Agree with Tower Guy, like it or not, targeted ads and selling data about your interests will be what generates most of the income for broadcasters. They may offer additional channels for a fee as well.
20 years ago was around the time Voice-Over-IP telephony really started to take off, and many of us didn't get enough bandwidth from out ISP's to have a single audio conversation without a lot of breakups.
10 years ago, YouTube was just a few years into its existence and many of us still could not even watch a 720p video without considerable buffering. Meanwhile, the analog TV transmitters had only been shut off for a couple of years (and not all of them; there were still some low power standard def stations in operation).
I don't know about anyone else, but from the same ISP that I used 20 years ago I can now watch 1080p streaming video with no problem at all most of the time. And I can even have more than one such stream playing on the same connection. Meanwhile, the same networks that were broadcasting everything in 720p back when analog (mostly) went dark in 2009 are STILL broadcasting in 720p. In fact it is not uncommon for me to discover that I can watch a show in higher quality off the Internet that I can over "high definition" TV.
And STILL local broadcasters think they are (expletive deleted) kings and can continue to shove crap at the public and demand high rates for it. They shut down Locast which was something that actually could have saved them from irrelevance.
I am an older person and therefore I grew up with TV and am supposed to be in the group that's hooked on network television. But I have to tell you, I am at the point where I honestly could not care less if it disappeared entirely. The shows are getting terrible, with a few rare exceptions, and some of the best stuff isn't even available on network television nowadays. Now I hear there may be a strike that will halt production of most TV shows and there is a part of me that hopes it lasts a very long time, not only because I think the people who do all the real work deserve to be treated better and to receive higher wages, but also because that means I won't have to decide whether I'm going to watch a show that is no longer really entertaining just because I have been watching it from the beginning.
But the media moguls that run the groups of local stations around the country think they can push ATSC 3.0 on us, with no benefits for us to speak of, but a lot of benefits for them. Well I have a news flash for them - the day my TV is no longer able to pick up over-the-air signals is the day I stop watching over-the-air TV. I have to believe that even in spite of the current shortages of fiber (which I hope are temporary), the Internet is only going to get faster for most users, and watching a 4K stream reliably will not be impossible. At that point, who's going to want to watch a 720p picture? Maybe someone with very bad eyesight but I suspect many people are just going to turn to streaming for everything.
The one thing the networks have now that many people still want is sports. Now in full disclosure, I have never been a big sports fan, so I couldn't care less if I have the ability to watch televised sports. But many people do like them, and which do you think is going to look better, a baseball game in 720P or a baseball game in 4K? People buy huge screen TV's to watch sports, do you really think a highly compressed 720P signal will make them happy? But if MLB (and NFL and NBA and PGA et. al.) can sell them a 4K stream on the Internet and it is actually reliable (with no breakups at key moments) they will be tearing down their antennas. They won't drop a couple hundred bucks on a new tuner because they won't need one.
Both the Cabal Companies and the boredcasters are not reading the tea leaves. They are making the same mistakes that the original AT&T (not the same company that owns the trademark now) and General Telephone did up through the 1990's, delivering poor to mediocre customer service at high prices and thinking they would have their captive customer base forever, because after all, where else were you going to go to get phone service? And what they ran up against was a world in which there are a host of other ways to communicate, and a generation that would rather text than talk. I would be interested to know just what percentage of kids today have "must see" TV shows that they are actually watching ON TV, via a signal from a local broadcaster. I would bet it is not a very high percentage at all. And yet, as I said above, the broadcasters still think they are kings that can command viewership and can command payments for what they were supposed to be broadcasting for free over the public airwaves.
That distant rustling sound they hear is creeping irrelevance, and I think it is coming at them a whole lot faster than they realize. They will moan and gnash their teeth and demand that the government protect them, because after all they operate in the "public interest" (so did Locast, arguably, but they didn't mind killing that off) but sooner or later there will be an administration that's sick of giving them subsidies and favorable regulations when the public is ready to move on. Nothing last forever, and broadcast television has had a pretty good run, but the one sure thing about technology is that barring some catastrophic event that sends us back to the stone age, it will keep advancing and rendering previous achievements obsolete. Mr. Morse's telegraph was considered quite a wondrous invention when it first went into service, but who uses it today? And if they want to become irrelevant a lot sooner, cutting picture quality and tracking people so they can target advertising are a couple of sure ways to get people pissed off at them. And yes, I realize some people won't know or care, but many of those people have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and they are already outside of the target demographic for most TV shows.
And by the way, I am old and may not be around that much longer, but I still can tell the difference between a standard def picture and a HD one. But I am amazed at how many older people would rather watch old shows in standard def than new shows, until I realize that in many ways the older shows were just better. For one thing, for the first 25 years or so of commercial TV, TV sets were not always reliable, there were no VCR's, and those local broadcasters that think we should love them so much used to pre-empt network programming that you actually wanted to watch just to put on some crap that someone had paid them money to air. So TV writers could not count on people seeing every episode of a show, so the shows had to be pretty much self-contained - they generally didn't have multiple story arcs that stretched out over an entire season or more. But, you almost need to have a photographic memory to really enjoy some of the TV shows that are being made now. It's one thing if you can binge watch them all at once, but network TV doesn't do binge watching, and when you have to wait a whole season for an arc to come to a conclusion you can forget a lot, that is if you don't get terribly bored and stop watching first!