NextGen TV is the next generation over-the-air (OTA) broadcast standard. OTA broadcasts have been around as long as TVs. Before cable came along nearly all TV content was received through local broadcast antennas. Initially, stations such as ABC, NBC, and CBS broadcast analog signals then analog was converted to digital in the 2000s which enhanced the signal and picture quality to initial HD formats. NextGen TV, technically referred to as ATSC 3.0, is the new standard in interactive TV and will take OTA content consumption to another level as well as enable enhanced personalization and ad targeting.
What is NextGen TV / ATSC 3.0?
If you have a digital antenna you can get NextGen TV now if your market has been rolled-out (more on availability later). However, you need a TV with a ATSC 3.0 tuner built-in or an external ATSC 3.0 tuner connected to your TV. If you live in a metro area you can access many stations for free over-the-air and the amount of content is expected to increase with NextGen.
ATSC 3.0 is a new OTA broadcast system which provides several enhancements over the older digital technology including:
- 4K resolution and support for 8K and 3D versions of 4K when broadcasters and devices are ready to handle those upgrades.
- Theater quality Dolby sound.
- Video On Demand: ATSC 3.0 will enable the ability to not only watch live TV shows (linear TV) but also on demand content.
- IP-Based: plug your ATSC 3.0 tuner into your network and watch on any device including phones, tablets and OTT devices just like streaming services.
- Interactive: You can download an app and interactively consume your preferred content with menu-driven features.
NextGen TV is similar to video streaming over the internet but does not take up internet bandwidth. In fact, Edge Networks launched a NextGen OTA service (EVOCA) in Boise Idaho recently similar to internet streaming services (SlingTV, YoutubeTV,..) and offers 60+ channels for an introductory price of $20/month.
This brief video provides a nice overview of some of the enhancements we should expect from NextGen TV.
When will NextGen TV be available, what are the limitations and internet capabilities?
The rollout of the ATSC 3.0 standard has already started and is expected to be available to 75% of the US metro OTA viewers by the end of 2021.
NextGen TV upload capabilities are limited, and the technology is currently focused on video, so this will not be an option to replace your internet service provider (ISP) but as this becomes more widely available, and additional content is added, NextGen TV will clearly be an option to at least augment your preferred internet video streaming content for free.
Discussions are in place to potentially provide a light OTA internet service called broadcast internet however this will take time to approve by the FCC and then implement. When NextGen TV becomes more well known consumers will need to let their voices be heard that this is needed as the current internet service options are limited. Competition is good and broadcast internet will better enable towns/municipalities to provide internet service.
How does NextGen TV enhance dynamic content personalization and ad targeting?
With two-way interactively comes tracking similar to internet browsing. Knowing a users (and households) behavior will allow OTA content providers to better understand interests and enable behavioral-based personalization and ad targeting. The same analytic techniques used for digital / online behavioral segmentation and targeting may be used to enhance NextGen TV content, personalization and ad customization.
NextGen TV also enables geo-based targeting for emergency services, real time weather updates, current road conditions and local communications & offers just to name a few.
It is estimated that NextGen TV’s enhanced behavioral and geo-based targeting capabilities will increase broadcasters’ ad revenue by at least 4%. New technology does not get implemented unless there is a consumer need and businesses can make money to off-set the cost of upgrading. Both clearly exist here so expect NextGen TV to increase the usage of OTA TV.
NextGen TV: What’s next?
It will take time for ATSC 3.0 to be fully available as newer TVs need tuners capable of picking up and distributing the signal and external tuners need to be available to connect to current TV models and networks. Also, OTA content providers and stations do not currently have a FCC deadline to convert to ATSC 3.0. However, many industry experts are confident that the market demand will be there which is why there is optimism that broadcasters will convert sooner rather than later. Competition will also demand broadcasters to convert to ATSC 3.0 and long term incremental revenue opportunities are clear with enhanced personalization and targeted ads that command a premium.
If you will be in the market for a new TV in the coming years include a ATSC 3.0 tuner as a part of your decision criteria especially if you live in a metro.