’s Planet Earth is *killer* HD content. Sporting events would be great, too–if all of the networks broadcasting them didn\’t make them look like ass by over compressing them.

    Comment by Dave -

  57. Isn\’t this all a moot point? Aren\’t the broadcast networks and local stations required to go to all-HD programming sometime next year? Or is it 2009?

    I don\’t think the problem is finding programming that\’s better in HD — it ALL is already better — but rather making the HD programs compatible with iPods, mobile phones, etc. When everyone is doing all HD over the air and down the cable, it will be the creative repackager who\’ll gain an advantage.

    All I want now is more HD from my lousy cable provider. For instance, The Golf Channel and Comcast are doing every PGA Tour event in HD, but I can\’t get it! Golf is SO superior in HD it\’s scary. All sports are superior in HD. All films are superior in HD. All concerts are superior in HD.

    As always, the cable and satellite providers don\’t want to spend a nickel without getting a dime or a quarter from us first!

    (As for live plays and operas, the movie theater industry is already using satellite pay-per-view for that purpose, and actually finding some success. Is Landmark doing that, Mark?)

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  58. I only watch television broadcast in High Definition. Life is too short and my HD DVR ensures that I get everything I can out of my HDTV purchase.

    1. The Olympics should be broadcast on HDNET

    2. I\’d love to see an Amusement Park HD show which put an HD camera on different rides around the world.

    3. I\’d like to see a reality television show set in space on HDNET. I\’m thinking Big Brother on the International Space Station with a bent on educating the public about what it will take to survive a long-term tenure in zero gravity.

    Comment by Joshua Minton -

  59. I agree with those that say you should grab a couple big names, and also the guy who says you should out-do HBO at drama.

    Aaron Skorkin, for example, has done beautiful work in HD for NBC, only to have the suits screw things up. Get a guy like that to do a drama based in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Comment by Scott Yates -

  60. In fact, I think that might be the way to go: treat yourselves like HBO, where you are able to attract directors/producers that want to expand/explore the HD medium. HDNet provides the freedom to flex their visual muscles in the same way that premium cable channels allow writers/producers to explore storylines using language and nudity and themes that would be verboten on network.

    Comment by RSaunders -

  61. I had thought about the theatre aspect, too; I think it only works though if you can capture what it feels like to be in the venue.

    In the travel/Discovery vein: IMAX HD would seem sensible. Anything MacGillivray would seem perfectly suited. Is there a camera with digital HD equivalent to IMAX film?

    I think something that combines people\’s voyeuristic impulses with the ability to render micro detail would make sense: imagine an HD webcam that let you view what the \”actor\” is writing or typing. There are probably non-pornographic possibilities. Most documentaries seem to do this.

    Even in traditional narrative, though, this could help. Imagine a detective show or police stakeout that required this kind of detail. It could expand the repertoire of CSI and the like by providing a way to illustrate OCR or face recognition more realistically as a tool for committing/solving crimes. Recruit Michael Mann to shoot a purely HD crime show.

    Comment by RSaunders -

  62. Sports, sports, and more sports. We do not have HDTV yet but after spending the weekend and seeing sports in HDTV on their new set, I was absolutely blown away.

    I know licensing is expensive but if you became the leader in HDTV sports of any kind it would be watched. Buy up the College Sports TV and get their contracts so you can push the sports to HD. May be revenue neutral on the CSTV side, but a winner on the HDNET subscriber side.

    Comment by Tom -

  63. I\’m putting my two cents in for educational broadcasts. I wrote a college algebra course for online instruction several years ago and feel that broadcasting online courses in HD would be a great advantage to students who want online education without the highway robbery of UoP. Keep me in mind when you start that EdHD channel, Mark. You could offer a full baccalaureate degree and have enough programming for a 24/7 HD channel. I want in!

    Comment by Jo Beth -

  64. Live Standup Comedy

    Comment by Steve -

  65. I\’ve met Leo several times as well. I was using his show as an example of HD content that was looking for a network. It might not \”need\” HD.

    I think tech shows around current HDTV shows would be both interesting, and have a benefit of being in HD. How about an hour \”behind the scenes\” tech show about an HDTV created movie, then show the movie itself. Same thing for the soccer, maybe not every game, but it would be interesting to see just what it takes to get a game together.

