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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 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.
 
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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 2020, 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...
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.

It depends a lot on cable too, as they have become way too heavily reliant on double-dipping with retrans fees. Cable is on a long, slow decline, but the networks are still raking in billions by double-dipping. Like many other things, COVID accelerated cord cutting (I think, I'm just basing it on people moving and/or tightening their budgets, when they tend to cut the cord, I haven't really dug into the data in detail) that were already going on (supply chain issues, WFH, real estate trends based on demographics, etc). 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.

I think the more interesting question might be what is the end game for cable and cable networks? As you described at one point, channels with brands can go out on their own, what about ones that don't have strong brands or a loyal following? Do they just disappear? YouTube TV as a well targeted, lean package disappeared a few years ago when they added a bunch of junk channels to justify jacking the price up because the content providers were trying to wring every last cent out of Google for carriage fees. Now we're basically back to a $65/mo cable package via streaming, that's totally out of whack with the value proposition of even having several OTT SVOD services. The interesting part is that the numbers show a very low recapture rate for vMVPDs, which has probably gone down now with vMVPDs getting almost as expensive as MVPDs, as well as a relatively low recapture rate for moving to OTA, and I've always been skeptical of the OTA numbers, as I think most OTA users are either very occasional viewers or only tune in for a few large sporting events.

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.

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.

I keep thinking that I need to stay on topic, and then I remember where I am again. :D:D:D
 

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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).
Nice. I didn't even realize MythTV was still around!

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."
I think it depends a lot on price. If they keep getting greedier and greedier, then they're going to drive the whole market into a death spiral. If they can get the costs down and get rid of some of the forced bundling of channels, cable bundles could go on for a long time.

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.
Interesting, that makes sense, as cable's margins in those aggressive bundles are near zero. I do wonder how much they're actually making on those MVNO plays though, as they're targeting parts of the market that don't really use a lot of mobile data. I always thought of those as stickiness plays in competitive markets.

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.
I do think there's a place for a few linear channels, particularly for news content, but that doesn't necessarily mean that cable bundles will really exist in their current form. I suppose there has to be something for airports and hotels and such. I could see MSNBC being bundled with Peacock, and other channels with their respective owners to get more streaming memberships.

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.
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.

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 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.

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.
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.

Topic, schmopic. This is TCF! :D
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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.
Here's my cynical prediction. The broadcast stations are going to get to the first stage of ATSC 3.0, with shared transmitters that do a whole bunch of channels at 1080p, probably fairly heavily compressed, while keeping most of the ATSC 1.0 stations on the air. Then, cable will continue to compress the snot out of their "HD" channels that are barely HD, whether via repackaging ATSC 1.0, or re-encoding to MPEG-4, and then offer 4k versions of the networks as an upsell like they did for the Olympics, so that you have to have pay TV of one sort or another to get 4k. At least the ATSC 3.0 signals will likely be at least a bit better than ATSC 1.0.

I previously posted somewhere that OTA 3.0 and my cable look visually similar and the OTA 3.0 advantage is sound quality. Well, last night The Voice and People's Choice Awards OTA 3.0 looked noticeably clearer and better than cable.
It's going to depend on the market and the pay TV provider. ATSC 1.0 or QAM can be absolutely stunning given enough bandwidth, but they rarely are...
 

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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!
Interesting. I still like my TiVo, but we'll see what happens with ATSC 3.0. It will be nice for Beijing though, as it was for Tokyo.

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.
What's even more interesting is I saw some statistics that something like the top broadcast show today wouldn't have made 10th place if it had the same viewership numbers a decade ago.

Broadcast viewing, at least in the under-50 demo, is now dominated by sports, specials, reality/competition and 60 Minutes.
60 Minutes really got on a roll when COVID started, and they've continued to do some really interesting stories. SNL though, sort of went downhill, since their main material got voted out of the White House.

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.
Does it provide coverage benefits in hilly or heavily wooded areas? ATSC 1.0 wasn't a very good standard from a technical perspective. Also, if they all have one transmitter, they can say that they have NextGenTV without really doing much to support it.

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.
I'd suspect that it will end up being better once they work the kinks out, as it doesn't take much bandwidth to offer a better quality HEVC feed compared to the super efficient but also super compressed MPEG-2 feeds.

The whole thing increasingly has the feel to me of 3D TV or maybe HD Radio.
HD Radio is out there and working, and many cars have it, but you're right in that it doesn't generate a lot of buzz. Also, I didn't realize that they have HD Radio on AM until I got it on a ball game, but the range is terrible. I was driving back towards Hartford, and I had AM in MA, finally when I was within sight of Hartford, I picked up the HD Radio feed of the game. That was sort of interesting.

...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.
Interesting idea. Just grind out some ad money on the diginets. They could get more diginets on 3.0, but with potentially a much smaller audience, so that may not work out. I think ATSC 3.0 is going to stick a little bit more than that, but I don't think it's going to really change the whole market or be that big of a deal to most people. I would have rather just had better quality ATSC 1.0, but no one really cares about VQ anymore on any broadcast or cable.

