Difference between RealChannels and Virtual Channels
When we changed from the analog TV to Digital TV, we also ended with something called as the virtual TV channel There is a common question that arises in the minds of the consumers when they hear the term virtual channel and real channel. What do both these term exactly mean? The real channels are basically those channels which the TV stations were using to transmit on. Before the time when HDTV came into picture, the channel number would tell us exactly what frequencies the TV stations have been using. This us all of us so use to those channel numbers wherein even the broadcasters or the FCC thought that if they made any changes in this channel number would lead to a bigger confusion. Hence if a Fox channel 7 got changed to Fox Channel 20 then it would lead to confusion for the viewers because they are used to watching Channel number 7. This led to the onset of Virtual Channels.
Since the digital signal would be able to carry more than one program at a single time, we also got the additional advantage of more number of channels for each channel that was programmed. This led to the start of decimal in the channel number for example Channel 7.2. Using dash or a decimal was basically for designating a virtual channel with the main basic channel. The main characteristic of the virtual number can be described as two fold. The first being designating the main channel number which we all remember before the HDTV. The second one of using the dash or decimal was to designate a different programme that one can watch within the same channel.
The reason why real and virtual channels were designated in such manner was to keep things familiar for its users. They did not want their viewers to forcibly learn the new numbers for viewing their favourite channels. Hence it was decided to keep the same channels familiar to all of us. This would mean that the TV stations had to change the channels to which they used to transmit their signals on but at the same time the stations would keep calling themselves with their old number itself.
To make things simple, the real channel is that channel which the TV station or the broadcaster would use for broadcasting their signal. The phasing out of analog broadcasting had led to conversion into digital signals or broadcasting. But at the same time it was necessary for the TV stations to carry on with broadcasting their analog signals to the originally mentioned real channels. At the same time, it was also important to broadcast the analog signals on a different channel number that is somewhere linked with the real channel number.
Before you go for selection of a TV antenna, it is very important to understand the actual difference between real broadcasted channel and the virtual channel. The reason for the same is because, the antennas are mostly designed for receiving specific range of the real channels.