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SiliconDust fudged their offering by providing just a pair of ATSC 3.0/1.0 tuners in addition to a pair of ATSC 1.0 (only) tuners (so four tuners total, but only two are ATSC 3.0/1,0 capable).
It should be noted that while an ATSC 3.0 stream is up to ~57Mbps, no single channel is using all that bandwidth (except for certain tests) and as the SiliconDust devices only transport the single (sub) channel selected (not the raw stream except for certain dev modes) the 100Mbps Ethernet tends not to be an issue for these early adopters and tests (although could be for future cases).
I thought I read awhile back that if two different channels were on the same ATSC 3.0 tower/frequency, then a single ATSC 3.0 tuner in the new Silicon Dust device could record both. And, of course, there's a lot of channel sharing going on. Here in Nashville, we have two 3.0 towers going. The one on UHF 21 hosts three HD channels, our local CBS, Fox and MyTV while the one on UHF 30 hosts 2 HD and 1 SD, our local ABC and CW, plus the diginet TBD. So my thinking was that the Silicon Dust device could record simultaneous shows on, say, the local CBS and Fox using just one of its two 3.0 tuners.
 

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The promise (or at least possibility) of better quality picture and sound will prompt a few consumers (tech/home theater geeks) to seek out ATSC 3.0 but if anything actually drives its adoption to the point that it becomes mainstream, it will be easier, more reliable reception with inexpensive indoor antennas. In other words, making it even easier to cut the cord. But even that won't be enough to get 3.0 to the point where it's successful enough for stations to shut down their 1.0 broadcasts. For that to happen, MVPDs will have to strike deals to carry those 3.0 broadcasts in addition to or in place of their legacy 1.0 broadcasts, plus the great majority of OTA viewers will have to have upgraded to 3.0 tuners. I'm not sure that will ever happen and if it does, it probably won't be until late this decade at the soonest.
 

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Interesting points, but MVPD's are still losing subscribers and it is the streaming services who have the massive numbers today, and keep them for the foreseeable future.
MVPDs are losing subs but they're still in a majority of US homes and way more Americans watch local channels via MVPDs than by OTA antennas.

OTA viewing from OTA antennas is still a niche that probably never get any bigger than it is today, unless someone can develop a device that can easily integrates streaming, OTA, etc. for a reasonable price--not the overpriced few options today. And obviously, TiVo failed rather miserably at it. Such a device could be a separate device that can integrate it all (with Straming service recording would be nice), not necessarily a "ONE box" concept that TiVo had.
Agreed. But network-connected "gateway" ATSC 3.0 tuners -- similar to HDHomeRun's line of OTA tuners -- could be the answer. Connect your OTA antenna and then connect it to your home network. Optionally plug in a storage device for DVR service. Then all the devices on your home network can access live (and DVR'd) OTA TV. That's the concept that the group behind ATSC 3.0 has been touting for years (in addition, of course, to tuners built into TVs). But if such devices are going to take off with the general public, then it will take a concerted effort on the part of OTA broadcasters to advertise (and maybe even subsidize) them, and perhaps join together to produce a single standard free "NextGen TV" app for all the main platforms (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, Samsung TV, LG webOS, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.). It remains to be seen whether that will happen and, even if it does, to what degree US households will bother with it versus just getting the same content via MPVDs and/or streaming apps like Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock, PBS, CW, etc.
 

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That's all fine for you and me, but not for the vast majority of the population, IMHO. I have NO ONE in my entire two sides of the family who could do ANY of the steps you provided in your reply, nor have ANY idea that ANY of this stuff (like HD Homerun) exists and have NO CLUE how to go about instlling it. Yes, they really CAN NOT do all that easy stuff--for you and me--to get it all to work. It is just about impossible for even find anyone who installs OTA antennas. It took me months to find ONE guy who did (at the time I could not dare go on the roof--now I can). Also, some of these prospective users are older and do NOT go on roofs anymore no have the younger brain power to "figure out how to connect and set stuff up."

Getting a connected device set-up is about the limit these people can do--along with selecting the app to launch the streaming service--let's not even get into them setting things up to record streaming content because that requires a degree for them. Even adding an external HDD is WAY beyond their capacity, or even a USB OTA tuner. Yes, simple for you and me, but not for them. So, until the installer man comes into their homes to make all this possible, it aint happening in the necessary numbers to produce a tipping point. :). People find things like HDHomeRun and even the Fire Recast (which did not sell as well as Amazon was hoping likely because the install process was way beyond who most people can handle) are just too complicated for the vast majority, so they don't get it even if they know it exists.
The concept I have in mind is more like Tablo. I set one of those up myself and it was super simple. No more difficult than setting up an OTA TiVo. It had a single fold-out instruction page with big pictures.

As for installing an OTA antenna, part of the promise of ATSC 3.0 is that it will increase the number of folks who can reliably get reception with simple indoor antennas (thanks to 3.0's lack of multipath interference and also the possibility of single-frequency networks with multiple smaller towers spread around town).

I don't think complexity is the issue, it's awareness of the product and the value of what it offers versus the entry price. Setting up an indoor antenna and installing a gateway tuner (with the option of plugging in a USB hard drive or flash drive for DVR) is definitely do-able for most Americans if the software and installation instructions are user-friendly (such as with Tablo). Sure, there will always be folks who can't or won't do that, just like there are folks who use an iPhone but won't initially set it up and instead rely on the folks at the Verizon store to do it. But those folks could get a grandson or neighbor to do it or, assuming there was sufficient public demand for OTA TV, hire someone such as Best Buy's Geek Squad to do the set-up.

I don't think Europeans are smarter or more tech-savvy than Americans but they use free and subscription OTA TV to a far greater extent than we do. The difference is that it's a well-known and understood option there. So again, I don't think technical complexity is the main barrier for ATSC 3.0 adoption, I just think it's public awareness of it combined with 3.0 being a sufficiently compelling offering in the first place.

