ATSC 3.0 is expected to be one of the big topics at the NAB Show in Las Vegas April 22-27. After all, the next-gen broadcast transmission standard provides a wide range of benefits and opportunities for broadcasters, as well as many of the companies that provide content and services to them, enabling over-the-air delivery of everything from immersive audio to 4K video to targeted advertising.
Now that the FCC has recently approved voluntary adoption of ATSC 3.0, we’ve asked members of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) to give their takes on the FCC’s move, as well as the standard in general, and also provide their plans to take advantage of ATSC 3.0’s many benefits.
Mike Chapman, managing director, Accenture Strategy and global lead-Media & Entertainment Strategy:
“I think there’s a lot of significance in the FCC’s recent decision around ATSC 3.0. I think, for one, finally adopting and approving the foundational standard allows broadcasters to begin formalizing plans to actually deploy the next-generation capabilities based on their individual strategies. We know that this is not a mandate and we see signals in the marketplace that broadcasters are taking various approaches as to how they plan to deploy next-generation capabilities using ATSC 3.0. But the green light from the FCC finally gives the broadcast industry the ability to actually move forward on this next-generation capability. So, I think it’s great to see the FCC finally make progress on this. I do think that some broadcasters are still trying to figure out their strategies and, in some cases the business case, around ATSC 3.0 individually for their station groups. But I think, in the end, the consumer will win. As broadcasters choose to actually adopt the standard and progress the television experience for their viewers, the consumer will benefit from this ultimately.
“Accenture has been following ATSC 3.0 and the broadcasting industry in general and we see several market opportunities as broadcasters move in some cases into uncharted territory as it relates to this new standard. There are sets of new capabilities and services that broadcasters will be rolling out and in a number of areas they will need help with that rollout or to enable those capabilities. That is where a firm like Accenture, with our expertise and scale, can help accelerate the deployment of the standard, and so we are carefully studying what we should be offering to our clients in that regard. We plan to continue having discussions with clients around the relevance of ATSC 3.0 and our perspectives on how they can advance their businesses using this new standard.”
Alec Stichbury, SVP and CTO, broadcast platforms:
“From Deluxe’s perspective there are really two big areas where ATSC 3.0 can change the game.
First, it provides a convergence point between traditional linear television broadcast and non-linear distribution. ATSC 3.0 enables interactive commentary and augmented wrappers around event-based television, whether that’s live news, sports, live entertainment shows, live eSports, or music events. ATSC 3.0 creates the ability to have cohesive and immersive commentary, data, social and other interactive experiences in the same viewing space. This also enables viewers to interact with advertisers in new ways. For example, viewers could buy sponsored goods or services, or subscribe to a social feed, creating new opportunities to connect advertisers and viewers. The ability to have a seamless experience when jumping between devices and being able to personalize your environment will be valuable as the wider benefits of ATSC 3.0 adoption mature.
Also, specifically in the U.S., ATSC 3.0 enables broadcast stations to have multiple channels within their licensed spectrum allocation that are also enabled in the TV Everywhere model, and defines a roadmap that includes UHD and HDR, making that content available to free over-the-air consumers as well as to those subscribing to paid services. Local broadcasts will now have efficient ways to broadcast hyper local programming or even occasional use channels for local event broadcasts.
The second point is really around the broadcast feedback loop. For too long broadcasters have had a send-and-forget relationship with their customers, like a postal service, with few mediums such as BARB and Nielsen providing data. Even then, they are panel-based; often not providing a large enough sample to really know for what and how viewers are tuning in. Macro views can never provide detail around the emotional commitment that is changed through, for example, a news story, drama storyline, sporting moment or song. The attachment between viewer and broadcaster, up to now, has been almost impossible to quantify let alone harness to drive production strategies or marketing/advertising campaigns. ATSC 3.0 enables advertisers to deliver hyper local ads delivering unique messages to viewers in different parts of a metropolitan area, overall, helping to connect both broadcasters and advertisers more intimately to viewers.
ATSC 3.0 has the ability to strike a chord with viewers, at a time when we all fear that viewers are actually cutting the cord. Broadcasting is a beautiful medium for connecting billions of people on a global scale and with ATSC 3.0 this massive interactive reach layered with data will drive a new form of intimacy and personalization that has always been craved but never been possible.
