1080i vs 720p For Broadcast?

Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 day 11 hours ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

This has probably been asked numerous times over the years, but I was wondering what others in the video business prefer when they go to watch TV in terms of resolution? Do you find there is a difference between broadcast 720p or 1080i?

I was just watching a little bit of the Ottawa Senators/Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Game 1 on my cable box over HDMI to a 40 inch Philips, and I was getting a couple of feeds for it. 2 were the 480i feeds of CBC Ottawa and NBC WDIV Detroit, while the other 2 were CBC Toronto in 720p and NBC WDIV Detroit in 1080i. Now then I'm going to assume that all 4 stations are getting their feeds from the same camera's in Pittsburgh, as on CBC Toronto I don't see any signs of aliasing which I have seen on other programming on the channel that has come from a 1080i source and is converted to progressive. So the camera's are either shooting at 1080p or 4k, but the feeds are being converted to 720p and 1080i, and CBC seems to be picking different camera's than NBC, since CBC seems to be more interested in the Senators, while NBC is more interested in the Penguins; but on both channels I'll see shots from the exact same camera's, especially when it comes to when the players are actually moving up and down the ice.

Anyway, while the 480i feeds seem to be of the same quality, when it comes to the HD feeds, I'm finding that the CBC feed looks like an upconverted DVD-quality feed. The way the colors are and the sharpness of the image is reminds me of how newer HD shows look on DVD when upconverted to HD. Compared to NBC, the colors look muted.

So which do you prefer for broadcast? 720p or 1080i.


tommybadger's picture
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 09/04/2012 - 2:23pm

That's another one of those questions that can't be answered because we don't know the skill of the engineers handling the broadcast, the equipment they're using, or the distance from the transmitting tower to your home antenna.
I live in a fairly flat region with equidistant transmission towers and to me the quality is all over the map—what really seems to make a difference is the sport. The sports with the most expensive advertising get the best treatment. Golf is like looking through an open window, followed by football and baseball which is like watching through a clean window, then everything else. NBC also does a really nice job when they're transmitting the Olympics.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 1 day 22 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

The BBC in the UK still do their regional broadcasting on SD, and nobody ever notices. SD from proper cameras, lenses and transmission chains looks pretty good. I still do some of my production in 720, because it matches with 1080 and SD really well, yet from decent cameras is solid and has proper image depth.