As for installation of outdoor OTA antennas, I doubt that becomes all that common again. But a big chunk of US households, maybe even a majority, should be able to receive their local 3.0 stations with an indoor antenna. Those are really the targets for OTA adoption, not the folks who have to put a big antenna on their roof.
 

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COFDM is in general far more robust, but as with all else, your reception will vary (and while COFDM is in general more robust, there are a couple of cases where it can perform poorer than 8VSB).
One of the biggest reception advantages that ATSC 3.0/COFDM has over ATSC 1.0/8VSB is that multipath interference does not exist with the former while it's a major problem with the latter. There are millions of Americans who live in urban/suburban areas where they can pick up all their major local 1.0 stations with sufficient signal strength with an indoor antenna but multipath interference often makes certain channels glitchy to the point of unwatchable with major pixellation and audio drop-outs.

I had to spend a ton of time over the years experimenting with different antennas positioned in different spots to minimize multipath on various stations. I've never been able to fully eliminate it but I've gotten to the point where it's only rarely a problem now. Shame there's not more worth watching on the broadcast networks these days, ha.
 

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The end game is to sell the remaining UHF TV spectrum to the cellular companies. TV can continue to use the VHF channels, and with ATSC3, that's enough.
I kinda think the end game may be to use most of the ATSC 3.0 spectrum for non-TV uses (e.g. datacasting services contracted out to other companies, including perhaps auto manufacturers). I'm a bit skeptical that there will ever be sufficient consumer adoption of 3.0 tuners to allow them to shut down their 1.0 broadcasts.

I can see local stations and the major networks they carry increasingly offering 4K HDR and Atmos audio to their paying viewers via the cable TV services they work with. We already see this right now, with select NBC affiliates around the country passing on a 4K or 4K HDR version of their linear channel's NBC primetime Tokyo Olympics show to some of their cable TV distribution partners (Comcast, YouTube TV, Altice, etc.). But none of those local NBC stations are broadcasting 4K or 4K HDR OTA via ATSC 3.0. One doesn't depend on the other.

The future of 4K HDR will be via OTT streaming and managed IPTV. Maybe we see some primetime network content done in 1080p HDR via ATSC 3.0 stations in the next few years. Those stations don't generally have the bandwidth needed for 4K given that they're sharing towers, so 1080p HDR is probably the best they can do, assuming the networks even provide it to them for free OTA tranmission. Meanwhile, those stations will pass their signal in full 4K HDR to paying cable TV services capable of handling it (as we're already seeing with this Olympics). The next-day on-demand versions offered through their partner streaming services (Hulu for ABC, Paramount+ for CBS, Peacock for NBC) will offer those shows in 4K HDR too. The broadcast nets have every incentive to give the best picture quality to those outlets since they own them.
 

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Today there are (often one) lighthouse ATSC 3.0 transmitters shared with multiple stations. Eventually(*) it is expected there will likely be (one?) remaining lighthouse ATSC 1.0 transmitters for the DMA to support those that have not yet purchased a newer TV(**), with highly compressed subchannels that may technically be HD, but are not going to have great PQ due to the sharing, and the other broadcasters will move their primary transmitter to ATSC 3.0. The exact transition schedules will, of course, vary by market, but it does look like that is the working thinking.

(*) The current regs require (approximately) the same DMA coverage for ATSC 1.0 to continue as has been the norm. In a few years that same coverage will no longer be required, so sharing a transmitter that has different characteristics becomes viable (all the stations, of course, want to maintain their coverage, but they may be willing to compromise at the edges, especially in locations that have had historically complicated coverage).

(**) While everyone is different, the average replacement age of a TV is around 7 years. The newer/larger/expense sets (that tend to be on the higher end of replacement years) are starting to come with ATSC 3.0 tuners, and the cheaper/smaller sets (that tend to be on the lower end of the replacement years) are starting to transition.
Yeah, that's definitely an accurate description of what the NAB has been saying for years in terms of how ATSC 3.0 will transition in. What I'm saying is "We'll see if it actually happens."

AFAIK, there are very few new TV models that have 3.0 tuners built-in. I think it's an open question whether manufacturers will be willing to pay more to include those tuners in their TVs (thereby either increasing the retail price of the TV and/or reducing their profit margins), especially the lower-to-midrange models that account for the bulk of sales, given the following factors:

  • The vast majority of TVs are purchased by people who rely on cable and/or streaming and do not connect an OTA antenna to their TV
  • 3.0 stations are still unavailable in most markets and, even in launched markets, usually one or more major local isn't on 3.0. (Here in Nashville, for instance, 3.0 launched about a year ago but our NBC and PBS stations are still only on 1.0, with no stated intentions of launching on 3.0.)
  • Very few 3.0 stations offer enhanced picture quality vs. their 1.0 version yet and there's been no announcements by the major networks with regard to their plans to offer native 4K/1080p/HDR/Atmos formats. I believe a few NBC affiliates on 3.0 may be distributing an up-converted (i.e. fake) HDR feed but I think that's all I've read about so far.

Meanwhile, the only standalone 3.0 tuners available so far are a few models by HDHomeRun starting at $200. And they've had some problems, especially with audio. Seems like the stations and HDHomeRun are still figuring out how to make everything work.

Also, keep in mind that no device (TV or standalone tuner) is shipped with only 3.0 tuners. If it has 3.0, it has a 1.0 tuner too. So those viewers can continue to fall back on 1.0 signals as long as they're available.