The much lower latency of 5G is what's supposed to be the key to using it in self-driving cars.
Color me skeptical. I just don't see where it would make any sense.

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.
It seems way too niche. By the time they get such a contraption up and going, if it even works, the cost per MB of 5G will have gone down even more, and they can just use that, with Wi-Fi for software updates.
 
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Thank you. I can assure you it was a herculean effort, considering that within a 4 day period in March we did our last show in studio with a smaller than normal crew (people kept out due to possible Covid exposure), and the next Wednesday afternoon we received an email stating that we would NOT be allowed back in our production facility at all. We "crashed" (TV slang for last minute work) most of our pieces that spring with all of the story editing, graphics compositing, and show production being done from kitchen tables, kid's and guest bedrooms, basement rec rooms, and the like. Studio leads did come on green screen from an outside facility but were also composited by our graphic artist at home. We never missed a broadcast, never once compromising on content. To professionals, those first few months of shows must have looked horrendous, there were a ton of technical compromises. Most specifically editors color correcting and mixing their own pieces.
Wow, that's fascinating. I guess I just figured it was being done in studio, as it is essential work, much like industrial production continued throughout the pandemic in many areas. I didn't notice any technical compromises, but I don't really watch 60 Minutes for the production value, but for the journalism and access to unique and interesting stories. That being said, it still must be a ton of work to sift through the footage and tie it all together into a ~15 minute story.

60 Minutes was one of the few shows still producing, and much needed in that time when everyone was otherwise isolated and wanting to know about the pandemic. I thought the overall quality of 60 Minutes went up during COVID, due to some of the timely reporting being done, as well as the Zoom-not-Zoom interviews when others weren't out doing interviews like that at all.
 

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ATSC 3 sounds cool and all, but isn't it going to have the same problem we currently do, they're going to have a bunch of subchannels and the 4K video is going to look like an upscaled DVD? Streaming beats over the air and cable channels by a large margin but even it gets bested by 4k Blu-ray with a small bump in audio and picture quality.
Welcome to the cord-cutting club. It remains to be seen, there is reason to hope that ATSC 3.0 will bring significantly better picture quality due to the massively more efficient HEVC codec combined with more bandwidth available in a 6mhz channel. OTA varies widely market to market, and while the encoding technology has gotten much better and more efficient, they still cram more than they should on many channels in many markets. The encoding technology is amazing, as today 12mbps looks amazing, probably as good as a full 19mbps channel did 20 years ago, yet the channels have gone down to 6-9mbps per channel in many cases due to sharing channels and then cramming in subchannels on top of that.
 
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The encoding is much better than ancient MPEG2, but the HEVC encoding ATSC 3.0 uses is already outdated. It came out way back in 2013. Even more efficient codecs are in use now (like AV1) with some of the streaming services.
It's still supposedly 4x the efficiency of MPEG-2, which also allows for larger stat mux groups that provide better PQ in the same relative amount of bandwidth.

That is the concern though. Regardless of how good the codec is, they're still going to be the incentive for them to cram as many channels in as they can before they get enough complaints.
To an extent, yes, but I'm hoping that the better efficiency, slower degradation, and larger stat mux groups that HEVC allows for will result in better VQ.

There are numerous studies and anecdotal evidence that most people don't care about picture quality, as long as the sound is decent. As long as you can understand the audio and it's without distortion, image quality be damned.
Yes, unfortunately most people are utterly oblivious to that which is right in front of them, both audio and video. Most people also have TVs running on default settings, are too small to achieve the correct viewing angles based on THX specification (or any other specification for that matter), are too high off the floor, or have a myriad of other problems.
 

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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.)
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. I don't think broadcasters would purposefully move to ATSC 3.0 as fast as possible just to cut more people off OTA, but if anything that's what the business incentive would be, as they're making a TON of money by double-dipping on retrans fees as opposed to only getting paid once for their OTA feed.

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.
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.

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.
They're getting ready to phase out FiOS TV entirely. It's not economically viable as a relatively small competitive provider. The legacy MSOs have a longer tail to milk with the bulk of the older, less sophisticated customer compared to Verizon FiOS. Verizon also isn't a monopoly with FiOS, so the TV isn't viable in the long term. Their business is selling internet connectivity and bundling it with wireless and maybe home phone for whomever still has that.
 

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TV service is not especially profitable for any of the operators, as much of the revenue that comes in goes out to the content providers. While VZ generally cannot get the deals that the larger operators can, even the larger operators are getting squeezed as content providers ask for more and more and more.
Comcast makes money if they break even on TV, as a fraction of the carriage and retrans are going to themselves in NBC.

