Advanced Television

Phoenix Model Market expands Next-Gen Test Bed

April 5, 2019

A collaborative effort in Phoenix, Arizona that involves a dozen broadcast stations will soon expand beyond a single Next-Gen TV transmission tower to include an additional station with a signal that will be enhanced through the use of a Single Frequency Network (SFN).

As part of the Phoenix Model Market project, and with planning and design consultation from the National Association of Broadcasters, this this second station for Next-Gen TV will shortly be going on-the-air to help broadcasters evaluate the benefits of SFN transmissions.

The Phoenix Model Market’s first Next-Gen TV station is owned by Univision Communications and has been on-the-air for the past year carrying six separate Next-Gen TV broadcast streams through a partnership that includes Pearl TV member stations, NBC Universal, Fox Television Stations, and Univision. Many of the features and capabilities of the ATSC 3.0 standard are being tested through the initial transmitter. The addition of a Single Frequency Network-enabled station will now give the market multiple testing facilities and open the door for additional testing.

Single Frequency Network transmissions allow broadcasters to improve signal power and reach while offering signals that can be easily viewed in a moving vehicle or made more robust for reception inside buildings. A Single Frequency Network uses multiple transmitters throughout the market to improve signal levels as well as to fill in areas in the Phoenix market that have been hard to reach with an over-the-air signal in the past. This advanced technology is enabled in the new ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standard now being tested in Phoenix.

“The SFN tower site and antenna work is being provided by American Tower, and ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are planned to begin soon with Comark and GatesAir Single Frequency Network transmitters that will allow us to test drive the full capabilities of Next-Gen TV to see how equipment operates in a real-world environment,” said Anne Schelle, Managing Director of Pearl TV. Pearl other Phoenix Model Market broadcasters will build out the new SFN system.

Separately it was revealed that five audience measurement firms – comScore, Kantar Media, Nielsen, Verance, and Yotta Media Labs – are working together to help Phoenix broadcasters understand the capabilities of Next-Gen TV, providing more accurate and timely information that will someday help viewers tailor the programming they want to watch and enable broadcasters and advertisers to reach viewers with messages that will interest them.

The new ATSC 3.0 service permits broadcast TV audience measurement to advance to a new era of more granular and more actionable insights because it enables many measurement options. Current measurement tools will continue to be valuable, and ATSC 3.0 can allow even more information for broadcasters and advertisers (not unlike the visibility offered to advertisers on today’s web pages and apps). Because these new tools are being developed from the ground up, participants in this project will be able to deploy best practices in privacy by design in crafting an approach that will ensure that the privacy expectations of consumers will be met.

“We’ve had a very busy year in Phoenix, launching with one ATSC 3.0 signal on a Univision transmitter and gradually adding test streams from additional broadcasters. We’re testing what viewers will someday see – from the transmitter to the receiver. Initial consumer response in laboratory testing is very positive, and we’re trying various audience measurement methods to see what will work in a real-world environment,” explained Schelle.

“Our efforts in Phoenix provide an open test bed and a proving ground for technology, implementations, and new services,” advised Schelle. “We’ve been working alongside some of the brightest minds in audience measurement, encouraging all to take the capabilities of Next-Gen TV for a test drive to see how this new technology can help broadcasters, viewers, and advertisers.”



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