It's cliche to say, but seems to me that 3.0 adoption is suffering from the ol' chicken and egg problem without an FCC mandate. Who knows, maybe a decade from now, we'll see all OTA stations (including popular subchannels) on 3.0, with so few viewers still relying on 1.0 that stations start pulling the plug on those signals. But I think it's also quite possible that the whole thing sort of fizzles out and station owners end up using their 3.0 towers mainly for non-TV uses, to bring in additional income, while they continue to broadcast on a reduced amount of 1.0 spectrum indefinitely with diminished PQ. As I understand it, stations are free to do pretty much whatever they want with their 3.0 bandwidth at five years after the law was passed. Until then, their 3.0 station has to feature at least the same main channel as they have on their 1.0 station.

For the current voluntary transition plan to work, we'd really need both the station owner groups and the broadcast networks to be all-in in a way that would create significant consumer demand for 3.0 tuners (or those groups subsidizing the cost of 3.0 tuners to make them very cheap and easily accessible). Maybe we'll see that materialize by, say, 2023, but we're certainly not seeing it yet. Remember that it's always been the station owners (especially Sinclair) who have touted 3.0, not the network owners (Disney, Comcast, ViacomCBS, Fox) who have their own streaming apps as well cable channels. Frankly, I've never really seen how it's in the networks' interests to support 3.0.
 

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Hi all - this may be a dumb question, but I read that NextGen / 3.0 will leverage the same spectrum (6Mhz) as historical OTA broadcasts. As such, would it be possible to use a 1.0 DVR, such as the Roamio, and then run the live or recorded broadcast through a converter or to a 3.0 compatible TV (which I have - a 2021 Sony) in order to get the 3.0 quality video? Put another way, if the TVs / converters are already converting or upscaling the feed as part of the 3.0 rendering, could they not do so once it's run through a 1.0 DVR? Thank you!!
Your DVR would need an ATSC 3.0 tuner in it, or somehow connected to it (via wifi, ethernet or USB), in order to record the 3.0 signal. There's really no way to do it the other way around as you propose (i.e. capturing the signal then feeding it through a 3.0 tuner in your TV). Sony TVs run Android TV as their OS. It would be easy enough for Sony (or a third party) to create a DVR app to run on your TV and record from its internal 3.0 tuner. No idea if we'll ever see that though.
 

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I don't see it either. They're already about bottomed out on what is practical for mobile use frequency wise. I think the end game was to try to combine stations to lower broadcast costs while continuing to sell to pay TV (if it exists by then), or through network-centric streaming services like Peacock for NBC, but I also don't see 1.0 going away.

What I think will actually happen is OTA and the networks and affiliates will continue to fade away to lower and lower quality content, eventually just being a repository for low-grade re-run and syndicated content, kind of like the subchannels are today. If we're lucky, they'll keep a little bit of content on OTA to try and upsell to their network's streaming service.
He's back! Bigg, where you been, man? Thought maybe Covid had gotten you.

Yeah, I think the picture you paint of where OTA TV is heading is plausible. Although it looks like NFL will remain on the major broadcast nets (as well as their affiliated OTT services like Paramount+, Peacock and ESPN+) at least through 2030, and probably through 2033, based on the new long-term deal that was struck earlier this year. As long as the nation's most popular sport remains on live OTA TV, it can't totally become a low-grade dumping ground. But come 2034, who knows...

EDIT: Corrected "2020" to "2030".
 

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I haven't been around here, AVS, or DSLR much. I just don't care that much about this stuff anymore, it's gotten so commoditized that it's gotten rather boring TBH. ATSC 3.0 seems to be moving very slooooowly in rolling out. My viewing has mostly shifted to streaming, but I still watch a decent amount of OTA on the Roamio OTA.
Fair enough. I feel somewhat the same. My viewing has been predominantly streaming (SVOD and AVOD) for a long while now, with a dwindling amount of OTA, either live (Channels app) or recorded (MythTV).

I'm still not sure if cable will eventually lose critical mass and go into a fast implosion, or if the current slow decline and hollowing out of channel content will continue with large numbers of subscriptions supported by aggressive bundling practices by vertically integrated MSOs (ahem, Comcast) and bulk deals.
Well, some analysts believe that the cable bundle has a floor of maybe around 50 million households that are very much into the live sports and/or news/opinion content exclusive to cable nets and unavailable on streaming. But then we're now seeing the NFL available on both platforms and it looks like the RSNs, which carry the bulk of regular season MLB, NBA and NHL games, may follow suit. And as entertainment content continues to be hollowed out from the bundle and shift to streaming, it's an open question if there really is a cable bundle floor anywhere close to 50 million. Supposedly Disney's current thinking on the ESPN channels is that their live content won't become available OTT direct-to-consumer (via a standalone ESPN app) unless and until the bundle sinks "well under 50 million US households."

As for MSO support for bundling TV, I really think that's dying, even with Comcast. I think we're nearing a point, if we're not there yet, where Comcast and Charter see mobile as their no. 2 product behind broadband, not cable TV. And smaller MSOs are actively pitching vMVPDs and DTC SVODs to their customers, either as alternatives to their traditional cable TV service or because they've completely stopped selling it.

I think the more interesting question might be what is the end game for cable and cable networks?
I think we're looking at a long slow decline for cable TV but I'm skeptical that the concept of linear channels will ever go away. Maybe at some point they only exist as psuedo-channels like Pluto TV has. The expectation is that broadband providers will evolve toward selling bundles of streaming services. It wouldn't surprise me if at some point we see the media titans begin tying distribution of their remaining linear cable channels to their DTC apps, e.g. to get the various Warner Discovery linear nets, you also take HBO Max; to get the Disney channels, you also take the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle, etc. Maybe we see something like that in the back half of this decade.