    Comment by Paul Cyopick -

  66. Mr Paul Cyopick,
    I\’m a big fan of Leo Laporte, met the guy at PME 2005. But watching Leo Laporte in HDTV and anything tech for that matter is a grand waste of bandwidth and use of energy.

    Comment by iConJohn -

  67. LeafTV and RaptorsTV here in Toronto do a great job in their \”behind the scenes\” coverage of their respective teams in HD. Life stories, the technology behind how a game gets on television, pre and post game interviews etc.

    I actually didn\’t know I had HDTV until a month or so ago, even though I\’ve had my 55\” HDTV since christmas. It\’s buried on Rogers cable amongst the pay per view moview channels.

    I think tech shows would be great to see. I think a fair portion of hdtv viewers are tech savvy. I knwo Leo Laprte\’s latest show is filmed in HD, although not shown in HD here.

    Comment by Paul Cyopick -

  68. Mark, I\’ve had, and been addicted to HDTV for over 5 years now. But I must stress it has been Over The Air (OTA) HDTV. Early on, I remember the host (Steve Martin? maybe) of the Oscars mentioning that the show was being broadcast in HDTV….and a big hello to the guys at Circuit City was the punchline. I\’ve had no need for cable or sattelitte since 2001 and I get my HDTV fix from PBS, Nova, Saturday Night Live, NFL, NBA on ABC and todays 4 hour Wimbledon Final. As for a DVR I\’m fortunate to have an Elgato 500 to record to my G5 and it\’s uncompressed! Long live free HDTV!

    Comment by iConJohn -

  69. I have to disagree with something that \”only goes to HD\” I think at the end of the day each consumer comes up with their own preferred method of content delivery. I listen to the daily show as audio only while doing my dishes every night my roommate hates to do this. My sister commutes on public transportation, so she watches it on her iPod.

    Granted the daily show and the next blockbuster are two different beasts, and the above example doesn\’t hold up well in your context. However thinking in walled gardens, where the distributor trys to impose on the consumer the experience he or she thinks makes the most money is doomed to not reach the widest consumer base.

    Take your above concert example, people tend to not want to sit and watch concerts, die hard fans will sit through it, and real music afficianados are inclined to see concerts they otherwise couldn\’t. But if you put High Def programming and also let people take that video on their ipod and make it portable they can listen to it for the audio as well, now you have a compelling product to a much broader audience.

    I tottally agree with you that some stuff just is better on huge high def screens, but I think if you really want to expand the reach and market of HD content looking for the next thing in programming is a much harder battle, then merely expanding the value of the content already in production and already with a nich audience.

    Comment by Brendan Piper -

  70. Hockey.

    Shooting hockey for SD is hard because on a wide shot the puck is virtually invisible, smaller than a pixel. So most hockey on TV is shot with very narrow field of view. You see the player with the puck, but you don\’t see the whole play.

    Hockey on HD would not just look better, it would enable a whole different way of taping a game, more like the live experience.

    Of course hockey is a niche market, of dubious value to broadcasters. I\’m not sure it would make business sense, but it does answer your question of a viewer experience that is potentially unique to HD.

    Comment by Martin -

  71. This is such an interesting question that is also hard to answer. I can only give you my opinion on what matters when I watch the shows and I like to think that I will be reflective of the masses.

    First a little demo of me:

    34 year old male, Retail Manager, 4 TV\’s, 1 HDTV w/ directtv HD Tivo and one additional Tivo. My wife is the only other that resides in the house. We have 3 computers. During the normal tv season we have 26 programs that are recorded that we tend to watch nightly when I arrive home from work. That is not including my Discovery and TLC programing that I alone watch or her Desperate Housewives and Wife Swap and all that crap. LoL

    I can honestly say Mark, I have only watched your channel twice. Once for an Alison Krause concert and the other one was the late night show on some burning thing in Arizona I think.

    The programing for your channel does not appeal to me as I am not a music fanatic and only LISTEN to music, and I don\’t particularly like Dan Rather. I hate to say it, but they are the only things I can remember about HDNet without looking at the programming guide. I do not know about the direction that you are trying to guide the channel, but it is not on the same path as I am.

    How about grabbing some talent from the internet and let them run with their ideas. There is some quality content that would make for great TV. I would love to see some of my friends in the playground get some development money.