Deluxe has built the tools and workflows needed to seamlessly and efficiently enable the required content transformation, including metadata enhancement, required for this new format. Additionally, our syndicated broadcast NOC and IP playout capability provide opportunities for local broadcasters to quickly experiment in this space without massive capital commitments for infrastructure. We are thrilled to see ATSC 3.0 come to fruition and look forward to working with local broadcasters to help them enable this new capability.”
Jeff Riedmiller, VP, Sound Group, office of the CTO:
“Dolby is a long-standing member of the ATSC and is committed to continue serving the needs of its members, our partners and the industry with ATSC 3.0 deployment.
The ATSC 3.0 platform will provide broadcasters with several new tools to take the consumer experience to a completely new level. For audio, we are excited about what Dolby AC-4 can bring to live broadcast experiences like the Super Bowl or The Grammy Awards in Dolby Atmos – not only in the living room, but on mobile devices as well. Dolby AC-4 also provides broadcasters with state-of-the-art compression efficiency, native dialogue enhancement, personalization features (for efficient language replacement and video description) and scalable loudness and dynamic range control, all of which are designed to better serve the wide range of applications and devices found across the consumer landscape today.”
Kevin Speedy, communications director:
“As the consumer exodus from cable and satellite TV continues, the industry has seen a sort of renaissance of the antenna and over-the-air TV. ATSC 3.0 presents a whole new level of opportunity for consumers who forego cable TV. This will make it easier and more attractive than ever to cut the cord, and we believe many of the networks that we currently think of as cable channels will have to take a serious look at over-the-air distribution.
This is exciting for FreeCast as well. We’re already talking with DTV America, the largest broadcast distributor in the nation, about blending OTT and OTA utilizing their infrastructure footprint and our SmartGuide to deliver a powerful and low-cost hybrid experience. With the potential for broadband to be served over the air along with a TV signal, that would be a compelling combination that could very quickly be scaled nation-wide.
For now, in the short term, it’s just a matter of waiting for device makers and broadcasters to implement the new standard.”
Alan Stein, VP of technology development and standards:
“It’s obviously great news for broadcast industry. ATSC 3.0 features HEVC video compression and unprecedented flexibility in physical layer transmission options. This means that different broadcasters can tailor the transmission characteristics to suit their business model. To be specific, some broadcasters are interested in high-reliability mobile delivery, others Ultra HD or HD+HDR, others a ‘skinny bundle’ of many HD streams multiplexed in a single 6MHz TV channel. All these scenarios are realizable with ATSC 3.0.
Additionally, ATSC 3.0 includes the ability to offer non-realtime ‘push’ services, conceptually similar to a CDN, and immediately scalable to an entire reception area. At a canonical capacity of 25 Mbps, an ATSC 3.0 broadcaster could push on-demand video files to an entire metro area at more than 10 GB/hour. Even with dramatically falling CDN costs, that seems compelling in densely populated areas during overnight hours.
Technicolor is pleased to have participated — and in some cases played leading roles — in the development of ATSC 3.0, particularly in video, audio and transport technology. As such, it is gratifying to see such progress — the FCC approval, as well as the aggressive ATSC 3.0 rollout in the Republic of Korea (South Korea.)
Technicolor has participated in a series of notable ATSC 3.0 over-the-air demonstrations and tests, and we will continue to support broadcasters as their launch plans take shape. Technicolor also sees the strong connection between broadcast and cable, and also broadcast and OTT video. While we are not at liberty to announce specific product plans at this juncture, we eagerly anticipate doing so when appropriate.”
Verizon Digital Media Services
Ted Middleton, chief product officer:
“We believe that ATSC 3.0 is a great next-gen evolution of broadcast. It makes a great effort to future-proof, IP-enable and converge previously divergent video standards between ‘traditional digital’ and IP-based delivery — all while embracing the latest and most forward-looking innovations in video quality/resolution, audio, metadata and more.
Additionally, it helps that standards like HEVC (H.265), DASH, MPEG-TS and others are fundamental to the spec. ATSC 3.0 also anticipates digital wireless distribution services and future broadband services like 5G and the convergence of signals to support multiple device and viewing profiles with reduced spectrum/bandwidth consumption.
A company, such as Verizon, with a wide range of services, has multiple interests in ATSC 3.0. This interest ranges from the delivery of ATSC 3.0 content over traditional MVPD services such as FiOS Video, to the delivery over our wireless services such as 4G and 5G, to support for ATSC 3.0 by our digital media services that include CDN services, video production services, and content distribution from broadcasters to their local affiliates, web publishers and digital advertisers.”