So to loop back around to the NFL, I don't think having the NFL alone will keep OTA at it's current level. It could become a pretty low-grade dumping ground on nights that aren't football. Maybe the big events and some local news viewers are enough to keep OTA as a relatively workable business. Some major changes in the financial relationship between the affiliates and networks is going to have to happen though, as there is a declining amount of money in primetime programming.
Aside from the NFL, which is the highest-value content the broadcast nets air, I suspect that the rest of their primetime line-ups are increasingly about giving exposure to shows also available on their DTC services, e.g. Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock. It's hard for shows to break through the media clutter and get noticed. Being on an outlet with the reach of the broadcast nets definitely helps a show get noticed and drive viewers to it on streaming (in the same way that a pop song getting used in a TV commercial can help it break through and become a hit on Spotify, etc.). But I can imagine the broadcast nets following Fox's lead and making fewer scripted live-action shows (which are more expensive) and shifting toward cheaper-to-produce stuff that's more compatible with live drop-in viewing (i.e. no continuing story line) such as competition, reality and talk.

As for ATSC 3.0, I see the transition continuing at a glacial pace. If we're very lucky, maybe we'll get 1080p HDR feeds of the major networks, if not, at least better quality than MPEG-2 on ATSC 1.0, although even those have improved quite a bit in spite of reduced bandwidth, due to advances in software encoding.
Yeah. I think the jury is very much out as to whether ATSC 3.0 survives long-term or ends up being abandoned in a few years. Not sure that the broadcast nets, TV manufacturers, or MVPDs are going to support it to the level necessary to make it really take off and supplant ATSC 1.0 with an FCC mandate, which doesn't exist and I suspect won't ever.

I can imagine a middle scenario where most markets ends up with just one or two 3.0 stations that are profitably used mainly for non-TV uses such as datacasting, assuming that the Nexstar/Sinclair-owned BitPath initiative succeeds in landing major automakers as clients, using 3.0 receivers in cars to deliver infotainment services and perhaps even help with self-driving cars through Enhanced GPS.

I keep thinking that I need to stay on topic, and then I remember where I am again. :D:D:D
Topic, schmopic. This is TCF! :D
 

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Nice. I didn't even realize MythTV was still around!
Yeah, MythTV is open-source, so I guess it'll never die (although may cease getting updated at some point). It uses Schedules Direct, an unaffiliated non-profit service, for US guide listings here in the US. One-year subscription is $25. But I now just have MythTV pull in free PSIP guide data embedded in the OTA signals each day to ensure that my recordings work every evening. So it's totally free to me, except for the one-time cost of a $10 client app some guy developed for Apple TV. I love having all my TV on one device via one remote!

Agreed. We've already seen a wave of dance shows and game show sorts of things that are relatively cheap and easy to produce. It's also hard to compete for quality on scripted content when you've got platforms like Netflix that aren't boxed into 22 minute episodes, and have highly granular data to go with them.
Saw an interesting article over at Variety today, showing how live-or-same-day viewership in the key 18-49 demo has fallen by more than half among the big 4 broadcast nets between fall 2015 and fall 2021.

Fading Ratings: How Far Broadcast TV Has Tumbled Since 2015 - Variety

And the number of scripted series among the top 25-rated telecasts has declined a lot too. There were 14 back in 2015 but just 6 this fall, and they're all toward the bottom of the bunch. Broadcast viewing, at least in the under-50 demo, is now dominated by sports, specials, reality/competition and 60 Minutes. Which isn't to say that the network scripted shows aren't being watched, it's just that they're increasingly being viewed via SVOD (e.g. Hulu), cable on-demand, or DVR over the following days.

I don't think ATSC 3.0 will go away, I just foresee it getting stuck in the first phase for a long time, with one or two ATSC 3.0 stations broadcasting multiple networks, and the rest staying on 1.0.
Yeah, that could happen. But I wonder how long stations owner are going to give ATSC 3.0 to prove itself and become a profit center, rather than cost center, for them. As things stand now, I doubt that simulcasting the major network feeds on 3.0 brings in any additional incremental viewers they wouldn't have had if they only aired on 1.0. In some cases, 3.0 viewers report that the picture quality is better but in most cases so far, it's the same or even worse. And many also complain about problems decoding the new Dolby AC-4 audio codec used on 3.0.

The big question is when will the broadcast nets begin offering an enhanced feed -- if they ever do, most likely 1080p HDR with Atmos audio -- to their affiliates to air via 3.0. Without that, I don't see consumers (and therefore TV manufacturers) showing much interest in 3.0. The only reason I can see right now why one would care about it is that the local 3.0 signal may be easier to receive/more reliable than the corresponding 1.0 signals. But let's face it, not that many folks want to fool with an OTA antenna and those who do, outside of a few middle-aged tech geeks, are just casual network TV viewers who want something free for occasional viewing. If they can't pick up all the main channels, eh, so what, it's free. They're mainly watching Netflix and Hulu anyhow. The whole thing increasingly has the feel to me of 3D TV or maybe HD Radio.

So if by 2024 or 2025, the situation looks largely the same as now, with 1-2 ATSC 3.0 stations lit up in markets across the nation, and only certain higher-end model TVs having 3.0 tuners built in, and little or no premium format content from the broadcast nets, then I could easily see broadcasters withdrawing from the experiment and converting those 3.0 towers back to 1.0. At least they could then support more multicast diginets (with some of them in 720p instead of 480i) to bring in some additional viewers and ad revenue.

The datacasting stuff seems dubious at best to me. That and every mention of 5G self-driving cars. I don't really see anything that either technology could do that isn't already possible over 4G or sub-6 5G. Heck, real-time traffic and maps worked fine over 3G.
The much lower latency of 5G is what's supposed to be the key to using it in self-driving cars. Anyhow, yeah, I don't know if Sinclair and Nexstar will end up getting any takers on their joint datacasting service BitPath. But maybe. Striking deals with Ford, GM, etc. to build 3.0 receivers into their cars and offer them a lower-cost way (vs. 5G/4G) to distribute car software updates, maps and traffic data, and subscription entertainment services (music stations, on-demand video, etc.) is, I'm told, what they're really hoping for. If something like that came to fruition, then I could imagine 3.0 being profitable for those two broadcasting groups (the two largest in the nation), even if the TV side fizzled out. They might just operate one 3.0 tower per market and use it exclusively for BitPath.
 

