TV signals that are supported by Windows Media Center


With Windows Media Center, you can watch and record live TV on your computer. For more information, see Watch TV in Windows Media Center and Record TV in Windows Media Center.

The TV signals and programming that you can watch and record depend on the following:

  • The type of TV tuner (or TV tuners) that are connected to or installed in your computer. A TV tuner is required to watch and record TV in Media Center. For more information, see What should I know before adding TV tuners to use with Windows Media Center?

  • The type of signal that you have connected to your TV tuner. For more information see TV on your computer: Understanding TV signals and TV tuners.

  • The type of signals that you can receive at your location.

  • The country or region in which you live and the broadcasting standard that is used.

  • The type of TV programming that you subscribe to from your cable or satellite provider.

  • Your TV cable or satellite provider.

  • The system resources available on your computer. This includes system resources, such as processor speed, memory, and video card capabilities, as well as available card slots and USB ports.

Media Center supports a number of analog and digital TV signals. Examples of analog TV signals include NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. Analog TV signals are usually received through a cable TV feed, while digital TV signals such as ATSC, ISDB-T, DVB-T, and DVB-S are received through a digital cable feed, over the air using an antenna, or by way of satellite. The different types of digital TV signals include:

  • ATSC. Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is a common digital signal type used in the United States. (It is also widely used in Canada, Mexico, and Korea.) ATSC is intended to be viewed in the widescreen (16:9) format, with a resolution up to 1920 × 1080 pixels.

  • NTSC. National Television System Committee (NTSC) is a signal type that was phased out in the United States as part of the digital TV transition of 2009. If your TV tuner is only compatible with the NTSC signal type, you might still be able to receive a TV signal depending on your region and service provider, but you won't be able to receive a TV signal from an over-the-air antenna.

  • QAM. Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) is the digital cable standard in the United States. There are two types of QAM signals: unencrypted QAM (sometimes called ClearQAM), and encrypted QAM, Most QAM-compatible TV tuners only work with unencrypted channels. Premium cable content is usually encrypted, and requires the use of a Digital Cable Tuner from your cable provider.

  • ISDB. Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) is the digital TV and digital audio broadcasting format that Japan has created to allow radio and TV stations there to convert to digital format.

  • DVB-T. Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVB-T) is the DVB European consortium standard for the broadcast transmission of digital terrestrial TV. DVB-T is a widely adopted digital format and is supported in all locales. (A DVB-T TV tuner is required for use.) For more information about DVB-T, go to the DVB website.

    If you live in Europe and have an antenna that supports DVB-T channels, Media Center might have identified channels that you don't receive during the TV signal setup process. If that occurs, you can remove the channels that you don't receive from the Guide. To learn how to do this, see Use the Guide in Windows Media Center.

  • DVB-S. Digital Video Broadcasting Satellite (DVB-S) is the digital TV broadcasting method that is transmitted by satellite in Europe and other parts of the world. Whether the digital signal is free-to-air or fee-based, Media Center requires a set-top box to support this broadcasting standard. The DVB-S satellite transmission protocol was created by the Digital Video Broadcasting Project, an industry organization that develops technologies for digital TV.

    Satellite TV is a TV system in which the signal is transmitted to an orbiting satellite that receives the signal, amplifies it, and then transmits it back to earth. Satellite TV signals are a digital format, although most of the standard televisions in the United States have analog format. To enable playback on an analog TV signal, the satellite TV receiver converts the digital signal into an analog format that a standard television can recognize and play back. There are two digital signal types for satellite TV:

    • Free-to-air. DVB-S is the primary signal type for free-to-air satellite TV. This type of program content is available around the world and is popular in Europe.

    • Fee-based. The majority of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV signals are encrypted, and therefore can only be viewed through a paid subscription. Subscribers receive set-top boxes from their TV providers; the set-top boxes decrypt the signals for encrypted programs. Windows Media Center supports DTH satellite content through the TV provider's set-top box.

Article ID: MSW700019



Need more help?