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Tablo had expected to be launching their 3.0 compatible DVR this spring, but the current status is "delayed because of evolving DRM broadcast rights". Apparently, broadcast station owners have announced their intent to encrypt their signals. Which begs the question, why does a free OTA signal need to be encrypted? Does this signal the beginning of the end for free OTA?
 

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Yes. I have an HDHomeRun Flex 4K. And use it with my Plex DVR. But because of the AC-4 audio issue. Where the vast majority of devices cannot decode it. And with it also not working with Plex. I don't record any of the five ATSC 3.0 channels broadcast here in the DC area.

Plus, since they are all sharing the same frequency. The quality is basically the same as their ATSC 1.0 counterparts. So there would really be no advantage for me to be record the ATSC 3.0 broadcasts anyway.
For me, channel 4 (WRC)'s ATSC 1.0 signal comes from a slightly different direction than the other DC stations, and it's always been marginal. But the ATSC 3.0 version is solid.

I use Channels DVR with the HDHR, with Apple TV as the client, and I have no issues with AC-4.
 

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Tablo had expected to be launching their 3.0 compatible DVR this spring, but the current status is "delayed because of evolving DRM broadcast rights". Apparently, broadcast station owners have announced their intent to encrypt their signals. Which begs the question, why does a free OTA signal need to be encrypted? Does this signal the beginning of the end for free OTA?
Originally they were only talking about using DRM for premium OTA programming you'd have to pay for (authorized via your local tuner's internet connection) and not for all of their programming. We'll see. There's a lot of potential evil in 3.0, including privacy issues (via that internet connection). The industry and regulators are way behind in developing standards and limits for this.

As I understand it, the Silicon Dust HD HomeRun Flex 4K is ready for that DRM, but only with their own software. I don't have a lot of hope that Channels DVR will ever do the same, given that the HDHR Prime for CableCARD supports DRM channels only with HDHR software while Channels DVR only gets non-DRM channels from that device.
 

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What I read didn't indicate if that meant all of their content, or just some of it. And I didn't really dig into it. The only thing Tablo said about it was that they would have bake the decryption keys into the hardware at the factory, and couldn't do it later by firmware update. Thus the delay.

Edit: Spelling
 

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I am using a EVOCA Scout box. I live 14 miles from 4-ATSC 3.0 channels all coming from the same antenna and channel RF34. ABC and NBC are pretty solid. Fox and CW (Nexstar owned) are solid sometime and freeze and lock up at other times. Not sure what the issue is because it happened on two different EVOCA Scout boxes. I believe it might be an issue with the Nexstar stations. I have moved my Televs DigaNova Boss antenna higher and repointed it with little improvement on those two channels.

I think the picture is clearer then ATSC 1.0 but it seems more susceptible to breakup/lockup. Also I notice descriptive audio on Fox ATSC 3.0 broadcasts and no way to turn it off.

It could also be that the Evoca boxes are not as robust as some of the others on the market.

It also could be that ATSC 3.0 is experimental and not ready for prime time yet.
 

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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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Here's what the antenna guy had to say about ATSC 3.0 and encryption. As I thought, the FCC requires the main station to be broadcast in the clear. That could change, of course.

 

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Yes, but that main signal could be at 480p. Nothing says it has to be in HD. Then you would need to pay for 1080p/4K.
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.

I think we're down to 2 of the major network locals airing in 1080i here in Louisville. A couple never were. Others have downgraded to 720p in favor of more subchannels. I doubt most viewers have even noticed.
 

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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.
 

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I have 6 stations in my area broadcasting new gen signals, which include all four networks. What NextGen tuners are even available now?
I've been using an HDHomeRun Flex 4K since the beginning of the year. It has two ATSC 3.0 and two ATSC 1.0 tuners. But, here in the DC area, the 3.0 stations have the same quality as the 1.0 stations. And my Plex DVR can't work with the AC-4 audio yet. Like most devices. So there is no reason for me to record the ATSC 3.0 channels.

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.
 

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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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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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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.
Today in most markets there is a single ATSC 3.0 lighthouse transmitter (with many/most stations sharing). At some (magic) point, it is expected there will be a transition to a single ATSC 1.0 lighthouse transmitter (with all the stations sharing that). That will offer legacy TV's access to the stations content for any reasonable future, while allowing stations to move towards (glorious?) 4K (or simply more sub-channels). Fitting (say) 5 stations content into a single ATSC 1.0 transmitter will require reduction in quality (you can't fit 10lbs of crap into the 2lbs bag), but in many locations it would provide the ability to continue to serve those with older TV's until they mostly disappear. That tail may be long, but since the average age of a TV is 7-8 years, it is not forever (and in hand-waving terms, the FCC requirement of continued support of ATSC 1.0 transmitters aligns with the expected replacement cycle).
 

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They're getting ready to phase out FiOS TV entirely.
VZ has nearly pulled the plug on TV service a number of times (first nearly a decade ago), and for years now while the CSR's would still sell you FiOS TV if you asked for it, they suggested one/more of the OTTs first (I seem to recall YTTV was mentioned, but I don't remember if that was an official marketing arrangement, or just a mention).
It's not economically viable as a relatively small competitive provider.
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.

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.
 

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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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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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