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It's weird but one part of adopting ATSC 3.0 maybe getting cable systems to use it.
Well, technically, pay/cable TV operators wouldn't be distributing ATSC 3.0. I mean, they don't distribute ATSC 1.0 signals now. They take whatever raw feed the local stations give them (often via fiber, although with some smaller stations/markets, the cable operator may actually be capturing the station's OTA signal) and then they recompress/transcode that audio/video stream into whatever they deliver to their customers' STBs. ATSC 1.0, for instance, is encoded in MPEG-2 but cable operators usually transcode to H.264. In some cases (e.g. Comcast) they may even down-rez 1080i signals to 720p. Additional features like 5.1 audio and SAP may or may not be retained by the operator in the stream.

That said, it could be that the rise of ATSC 3.0 creates an opportunity for locals across the nation to begin offering cable operators a higher-quality feed, e.g. 1080p HDR Atmos. And of course those locals will want to get paid higher retransmission fees in exchange for the enhanced feed. But it's important to note that, if the broadcast networks and their affiliates wanted to do this, there's really no need for them to embrace ATSC 3.0 and offer an enhanced OTA signal. Local stations can, and sometimes do, encode a different feed for delivery to cable operators vs. what they send to their OTA tower. A good example was this past summer when certain NBC stations offered a 4K live feed of the Olympics to Comcast, YouTube TV and others. Meanwhile, it was the same ol' 1080i signal that got beamed out OTA via ATSC 1.0.

But you're definitely onto something when thinking about the potential connection between ATSC 3.0 and cable. Because if the networks get behind 3.0 and it takes off, part of the thinking will be to get carriage from cable operators for whatever aspects of the enhanced signals that they agree to support. (Better picture and audio quality, of course, although I question whether the targeted advertising and interactive features of ATSC 3.0 will be supported by cable operators and their STBs and apps.)

Bitpath will still have to fight dead zones the bane of any form of over the air broadcasting. The dead zones are not going away.
Definitely. I think BitPath is positioning itself as an IOT alternative to 5G, but not a complete substitute for it. Basically: "If your target devices can get a decent BitPath OTA signal, then you'll deliver your data payload to the device that way and save money. But if the device can't connect to our signal, then it will need to fall back to 5G/4G and you'll have to pay a higher data transmission rate to Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile/DISH.
 

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It also could be that ATSC 3.0 is experimental and not ready for prime time yet.
I think this is a lot of it. Station engineers are still getting their feet wet with ATSC 3.0 and, to be honest, hardly anyone is watching those broadcasts yet. So this is the time to experiment with the wide range of parameters and features available to them within the 3.0 spec to figure out how they want to implement things long-term.
 

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While it's possible they would charge for 1080 HD, I don't think it's likely. As mentioned in the video, 4k might be another story.
Yeah, agreed. If you really want to ponder a worst-case (yet plausible) scenario for OTA, how about the following. ATSC 3.0 adoption and usage never really takes off among OTA TV viewers. Major MVPDs like Comcast, Charter, DirecTV, YouTube TV, etc. are unwilling to pay more to carry enhanced 3.0 versions of locals, so it doesn't bring in the higher retrans fees that broadcasters hoped for. Broadcasters find better ways to monetize their OTA spectrum than free TV. So they consolidate all their video broadcasts on a couple of 1.0 towers (everything in widescreen SD) and a couple of 3.0 towers (main channels in HD, everything else in SD). They use the rest of their 3.0 towers for commercial datacasting and other non-TV uses (i.e. the stuff that Sinclair/Nexstar joint venture BitPath is trying to do). Meanwhile, we continue to see ever more high-value high-quality content -- eventually even including NFL games come 2033 (when the current broadcast contracts lapse) -- shift from broadcast networks to direct-to-consumer OTT services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney+, etc.
 

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Yeah that would be a pretty bad use case. I really don't think stations that adopt 3.0 are going to continue broadcasting in 1.0 any longer than they have to, because of cost.
But the thing is, they can't pull the plug on those 1.0 towers as long as a big chunk of their OTA viewers are still watching those broadcasts and not the newer 3.0 broadcasts. And there's ZERO chance they would shut down those 1.0 stations so long as any existing retrans contracts with cable providers (MVPDs) remain based on their 1.0 stations. Those retrans fees are how they make the bulk of their money. (It's possible, though, that those agreements might be amended so that, instead of the original 1.0 feed, the stations provide their 3.0 feed or perhaps some feed that doesn't actually exist as an OTA broadcast, IDK.)

So the next question, is "How long might we reasonably expect it to take for a sufficient portion of TVs actively used for OTA viewing in the US -- let's say 85% of them -- to have been replaced/upgraded to be 3.0-compatible? Given what I've read about TV replacement cycles, and the relatively slow speed with which TV manufacturers are incorporating 3.0 tuners across their TV model lines so far, my educated guess is that we wouldn't see that threshold hit until maybe 2030. Now, that could potentially be hurried along if the US government got involved by issuing a mandate that all TVs sold must include a 3.0 tuner and also by providing consumer subsidies (as they did in the NTSC to ATSC 1.0 transition) for upgraded external 3.0 tuners to encourage viewers to make the switch. But I don't see either happening.

So my best guess is broadcasters will be stuck running on both 3.0 and 1.0 at least for the rest of this decade. Unless, of course, they just give up on 3.0 before them, which I wouldn't say is probable but I would say is plausible.
 

