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All ATSC 3.0 will do is let stations pack more channels into their frequency allocation. Which they will do, because those extra channels will be to sell more ads.

It's the same premise that HD Radio was supposed to offer to FM stations. Instead, stations used it as a method ot sell more ads.
Some of the public radio stations have made good use of HD Radio, but commercial stations have been :confused:
 

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All ATSC 3.0 will do is let stations pack more channels into their frequency allocation. Which they will do, because those extra channels will be to sell more ads.
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.
 

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All ATSC 3.0 will do is let stations pack more channels into their frequency allocation. Which they will do, because those extra channels will be to sell more ads.

It's the same premise that HD Radio was supposed to offer to FM stations. Instead, stations used it as a method ot sell more ads.
Radio=Apples and TV=Oranges
 

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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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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.
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.
 

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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!!
 

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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!!
No, this won't work. Tivo and other ATSC 1.0 DVRs already have decoded the signal and record that data. They do not record the raw signal (which is what would be needed to extract 3.0 from the frequency, ignoring any sampling issues etc.).
 

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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 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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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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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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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
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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.

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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. There are people who can't/won't use antennas and don't want to make a hobby of just getting TV. 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.
 

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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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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.
 
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