TV's Answer Man
Why Does My TV's Picture Quality Keep Changing?
Washington, D.C. (January 17, 2013) --
Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your
questions regarding how to best use the latest products and
services in TV technology.
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Q. I have DIRECTV
and sometimes it seems like the picture on HBO and some of the
other channels is better than at other times. Is this true or am
I seeing things? -- Bonnie, Viera, Florida.
Bonnie, you are not seeing things. DIRECTV and other TV providers will
sometimes raise or lower the bitrate it uses to transmit a
channel's signal. In laymen's terms, that means the TV provider
will lower or raise the strength of the signal.
Why would it do this?
Lowering the signal strength can allow the TV provider to
include more data, or channels, into a satellite space or cable
spectrum. For instance, if DIRECTV decides to offer
multiple-channel coverage of the NFL Sunday Ticket or another
one-day sporting event, it might lower the bitrate for some
other channels to create room for the extra channels. Then, when
the sporting event is over, DIRECTV will likely raise the
channels' bitrate back to its normal level.
This is why you might notice that the HD picture on one channel
looks better on some days compared to others.
This practice is so often used that channels will sometimes
require a TV provider to transmit their signals at a minimum
bitrate. The channels realize that a lower bitrate will diminish
their picture quality and hurt their reputation with viewers.