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I also use three HDHomeRun Prime boxes on FiOS. One with a cable card and the other two without. So it looks like the local OTA stations on the other two. So the Plex DVR has ten tuners to record from for the local content. And then three for cable channels from the Prime I use with a cable card.
Are you hearing about plans for Verizon FiOS to drop QAM-based TV? They just introduced a new 2 Gig fiber service in NYC and it uses a new ONT and gateway which do not support coax TV or MoCA. Verizon is telling those customers that TV service will become available at a later date but it's not clear whether they mean FiOS TV via IPTV/OTT or maybe just Verizon selling and billing for YouTube TV (although I think that may already be an option).

One person posting on another forum was under the impression that FiOS TV would switch from QAM to IPTV, although he wasn't sure of that. Also possible, I suppose, that Verizon does like Comcast and operates their cable TV service both ways, via QAM and managed IPTV, with some homes/devices receiving one version and some the other. But given that FiOS TV continues to bleed subs and is now down to about 3.65 million, solidly behind YTTV and Hulu Live (each with an estimated ~4 million), I question whether Verizon would bother doing that. Most other former Baby Bell telcos have stopped selling, or even completely shut down, their own cable/IPTV service (e.g. AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier). And Verizon is clearly hot for third-party national OTT services with their upcoming +Play streaming aggregation/billing platform. Seems the most likely scenario is that they keep selling FiOS TV but only to those addresses that continue to have the old-style ONT. Or perhaps they completely shut down new sales and only allow existing subs to keep it.
 

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Many MVPDs are getting direct fiber feeds, either of the ATSC 1.0 broadcast, or a different feed, so there's really no connection between ATSC 1.0 broadcast OTA and MVPDs having a feed to broadcast.
Well, a given station's ATSC 3.0 feed is actually broadcasting on a separate station license and so the MVPD carriage contract would have to be for that separate station if they wanted the 3.0 feed. For instance, the local Nexstar-owned ABC affiliate here in Nashville is WKRN. They broadcast their 1.0 feed on that actual station, under their FCC license for UHF 27. But through a complicated station sharing arrangement between Nexstar and Sinclair, WKRN's 3.0 feed of their main .1 (ABC) channel is carried on Sinclair's WNAB, under their FCC license for UHF 30.

There's been talk about MVPDs such as Comcast eventually licensing and carrying local stations' superior 3.0 feeds instead of, or in addition to, their standard 1.0 feeds. But if they did that, the contract would have to be for whichever specific 3.0 station actually carries those feeds (in the example above, WNAB).

Now, all that said, I keep saying that there's really no reason for MVPDs to ever bother specifically licensing 3.0 stations anyhow, because local stations already can and do offer higher quality versions of their main 1.0 feed if they have in agreement in place with MVPDs to do so. During both recent Olympics, in fact, we saw various NBC affiliates offering certain MVPDs, including Comcast and YouTube TV, live 4K feeds! They were NOT sending out 4K on their 3.0 OTA feeds but they were sending it to select MVPDs who had the internal distribution capabilities to offer it to their customers (and who, I'm sure, were paying those NBC affiliates extra $ for the enhanced quality).

I think we could just end up with both for a long time. Although by 2030, I'm not sure there's even going to be much OTA viewership left.
I made some long posts recently on the ATSC 3.0 thread over at AVS Forum about where I now see all this going. But to summarize, I think that cable TV as we know it will largely cease to be sold in the latter half of this decade. Existing customers would likely be grandfathered in on their channel bundle packages but what we'll see being sold going forward instead will just be media companies' own direct-to-consumer apps, which will include live streams of their most popular linear channels. So Disney+, for instance, would include live streams of ABC (national feed), FX, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., and Nat Geo. (BTW, well before this time, Hulu will cease to exist as a separate app/service and instead just be the adult general entertainment content hub inside Disney+.) HBO Max (or whatever it's called by then) would include live streams of CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, Discovery, HGTV, Food, and TLC. Less popular/secondary channels might be shut down, with their content concentrated onto the main linear channels, which would then be forced to air fewer reruns.

The on-demand and linear channel content from all the various apps you subscribe to will be commingled on the home screen of whatever streaming OS you use, whether it's built into your smart TV or comes from an external box/stick/dongle: Fire TV, Google TV, Roku, Apple TV, Samsung TV, LG TV, etc. There will be one major OS (currently branded as Flex) owned and operated jointly by the two largest cable broadband operators, Comcast and Charter. Whichever OS you use will allow you to download the apps and subscribe through their app store, with combined billing of all the services you subscribe to (although you'll also have the option of subscribing to those services directly through their own website, perhaps at a discount since that will mean the service doesn't have to give a cut of your subscription fees to the app store/biller). The UI of all these various streaming OSes will include an aggregate channel grid guide that will pull in all the different linear channels you get, both paid and free, from the various underlying apps you have installed.

Now, if you're using a smart TV with a built-in OTA tuner and a connected antenna, yes, its aggregated grid guide will show your local OTA stations, each of which will still have a combination of national network content and local station content (e.g. national news in the morning, local news in the afternoon, syndicated shows after that, then local and national news early evening, followed by national primetime, etc.). But in terms of these new app-originated streaming channels, the national vs. local content will be disaggregated. For instance, there will be a national live stream of the ABC network coming from one underlying app (Disney+) and a separate live stream from Nashville's News 2 (WKRN) featuring their local news and lifestyle content 24/7 coming from their own Nexstar-operated app. The networks need their local affiliates in the traditional TV era. In the direct-to-consumer streaming era, they do not.

Now let's take the logic a step further. Why would Disney keep any of their high-value content on ABC? Actually, even now, they really don't. They moved Monday Night Football from ABC behind their cable and OTT paywalls, ESPN and ESPN+ respectively, awhile ago. I think we'll see CBS, NBC and Fox do pretty much the same thing. (Fox doesn't have an OTT subscription service, so they'll likely just sell off the streaming rights to their live sports to third parties such as Apple TV+, Prime Video, ESPN+, etc.) After that, what's left on the broadcast networks? An assortment of relatively low-cost content. At the high end, cost-wise, you'll see filmed shows with lesser-known actors who don't command big paydays. So even that stuff won't be too pricey to produce. At the low end, you'll see lots of cheap game/competition/reality/talk shows. In between, scripted animation, which is still fairly cheap.

