Advanced Television

US broadcast majors commit to ATSC 3.0

October 18, 2018

By Colin Mann

At the 2018 NAB Show New York, executives from FOX Television Stations; NBC and Telemundo Owned Stations Group; Univision; TEGNA (for Pearl TV), and Nexstar Media Group (for SpectrumCo) announced their collaborative effort and support for the introduction of next-generation broadcast TV standard ATSC 3.0, designed to enhance greatly over-the-air services for viewers while bringing together broadcast and broadband functionality to give audiences more content and choice.

This new standard is expected to be broadly launched by individual broadcasters beginning in 2020, concurrent with the anticipated introduction of consumer TV products equipped to receive ATSC 3.0. The announcement follows the initial success of the Phoenix Model Market pilot project that currently includes English and Spanish-language television stations in Phoenix, the nation’s 11th largest television market.

Participating broadcast groups represent an industry-wide effort for ATSC 3.0 deployment. The parties will continue to work collaboratively to determine how broadcasters can offer both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0, and also significantly expand the availability and footprint of next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV technology for audiences.

This new effort is not exclusive and will include other broadcasters with interests in next-gen TV services, including both other commercial and public TV broadcasters.

According to the group, the expanded launch of ATSC 3.0 provides ground-breaking opportunities for TV broadcasters interested in offering new features and serving new markets. Deployment of ATSC 3.0 will provide information and entertainment to ATSC 3.0-equipped television receivers, to automobiles, and to other digital and mobile consumer devices.

“One big challenge was whether the big owners of valuable spectrum could work together, commit resources, and stick to the game plan. Done, done and done,” said Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer at FOX Television Stations.

“ATSC 3.0 is something that as an industry we have to do,” said Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. “The new standard will transform the way we deliver content to our audiences – including viewers who are consuming information in multiple languages and screens. ATSC 3.0 will also help us to better connect advertisers with the audiences they want to reach on any platform. We are pleased to be working with Pearl TV and our broadcast partners to ensure the new technology is set in place for both viewers and broadcasters when we are ready to roll-out the new standard.”

“Univision is excited to continue playing a leadership role in the market transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0,” declared Vince Sadusky, Chief Executive Officer at Univision. “As one of the largest TV spectrum holders in the US, we are eager to bring an enhanced audio and video experience to our audience, as well as new services and capabilities to our advertising partners.”

“Pearl TV’s 300 local broadcasters, along with our network partners, are working together to deliver a national Next-Gen TV service by the end of 2020,” added Dave Lougee, President and CEO of TEGNA, Inc., one of the Pearl TV broadcast group members. “ATSC 3.0 offers new ways for local broadcasters to tell stories, interact with viewers, make an impact in our communities and innovate across screens and devices. The new standard will allow for clear, ultra HD signals, personalized advertising and the potential for exciting new adjacencies such as smart city infrastructure and connected vehicles”

“SpectrumCo and Pearl TV consortium members are aligned in our commitment to the voluntary scaled adoption of the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard across the US,” confirmed Perry Sook, President & CEO of Nexstar Media Group, representing SpectrumCo. “Advancing the ATSC 3.0 standard is critical to facilitating future innovation in the local broadcast television industry. With more than 350 SpectrumCo stations participating and additional new members in the pipeline, SpectrumCo broadcasters will add immense scale and depth to the collaborative industry wide rollout of ATSC 3.0. With this new technology broadcasters will be able to bring consumers more localized programming content and a host of other innovative NextGen TV services, while creating new revenue opportunities for our respective businesses in growing areas of the digital economy.”

The Phoenix Model Market pilot project launched nearly one year ago and the pilot project has offered testing for broadcast equipment implementation, new services, and technology offerings to show how the ATSC 3.0 standard could be deployed by broadcasters while maintaining existing digital service for viewers. The Phoenix DMA is home to more than 1.8 million households with more than one in five viewers relying on over-the-air reception. Participating TV groups and stations in the Phoenix Model Market include: Arizona State University’s Arizona PBS (KAET) , Arizona Television’s KAZT Channel 7 (Independent), E.W. Scripps’ KNXV (ABC), Fox Television Stations’ KSAZ (Fox) and KUTP (MyTV), Meredith’s KPHO (CBS) and KTVK (Independent), Nexstar Media Group’s KASW (CW); Telemundo Station Group’s KTAZ (Telemundo), TEGNA’s KPNX (NBC), and Univision’s KFPH-CD (UniMas) and KTVW (Univision).

Pearl TV’s initial activities in Phoenix provide an open test bed and a proving ground for technology, implementations, and new services. A September 2018 consumer survey conducted by Magid for Pearl TV and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows exceptionally strong consumer interest in a next-gen TV service that will offer all the programming of live over-the-air TV (such as local news, live sports, programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and other broadcast networks) and adds improved features that can enhance the viewing experience for consumers.

In the Phoenix Model Market partners /CTA survey of more than 1,500 US consumers ages 18-74, Magid registered “solid overall interest in and high likelihood to use” the next-gen ATSC 3.0 concept which has the capability to bring together broadcast TV with broadband content. The research also shows that the next-gen TV concept is most appealing with younger consumers and those who are defined as ‘Early Adopters”’ because of their positive attitude toward technology.

Magid’s research shows 42 per cent of those interested in ATSC 3.0 say they anticipate buying a new TV to enable and enjoy next-gen TV services. Overwhelmingly, 96 per cent of the Core Target (those who rated the concept Very Appealing and Very Likely to use next-gen TV) said they were likely to buy a new TV set to experience next-gen TV.

“We see this major development jump starting the nationwide rollout of Next Gen TV,” said Dr. Jong Kim, senior vice president in the office of the CTO at LG Electronics, which co-developed ATSC 3.0, the new TV standard that marries broadcast and broadband for the first time. “LG looks forward to working with these and other broadcasters and stakeholders in the Next Gen TV ecosystem to help bring the benefits of ATSC 3.0 to American consumers,” said  Kim, who also serves as president of Zenith Electronics, LG’s US R&D subsidiary contributing to Next Gen TV standards.

Building on its support of the landmark Phoenix Model Market pilot project, LG plans to provide receiver technology and expertise to support various markets from coast to coast launching Next Gen TV, Dr. Kim explained.

LG already has launched 4K Ultra HD TVs with ATSC 3.0 receiver chips in South Korea. In the United States, broad deployment of ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in the coming years will set the stage for the introduction of ATSC 3.0 receivers for American consumers.


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