What TV service has to offer to an operator is revenue. And that drives market valuation. And that drives lower borrowing and operating costs. And, of course, market valuation drives C level salary and bonuses. As most of VZ's revenue is in other areas than TV service, dropping TV service will not make much of a dent in overall market valuation. To some extent the same would be true for Comcast. Charter, on the other hand, would probably take a larger hit. Eventually all expect to be an ISP first.
The market is rather dumb if they aren't making any money off of it. Comcast is in a much better position than Charter because of NBC. Comcast has incentive to sell TV at cost just to prop up revenue to NBC, which has a massive profit margin, especially compared to the small margins that Comcast makes off of cable TV.
 

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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.
But what does cable carriage of an ATSC 3.0 vs ATSC 1.0 feed even mean? ATSC are OTA broadcast standards, some cable companies take the ATSC 1.0 feed and dump two of them onto a QAM, but they could just as easily take fiber feeds from well before the OTA encoding and transmission process, and do their own encoding, so that they wouldn't be broadcasting either OTA feed, and the whole concept becomes irrelevant. A carriage contract could be contracted for various supersets or subsets of OTA programming depending on what the station and cable company want to do. The only time I'd see it being relevant at a contractual level would be for must-carry stations like PBS, and even then the technical details of OTA broadcasting are largely irrelevant, they'd be carrying a specific set of channels that are broadcast on one license or another, but not necessarily using the encodes for OTA.

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).
Exactly. Or, more likely, the station will send a big, fat 1080i/720p stream via fiber to the MVPD, who will compress the crap out of it, but the compression is more efficient with the higher bitrate feed.

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 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. I do agree about antennas though, as they are already largely relegated to some live sports and news. I think we'll still have OTA in a decade, but why invest in a relatively dying medium, unless the goal with ATSC 3.0 is just to load up on subchannels of catalog content and grind out a CPM with advertising. I've always been skeptical of 4k OTA becoming widespread, why would the networks spend the money when they can charge MVPDs money for retrans for them, and later move that to their network's OTT services? I think we may just get stuck at the first phase of the ATSC 3.0 "transition" with the 1.0 stations all staying around, and the room that there is available for the first phase of 3.0 either having a bunch of stations sharing channels, or incomplete offerings in a given market with a bunch of extra subchannels crammed in.
 

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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.
I suppose, but I don't see this as having much to do with ATSC 3.0, as it could just as well cover a 4k feed that's not broadcast, like was done for the Olympics, or a higher bitrate 1080i/720p fiber feed as has been done for years with DirecTV for some stations, and probably cable as well.

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.
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.

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.
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.

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.
Much like the cable channels, they have been too greedy for too long. If they would get the retrans fees under control so that cable companies could offer basic cable for $10/mo along with internet, they would have far more eyeballs on their ads, but they are too greedy to see cable companies as their partners and doing the work of distribution for them, and instead see them as a vessel to try and extra as much money out of as possible. 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.
 

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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.
I could see MSOs phasing cable channel bundles out at some point, I think they will live on in some form via vMVPDs and DBS for commercial and other uses. There needs to be CNN for airports and hotel TVs and ESPN for restaurants and bars. There are various satellite services out there for other types of specialty distribution, whether audio or video, so something will either continue on, or pop up to meet that need. I do think the days of DirecTV offering 400 channels is limited, although DirecTV as a linear pay TV service could live on in a more limited fashion with fewer satellite positions for decades.

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.
That's a good question. It depends on the legal status of either requiring them to broadcast, or using the broadcast towers as a mechanism for carriage on... well, on what if the marketshare of linear pay TV continues to crater. So it remains an open question.

So at that point, the FCC and Congress will move to reclassify that spectrum as 5G/6G. ATSC 1.0 will be dead.
It may be able to be used for something, but 5G wireless isn't practical much below 600mhz, the antennas for that are already getting comically large. I'm sure someone will find something (or many things) that they want to do with that spectrum.

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.
I just don't see most people wanting their cable company providing their streaming box.

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.

I'll be surprised if we don't see them start selling Flex boxes/sticks at retail too. Why not?
It's not a cable box, it's a crappy, pathetic, and irrelevant rip-off of a Roku or Google TV. The cable companies have no purpose except to provide a DOCSIS signal and IP address once you get rid of linear TV.

They probably will, it doesn't mean people actually want a crappy overpriced knock-off of a Roku from their cable company that they hate.

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.
I saw some numbers, and it's shocking how much of the money went to the networks. I'm not saying that stations themselves haven't gotten a bit greedy, they have, but the fundamental problem here is the networks wanting absolutely outrageous amounts of money. And for what? They keep producing content that gets less viewership, but charging more for it. It's all short-term thinking. They are milking it for all its worth. Maybe it's smart because it can't survive in the long run anyway, so may as well take it down a little faster by milking the cow as hard as possible, but in the process they're hastening the demise of pay TV and even basic cable, which would be viable for a long time to come with a rational model where cable companies paid little to nothing for the content, and in return provided widespread distribution at a reasonable cost.
 
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