In other words, the big media companies will have restructured the cost basis of their broadcast nets so that they can be profitable as totally free, ad-supported ventures. Which will be necessary, because by that point they'll be receiving relatively little retrans money from their local affiliates, and that revenue source will eventually dwindle to nothing. So we'll see a live national feed of ABC not just in the paid Disney+ app but also in a future FAST (free ad-supported TV) app from Disney. (My suggestion: call it Magic. "What happens when Disney brings some of the world's most beloved content to your home, totally free? Magic.") We'll see a live national feed of CBS not just in Paramount+ but also in their free Pluto TV app. Likewise with NBC and Fox. (Fox will probably never have an SVOD but they'll put their Fox network in their FAST app Tubi.) It will be in those companies' interests to maximize viewership, and therefore ad revenue, of their cheap broadcast content, so why make folks bother with an OTA antenna to watch it? Just stream it for free, live and on-demand, with unskippable ads.

The high-value content, including most sports and filmed series and movies with big stars, will be exclusive to those companies' paid SVODs, e.g. Disney+, Paramount+, etc.

If it does pan out this way, then by the time we get to 2030, who's going to bother with an OTA antenna if all that same content can be streamed, live and on-demand, for free, with equal or better PQ and without reception problems? There will be hardly any US homes by 2030 who don't have broadband service with unlimited data or at least a sufficiently high data cap to allow for all their video viewing.

I think it'll be pretty clear by 2025 to anyone in the industry with a brain that this is the way it's all heading. Which is why ATSC 3.0 will never really take off. By that point, I think you'll see smart TV manufacturers stop paying extra to include a separate 3.0 tuner in their TVs. Consumers aren't really clamoring for them. The broadcast networks aren't ever going to really support the full capabilities of 3.0. But meanwhile, you can already watch select CBS series next-day in 4K HDR on Paramount+. The big media companies, who are the ones who really have the power in this equation, understand that the successor to ATSC 1.0 isn't ATSC 3.0. It's their own FAST and SVOD apps, where they control the UI, where they collect the data, and where they don't have to share the subscription or advertising revenue with local station owners like Nexstar, Sinclair, Scripps, etc.
 

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But what does cable carriage of an ATSC 3.0 vs ATSC 1.0 feed even mean? ATSC are OTA broadcast standards
Yes, you're entirely correct. But I do believe that IF an MVPD wanted to distribute a local station's ATSC 3.0 feed --which might be, let's say, in 1080p HDR with Atmos audio and feature certain interactive on-screen elements as well as the AWARN emergency alerting system -- then the MVPD would have to have a specific contract in place with the station to do that. And they would have to agree about which ATSC 3.0 features would be preserved in the bitstream that the MVPD sends over their network to their users' STBs and apps.

But yeah, it still might mean that the MVPD is able to transcode the incoming H.265 stream into a different codec or a more compressed H.265 stream to save bandwidth. Who knows. At the end of the day, it's not really worth discussing because it'll never happen, ha.

I disagree about cable. I think it will shrink and partially implode, but it has a lot of inertia, and there are many commercial customers that want live channels, so I think at least a handful of the large, well known channels will continue to have linear channels, even if the main property shifts to OTT.
Let me see if I can explain this a bit better so you can grasp what I envision. Let's say it's 2026. Comcast and Charter, through their joint Flex streaming platform and its app store, announce that they are no longer selling their traditional cable channel packages with their high prices and outrageous broadcast TV add-on fees, which in many areas are now as much as $30 per month.

"Our customers have spoken," they say "and they overwhelming prefer to subscribe to video through direct-to-consumer apps, allowing them to put together and pay for just the package of content that suits them. And we're proud to offer our customers all the popular subscription and free video apps they could want, with convenient unified billing through the same credit or debit card they use to pay for the broadband service we provide. They can download and immediately subscribe to any of these services right on our Flex box and enjoy a unified watchlist that spans all the apps they use. And many of these apps include those companies' most popular cable channels which can be live streamed inside those apps. Our Flex home screen even has a special area to highlight free local apps that feature live and on-demand local news, weather and sports to keep our customers safe, informed and connected to their communities. Our Flex home screen even features a unified channel guide that shows all the live channels, whether subscription or fee, that the user has access to from the various apps they've installed on Flex!"

So at this point, those Comcast and Charter customers who still have a traditional style MVPD package, with local channels and their broadcast TV fee, plus a bunch of different channels from various media companies -- some from Disney, some from Paramount, some from Warner, etc. -- they'd still be able to keep that service. It just wouldn't be sold to any NEW customers going forward. And if a customer dropped their traditional cable service, they couldn't get it back.

As for the direct-to-consumer apps which would effectively replace the old cable bundle, I suspect there will just be a few. Who knows what sort of mergers will take place in the next few years, but let's hypothetically say that NBCUniversal and Paramount merge; they keep CBS and sell off NBC to Warner Bros. Discovery. So then we have three major SVODs from old Hollywood: Disney+ (which will have absorbed Hulu), The Max (the result of merging HBO Max, Discovery+, and NBC shows and sports), and Paramount+ (which will have absorbed much of Peacock as well as Paramount's own Showtime, BET+ and Noggin). In addition, Disney will have created a handful of ESPN-branded DTC services focusing on different sports, all of which can be mixed and matched together and viewed inside a single ESPN app. Assuming they haven't been acquired by bigger companies, little ol' AMC+ and Starz will also be available. The old RSNs will have been replaced by various apps featuring either specific sports leagues (e.g. MLB, NBA) or teams (e.g. Cubs, Yankees).

