Next-Gen TV Standard Debuts

Sam Matheny, CTO of the National Association of Broadcasters, sounded genuinely excited when he and representatives from the Consumer Technology Association and Advanced Television Systems Committee unveiled the ATSC 3.0 Consumer Experience at NAB Show.

“This is a great day,” he said. “It builds off all the work … of the last several years.”

More than five years, to be exact, according to Mark Richer, president of ATSC. That’s how long “thousands of engineers” have been at work fine tuning the world’s first IP-based broadcast system. At NAB Show, the results of that work were shared.

“Quite simply, it’s the future of broadcasting,” Richer said. Over-theair delivery of everything from targeted advertising to Ultra HD/4K video with high dynamic range (HDR) in the cards if ATSC 3.0 plays out the way he hopes. Already the CTA, NAB, Advanced Warning and Response Network Alliance and America’s Public Television Stations have petitioned the FCC for approval of the core transmission technology of ATSC 3.0.

“[ATSC 3.0] will see new products and ways for consumers to get services in the home,” said Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards for CTA.

The ATSC 3.0 Consumer Experience is giving NAB Show attendees a broader look at the in-home benefits of the standard, including next-generation audio delivery, advanced emergency warning services, and targeted advertising. A live video from a studio on the Las Vegas Convention Center floor — showing two women chatting next to a rotating bowl of bright, artificial fruit — was being broadcast live to the Consumer Experience using ATSC 3.0 technology for the first time in the U.S.

“In addition to spectacular 4K video with HDR, the new standard offers immersive audio — immediate benefits that a growing audience of Ultra HDTV owners can appreciate,” said Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV, a group of more than 200 local broadcasters that backs the Next-Gen television standard. “But bigger, better pictures and sound are just the beginning, because the new standard is IP-based, just like the Internet.

“Now local stations will be able to offer new services like VOD and targeted advertising to reach specific types of viewers.”

Pearl TV and Samsung Electronics partnered to show advanced, targeted advertising for the home, delivery of non-real-time data using ATSC 3.0, and the use of gateway receivers and Wi-Fi transmitters to deliver television content to IP devices using the standard.

“This next-generation TV standard opens the doors for VOD functionality, delivered by broadcasters, so that viewers will have even more choices and flexibility when watching TV,” said John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy for Samsung Electronics America. At NAB Show, he said, “we are thrilled to showcase a potential vision for the future where shows can be downloaded overnight and stored locally, giving viewers an enormous amount of content immediately available on their television.”

LG Electronics also used the show to unveil a new wireless network antenna that can receive and process next-gen broadcast signals and redistribute them via Wi-Fi.

“In addition to showing how such consumer-friendly products will support the rollout of next-gen broadcasting, this device, built around the world’s first ATSC 3.0 demodulator chip, exemplifies our progress,” said Dr. Jong Kim, senior vice president for LG Electronics and president of LG’s Zenith R&D lab in the United States.

LG also announced a partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group to conduct the first ATSC 3.0-enabled emergency alert broadcast. The technology — dubbed AWARN — will beef up the disaster alert information consumers will be able to receive, by waking up devices and delivering rich data like evacuation routes via HTML data over-the-air. The first broadcast of the technology was transmitted by Sinclair from Las Vegas’ Black Mountain on Channel 45, and received at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“The first AWARN broadcast is timely as the FCC considers adoption of the next-generation broadcast standard,” said Mark Aitken, Sinclair’s vice president for advanced technology. “Sinclair views advanced emergency alerting as one of the major enhancements enabled by next-gen TV. Combining robust transmission, single-frequency networks and rich media alerts will mean reaching millions of Americans simultaneously during emergencies, regardless of device.”