In what has been described as “a defining moment” for the future of television in the US, a local TV station in Cleveland is ushering in the era of Next Gen TV broadcasting with the first live ATSC 3.0 broadcast of a major professional sporting event – Major League Baseball’s World Series.
Using the newly-standardised transmission system for the ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV standard, the experimental station is simulcasting network and local programming from local Fox affiliate WJW-TV as the American League’s Cleveland Indians host the National League’s Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field in the World Series.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) received an FCC experimental licence to operate a full-power Channel 31 transmitter in Cleveland as a living laboratory for broadcasters and manufacturers creating the Next Gen TV service. The ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are using the transmitter and broadcast facilities of WJW, the Tribune Media-owned Fox affiliate in Cleveland.
In addition to the support of Tribune Media, Fox and the NAB, the ATSC 3.0 World Series broadcasts are made possible by technical contributions of GatesAir (ATSC 3.0 exciter for over-the-air transmission), LG Electronics (ATSC 3.0 receivers and antennas), Harmonic (real-time encoders for HEVC video and Dolby AC4 audio) and Triveni Digital (signalling/announcement metadata, IP stream generation, ATSC 3.0 analyser, and system integration support).
Richard Friedel, 2016 chairman of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the standards development organisation developing and documenting ATSC 3.0, spearheaded the project. “This is a defining moment for the future of television. Together with Tribune Media, the NAB and our technology partners, we are showing the FCC and our fellow broadcasters that Next Gen TV is a grand slam home run,” said Friedel, executive vice president and general manager for Fox Networks Engineering and Operations.
Tribune Broadcasting’s Director of Engineering Operations Bill VanDuynhoven echoed Friedel’s remarks: “With this test station we’re swinging for the fences, putting the new transmission standard through its paces to demonstrate that ATSC 3.0 technologies are real and can deliver meaningful benefits to broadcasters and viewers alike.”
Sam Matheny, NAB executive vice president and chief technology officer, called the new Cleveland Next Gen TV test station a platform for demonstrating the Big League capabilities of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards. “ATSC 3.0 standards are nearing completion, and over the coming months in conjunction with partners, we expect to test real-world Next Gen TV applications like UHD TV, interactive services, targeted advertising, advanced emergency alerting, and more,” he added.
Field trials of the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer standard using the Cleveland station – conducted this summer by broadcast equipment maker GatesAir and digital TV pioneers LG Electronics and its US R&D subsidiary, Zenith – generated tens of thousands of data points showing how Next Gen TV with ATSC 3.0 can deliver 4K Ultra HD content, excellent robust mobile reception, deep indoor reception by fixed receivers and unparalleled spectrum efficiency.