When will pay TV companies carry ATSC 3 (NextGen TV) channels?

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Every now and again, I feel the need to write about the proposed next generation of television services, called ATSC 3.0 or NextGen TV. If it’s ever put in place, sometime after 2027, it has the opportunity to revolutionize TV viewing as we know it. With ATSC 3.0, you could get 4K over the air. You could get on-demand content. There’s a whole suite of services that could make watching over-the-air a lot more like streaming.

At this point in time, seven years after testing began, there are at least a few ATSC 3.0 channels in most major TV markets. You can buy devices that will let you decode these channels if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Knowing this, a customer recently asked this question:

When will DIRECTV carry ATSC 3.0 channels in my area?

The answer’s a little more complex than you’d think.

Easy answer: not for a long long time.​


DIRECTV has the satellite capacity for thousands of new channels of 4K content thanks to its three massive satellites. However, I don’t expect to see a rush of ATSC 3.0 local channels anytime soon. Even if the whole world changed from the old ATSC 1.0 system to ATSC 3.0 overnight, it would still take time. The last time there was a major transition, in the mid-2000s, it took about four years for almost all local channels to go to the new standard.

Here’s the more important thing: there’s no reason to rush.

Today, during the testing phase of ATSC 3.0, there’s no difference between the content on the ATSC 3.0 channels and those on the channels everyone gets. ATSC 3.0 channels aren’t broadcasting in 4K today. They’re not even allowed to, during this phase of the tests. So there would be no reason for a pay-TV company to pick up an ATSC 3.0 broadcast when they already get the same content on ATSC 1.0. As a matter of fact, DIRECTV doesn’t even pick up most stations over-the-air. They use direct fiber links to the stations themselves. That means the whole question of “how is it broadcast” doesn’t matter.

Yeah, but isn’t ATSC 3.0 better quality?​


There are some people who will tell you that the ATSC 3.0 test channels in their area are better quality than the ATSC 1.0 channels. Most of the time this isn’t true. It all depends on how the regular channel is broadcast. Some TV stations choose to prioritize quality. Your local CBS affiliate probably does. They’re putting out the highest-resolution signal — 1920×1080 — and probably not using a lot of subchannels. On the other hand, your FOX and ABC affiliates are probably broadcasting at a lower resolution: 1280×720. They may also be compressing the signal to fit additional subchannels on that same signal.

If you compare the 1920×1080 signal on regular broadcast TV with the same content on ATSC 3.0, you won’t see a difference. I certainly don’t, and I’ve looked for it. But if your local channel is broadcasting at 1280×720, you might see more detail when you look at the ATSC 3.0 signal. That’s not because of ATSC 3.0, it’s because the signal is going out at a higher resolution.

Eventually, ATSC 3.0 signals could be upgraded to better quality. But today, they’re generally no better than any other broadcast signal.

Let’s talk about futureproof​


ATSC 3.0 may never happen. Or it might. No one really knows today. Obviously the people who are pouring millions of dollars into it think it will. On the other hand, several prominent antenna bloggers have lost faith. Who’s right? I don’t know.

What I do know is that you can make sure you’re futureproof. Almost every TV antenna ever made will work with ATSC 3.0, even ones from the 20th century. All new antennas made today will work with it. If you’ve been putting off the purchase of an antenna because you’re worried ATSC 3.0 will make it obsolete, stop worrying. It won’t.

ATSC 3.0 signals will use the same frequencies that television has used for 80 years. There’s no need to change your antenna technology or to wait on the sidelines. If you’re ready to get into over-the-air television, or upgrade your current antenna setup, there’s only one place you need to go. Shop at Solid Signal for all the best antennas at the best prices. If you’re not sure what you need, call the experts! We have real antenna techs waiting to talk to you at 888-233-7563. If it’s after hours, no problem! Fill out the form below. We’ll get right back to you.


The post When will pay TV companies carry ATSC 3 (NextGen TV) channels? appeared first on The Solid Signal Blog.