    E-Mail me, let\’s chat. I will send you my number and I can give you shows that are on the verge if they could just get some backing.

    Thanks and good luck.

    Comment by Jeff Persch -

  72. 1) Porn. Of course, you\’re not going to go there, but they always seem willing to be early adopters.

    2) Sporting events. I really didn\’t understand the point of hockey until I saw a live game. The small screen didn\’t show you what was happening away from the puck. Major franchises would be tough, but what about the unusual sports? motorcycle racing and formula 1 come to mind. Speed Channel has almost abandoned motorcycle coverage.

    3) Really independent films. With major studios having twisted indie to mean lower budget but still the same. Indie films still need a good venue. It\’s a shame \’On The Lot\’ was so poorly put together. It could have been a way to educate film makers and highlight quality work. That would fit HD.

    4) Teaching material. Remote learning always ends up being supplemented on-line, because the resolution of the TV isn\’t good enough. HDTV would do a much better job. Not really a good market, but a good use of the technology.

    5) Travel material. It\’s got the right demographic. You can cover some of the spectacular sites of the world. Great sound and image. Fits the wealthier demographic. Get the sensation of being there. The only thing missing is smell-o-vision for the great food.

    Comment by Daryll Strauss -

  73. Mark –

    What about broadcasting broadway shows or other theater performances? I don\’t know what your demographics are for HDNET, but it seems to me that it has similar characteristics to a music concert and would work much better on HD with surround sound than on analog television. Another possibility is Cirque du Soleil, which I think might show up on Bravo every now and again, but could be spectacular in HD.

    Comment by Gorman -

  74. Mark,
    Loved watching HDNET on my HDTV but all of a sudden it was removed by my cable company in South Florida (Comcast). Is this a countrywide thing?

    Comment by Ruben -

  75. Discovery is doing a good job with Planet Earth in HD — the hook there is that it\’s so beautifully shot that it\’s mesmerizing to look at. That doesn\’t work on SDTV.

    So stuff that focuses on sheer visual beauty is going to work well. Nature works, though it would be hard to show up Discovery in their main area of expertise. Movies (or episodic shows) that emphasize visual clarity and beauty would work; think Dark City or Fifth Element, or that cheesy 90\’s show Silk Stalkings.

    It\’s probably also worth asking \”what works better in IMAX than normal theaters\” — they have the same competitive differentiation issues, and even the same technical advantages. Might as well learn from their successes/failures. So far, they\’ve done great with nature, space, underwater, etc, where the environments are immersive.

    Comment by Brooks -

  76. Let us step back a moment. At the height of radio, families would gather and be taken away. What radio had, the advent of T.V. took away, imagination! Radio brought characters the audience identified with, characters that were more like friends than personalities and characters people wanted to become.

    Few \”character\’s\” have that impact today, only two come to mind; \”Run – Run\’s House(Vh1)\” and \”Greg House – House(Fox)\”. The idea of bringing live music into the home is not new BUT those who succeed in making it comparably entertaining will have made magic.

    I created and copyrighted a T.V. Show called \”Featured\” that accomplishes this goal. Because I am an outsider to the industry, I have yet to be taken seriously. I say it in my blog, I say it in my posts, I say it every day in business, those who think outside the box are often trapped outside a box.

    I have also created and patented EquestRadio, the worlds simplest and potentially powerful online radio promotions platform.

    I am also the owner of a company called US Home Watchers, a company that could be worth $230 million in 5-7 years, according to some major brokers.

    Mark, I am asking for your help! I will give you 30% share hold in US Home Watchers. All I ask for is one opportunity to pitch you.

    Jerry R. Reynolds
    US Home Watchers –
    Alimoe Blog –

    Comment by Jerry R. Reynolds -

  77. What programming should be exclusive to HDTV viewers and not shown on regular TV?

    None. Everything everywhere of course.

    But, HD does tend towards wealthy consumers and early adopters. I\’ve never understood why there isn\’t an effort to play to the audience you\’ve got. Put the most expensive meat in the window they\’ll buy.

    I\’d LOVE an hour long daily program that sold the most exteme bleeding high tech gadgets… and promised any new CE company time for their guy or gal to come hawk the product – REQUIRING the first say 1000 units get sold first on your channel\’s show.

    Morgan\’s Techno Orgy has a nice ring to it.

    Be Safe.

    Comment by Morgan Warstler -

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