Each of those apps will have by this point in time completely cannibalized their sibling linear channels. So, for instance, there won't be any current content airing on any of the Warner Bros. Discovery channels that's not available same-day in The Max. Moreover, The Max will actually include live streams of that company's most popular linear channels, e.g. CNN, HBO, HGTV, TLC, Discovery, etc. (Actually, by this time, HBO might be an optional premium add-on to The Max rather than a core part of the service.)

In addition, other apps offered will of course include Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube and PBS. And we'll see free ad-supported apps from each of the big three Hollywood players: Paramount's Pluto TV and whatever WBD and Disney call theirs. (I keep thinking Magic is the obvious name for Disney's. As for WBD, IDK. Maybe MiniMax to go alongside The Max? Or maybe they get the rights to the Peacock brand if they acquire NBC and recycle that as the name of their FAST app.) And there will also be Fox's FAST, Tubi. (As for Fox News, it'll be sold through their Fox Nation app, which will at that time have a live stream of the Fox News, Fox Business and Fox Weather channels. I wish I could say it will be dead by then but who are we kidding?)

So I'm not saying that the more popular linear cable channels disappear. They just get absorbed into the DTC SVOD apps. And then whichever streaming OS you use -- whether that's Flex or Apple TV or Google TV or Fire TV or whatever -- will have some kind of live channel grid guide that aggregates all those channels from the various underlying apps together in one place. Most of them already have something like this in place now.

So we're basically just talking about going from the old MVPD model where content from multiple media companies gets packaged together by the middle-man to a new system where it's all going direct from the separate media companies to the consumers, with the middle-men (the app stores/tech platforms) just providing billing services and UIs that aggregate content together in a home screen that's helpful to consumers.

The big loser, here, of course, will be the local broadcast station owners, who will get cut out of those outrageously high retrans fees they charge the MVPDs. Frankly, in the DTC streaming era, the national networks no longer need their local station affiliates as distribution partners. So why keep cutting them in on the money? The local stations understand the relatively low perceived value of their local news content, which is why pretty much all of them already give it away for free through their own apps. All they charge the consumer is a few minutes of their time in the form of unskippable targeted ads.
 

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I think that will basically happen- but there will still be linear channels available, at least via DBS for a long time to come, at least for commercial customers, and probably various rural/RV/boat/whatever users as well. It may only be a few dozen channels, not the 400+ channel mess that's out there now, but there's a big market just in hotels, airports, restaurants, and bars to have channels to mindlessly turn on.
Well, in the scenario I sketch out, I say that traditional-style commingled cable channel bundles will be grandfathered in for existing customers even after they stop being sold to new customers, maybe around 2027. But yeah, the exception to that will be the single remaining DBS service still going at that point (probably branded DISH, but it will be after having merged with DirecTV years earlier). But I think it's iffy as to whether that service will still even be operational past 2030. Maybe a couple years or so into that decade?

And then once we get a few years into the 30s, and everyone is watching both the major networks as well as local news stations via separate streaming apps, then what's the point of keeping OTA spectrum reserved for those local TV stations? I'm not sure the station owners will even want to spend the money on the power bills to light up those towers at that point, given how few of their viewers will even still be futzing around with OTA antennas. Everyone will have broadband and all that content (and WAY more) can just be reliably streamed online. Better for the local station owners just to put that money toward their bandwidth bills to run their local news video servers.

So at that point, the FCC and Congress will move to reclassify that spectrum as 5G/6G. ATSC 1.0 will be dead. (And ATSC 3.0 will have died in the late 20s, never having reached critical mass among consumers or the broadcast networks.) But I do think the US government will set aside a bit of spectrum (the same bit of spectrum nationwide) so that PBS stations can beam out free OTA signals via 5G Broadcast, which will emerge this decade as the global next-generation OTA TV system, capable of reaching any smart phone, TV or any other screen with a 5G radio chip built into it.

There needs to be some aggregation, but given the choice, I really have to wonder how many people will want Comcast or Charter to be doing this, versus Apple, Roku, Google, etc? The cable companies need a critical mass of users to make this viable, and the way I see things going is that people want to stream how they want to stream, not with some box from Comcast or Charter in the middle.
Does it matter? You have to use some software/app store platform "in the middle" between you and your services' video servers. And especially if Comcast and Charter are giving it away for FREE to their broadband customers (who account for nearly 70% of the US market!), then yeah, it'll get used.

"Hey, here's a free 4K Dolby Vision/Atmos streaming box you get with your broadband service! It supports all the apps you want. And if you need more than one, we'll happily rent/sell additional units to you!"

If you're thinking of their Flex platform as a "cable box," you're doing it wrong. It's just another streaming OS/UI/app store, but one that happens to be backed by two of the largest broadband providers in the nation. And it's no longer even just restricted to the equipment that Comcast hands out to their customers. They've already begun deploying it on smart TVs sold at retail under the name "XClass TV." Just as Amazon has done with their Fire TV OS, and Google with their Google TV, and Roku with their Roku OS, all of which power various brands of smart TVs. (Except there have hardly been any Flex-powered XClass TVs sold yet.)


I'll be surprised if we don't see them start selling Flex boxes/sticks at retail too. Why not?

And it's not even the local station owners, it's the networks who are charging outrageous fees to the local station owners, who then have to pass these outrageous costs on to the cable companies.
Eh, it's both. I think I read that the local stations have to pass along somewhere around half of their retrans fees to their network partners in the form of "reverse comp". But let's be honest, between the national networks, with their live sports, primetime shows, and national breaking news, versus the local news stations, which has the higher value content? It's easily the national networks. And they know it. Y'know how in a couple where one of them is way hotter/smarter/more successful than the other, it usually ends up in a break-up? Yeah, that's what's going to happen here too. The global media companies that own the networks are going to break up with their local distribution partners named Sinclair/Nexstar/Scripps/Gray, etc. The divorce is coming and it's unavoidable.
 
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