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Do not forget, ATSC 1.0 (mpeg 2) supports 1080 at both interlaced (1080i) and progressive (1080P).

But the broadcasters still provided the lesser of the two.

If anyone has watched, for example, a CBS show, say FBI for example, via OTA or paid Live Live TV vs on Paramount+, where it is 1080P, it is a amazing difference.

Glad we have have streaming for the better quality and the less expensive price, but even if it was more, I personally would pay, specially now since Paramount+ is providing some CBS shows in 4K, by the end of March, all of them are supposed to be, along with HDR/DV, look under the title to the right-
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This is a ridiculous question. MVPDs don't use OTA schemes for their HD and higher modulation and they won't in the future.

As for whether or not MVPDs can duplicate the additional data features of NextGen TV, that's a different (and currently not all that interesting) question.
 
This is a ridiculous question. MVPDs don't use OTA schemes for their HD and higher modulation and they won't in the future.
It's not a ridiculous question because ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are on different stations/towers than traditional 1.0 broadcasts. For instance, my local ABC affiliate is WKRN, which of course pretty much all MVPDs have a license to carry. But their ATSC 3.0 feed is actually carried on WNAB, which is a shared "lighthouse" station that also carries the ATSC 3.0 feeds for our local NBC station (plus the Dabl diginet). No MVPDs have a license to carry WNAB's signals.

Why would MVPDs ever care about carrying 3.0 feeds? Better picture quality (1080p, or someday even 4K, plus HDR), better sound quality, enhanced emergency alerts, app-like interactivity (e.g. on-screen buttons to launch on-demand content, or to vote in live polls or play games). But the reality is that local stations, under their existing call letters and carriage agreements, can (and sometimes do) provide an MVPD with better picture quality than they broadcast OTA via ATSC 1.0. So 3.0 isn't really needed for that.

I'm skeptical that ATSC 3.0 will ever be adopted by enough of the OTA viewing public to allow broadcasters to shut down 1.0. Also skeptical that we'll see carriage deals struck with MVPDs to carry 3.0 feeds. We'll see...
 
The ATSC 3 “promise” of UHD or even just better PQ is to rope in the suckers. They will cram ever more subchannels, just as today. Little or no improvement to PQ or AQ.

The PQ improvements are false, not only for the above, but because an ever greater portion of the viewers are watching on phones, tablets etc, which make no use of better PQ. Or even, AQ.
 
Why would MVPDs ever care about carrying 3.0 feeds? Better picture quality (1080p, or someday even 4K, plus HDR), better sound quality, enhanced emergency alerts, app-like interactivity (e.g. on-screen buttons to launch on-demand content, or to vote in live polls or play games).
Sounds like you've been waiting to unload that one for a while.

What you didn't do is present it in the context of a cable or satellite TV operator.
 
Sounds like you've been waiting to unload that one for a while.

What you didn't do is present it in the context of a cable or satellite TV operator.
What does ATSC 3.0 have to do with a Cable/Satellite operator?
 
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What does ATSC 3.0 have to do with a Cable/Satellite operator?
It may have something to do with establishing what a "channel" represents going forward. Other than that, nothing I can think of.

That question is one you should be asking of the TS since he brought it up.
 
What does ATSC 3.0 have to do with a Cable/Satellite operator?

It may have something to do with establishing what a "channel" represents going forward. Other than that, nothing I can think of.

That question is one you should be asking of the TS since he brought it up.

Re-read my post above. It has everything you need to know to answer this question.

I've been following ATSC 3.0 developments and contributing to the thread on that topic over at AVS Forum for the better part of a decade now.
 
I've been following ATSC 3.0 developments and contributing to the thread on that topic over at AVS Forum for the better part of a decade now.
I've been following it for a long time too. I've also been following satellite and cable. It is abundantly clear that neither cable nor satellite is particularly interested in what NextGen TV brings to the table and in terms of the exciting stuff that we were promised, the OTA people are very far from being dazzled.

My market (Portland) was an early market for ATSC 3.0 and other than causing yet another repack, it has been just another way of accessing the same content.