Show of hands: Who can’t wait for college football to start? Ah yes…Okay, good.
Now, who has a NextGen TV and can watch games in 4K, uncompressed 4:4:4 color with HLG, plus Dolby AC-4 Atmos or DTS:X immersive sound? (This would be where I would insert the icon for PUZZLED, indicating a rapid disappearance of those hands).
While displays sold thus far with an ATSC 3.0 onboard tuner only number about 5 million units, Next-Gen TV is taking off in a big way and this fall may perhaps signify the long-awaited turning point.
Many in our industry feel we’ve been hearing about 4K broadcasting for so long, it seems like the idea originated before Tom Brady won his first Superbowl. During CES each year for nearly this past decade, talk abounded NextGen TV was around the next corner. Realistically, the system genuinely was conceived, designed and implemented in a compacted timeframe, compared to the primordial pace of previous broadcast television upgrades.
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) issued a call for proposals outlining a new standard to supersede ATSC 1.0, the current HDTV Over The Air (OTA) broadcast standard on April 4th, 2013. On November 16th, 2017, the FCC adopted the rules outlining ATSC 3.0, allowing broadcasters to use the Next Generation Broadcast Standard on a voluntary, market-driven basis. In the announcement, the FCC anticipated broadcasters would provide consumers “with more vivid pictures and sound, including Ultra High Definition television and superior reception, mobile viewing capabilities, advanced emergency alerts, better accessibility features, localized content, and interactive educational children’s content”.
This summer, currently 68 markets encompassing nearly 50% of US homes have access to ATSC 3.0 OTA transmission. 54 designated market areas have at least one full-power station providing ATSC 3.0 services, with coverage projected to expand to 80% of US homes by the end of 2022. Many medium markets have leap-frogged ahead of the largest media centers.
Manufacturers LG, Sony, Samsung and now Hisense market ATSC 3.0-enabled sets, typically medium-featured through top-tier models, most of which fall into the wheel house for the majority of televisions buying group-affiliated integrators specify and install. How many of your customers are aware they may already own a television capable of ATSC 3.0 reception? Do their system capabilities allow ATSC 3.0 use? Is the ATSC 3.0 tuner an accessible option from the iPad-based system remote you’ve provided them with? Was the audio system designed to monitor sound output directly from the TV?
Often I hear one of our superb AVPro Tech Support team members gathering problem-solving information. As expected, a vast number of systems are traditionally designed with a centrally located automation / distribution system hosting a mixture of Apple TV, Roku, DirecTV/Dish and cable box source devices. While most if not all are capable of delivering 4K HDR serial and dramatic content, live events are overwhelmingly 720p / 1080i stereo pass-thru broadcasts, depending on provider (everybody say ‘HULU’).
Integrators should consider incorporating ATSC 3.0 playback into systems you presently have in your D-Tools/Portal.io design queues and when upgrading clients to new displays, almost assuredly with ATSC 3.0 tuners, make control system and audio playback provisions for ATSC 3.0 tuner content. Forecasts for 2023 call for as many as 10,000 ATSC 3.0 enabled sets sold each day. Be in the best position to deliver sports and live action programming to your clients with all the advantages UHD 4K offers and take note that an antenna is required for OTA acquisition. ATSC 3.0 has engineered out many of the reception issues that plagued early ATSC 1.0 adopters, using a different method than ATSC 1.0’s 8-Vestigal Side Band (8-VSB) transmission scheme. OTA signals are designed to be easily received in areas previously found difficult with OTA HDTV. During pre-wiring, it might be to your advantage to run a coaxial cable into an attic or accessible space for an ATSC 3.0 antenna, though most sets will suffice with an easily concealed indoor antenna similar to that for an FM audio tuner. You’re clever integrators! You can find the perfect spot. And look to many of the tools AVPro Edge has, such as HDMI switching devices and Bullet Train AOC cables, for HDMI 2.1a eARC.
Other capabilities with ATSC 3.0 implementation are data streaming of interactive content, relative to the program or live broadcast (think of sports statics), and more effective public alerting during emergencies, particularly dangerous weather situations. The standard has a feature to “wake up” enabled sleeping devices when warnings are prevalent.
AVPro Southern command is within (an eagle’s) eyesight of the ATSC 3.0 Tampa stations, an across-the-bay view from our offices. Nebraska takes on Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland on August 27th at 12:30 p.m. ET on Fox. I’ll be ready with a new calibrated ATSC 3.0 OLED.