The days of relying on component video distribution systems to handle high-definition are truly numbered. The AACS (Advanced Access Content System), the licensing authority that defines the content protection scheme for Blu-ray, has established December 31st, 2010 as the beginning of the “Analog Sunset”. The AACS Analog Sunset ensures that all new Blu-ray content is transmitted via HDMI with HDCP content protection between sources and displays.

When 2011 begins, all new, licensed Blu-ray players must limit analog video outputs. All unprotected AACS content will be down-converted to the 480i resolution of standard definition. On the last day of 2013, analog outputs will be banned on Blu-ray players. Furthermore, each Blu-ray disc will have a built-in Image Constraint Token (ICT) that will disable all disc players from transmitting HD over component. Legacy players using the component output will be restricted to standard definition playback only.

The Analog Sunset is just part of an avalanche of change that is already happening.

In April 2008, Sky (the UK satellite TV provider) abruptly dropped the component outputs off the back of all their HD Sky Satellite receivers. In May of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) loosened regulations and began allowing Hollywood studios to block the output of analog video signals on cable and satellite set-top boxes for new movie releases. As a result, those who own TVs with a single HDMI output and use it to connect their Blu-ray will have to unplug the player to watch a new VOD movie.

This latest FCC ruling further empowers the Hollywood community. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been trying to “plug the analog hole” for years. To prevent piracy, HDMI with HDCP content protection is the widely accepted industry standard, blocking any high-definition digital movie signal from traveling over unprotected analog outputs.

Crestron anticipated the transition from analog to digital six years ago, dedicating 43 engineers and investing millions of dollars to discover and resolve the hidden pitfalls. The result was DigitalMedia™ (DM), a complete source-to-display ecosystem for the transition period and beyond.

The native characteristics of digital are very different from analog, making cable runs and integration a greater challenge. As digital becomes more prevalent, so will intermittent glitches and system failures due to HDCP, EDID and CEC data embedded in HDMI signals. For easier installation and reliable performance:

1.Use an analog/digital full matrix switcher, rather than a modular, partitioned switcher;
2.Run an HDCP diagnostic test before programming to confirm the number of keys each source can accept, and make sure that all sources are actually playing content (not just powered “on”) when running the HDCP check;
3.Whenever possible, run a data rate check before closing walls, to be sure that all cable runs can support source resolution and data rates. It’s easier to fix or replace cables or connectors before the walls are closed;
4.Use 8GB HD-certified shielded twisted pair wire or multimode fiber;
5.Have a digital media certified engineer onsite during installation.
Additionally, Crestron developed the HD-DTDS specification to provide definitive guidelines that guarantee successful implementation of digital systems. A DM Certification program is offered to ensure that AV professionals are fully educated and adhere to the HD-DTDS standard, giving clients the confidence that our industry can deliver reliable digital solutions. For more tips or other information go to or contact your local Crestron sales representative.