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New broadcast TV standard put on a fast track

Pearl TV, a consortium of US broadcasters operating more than 820 TV stations, said that it is making progress with hardware and software that aims to accelerate the rollout and adoption of ATSC 3.0, the new broadcast TV signaling standard that's been branded as "NextGen TV."

Pearl TV has hooked up with chipmaker MediaTek on a reference design for smart TVs and other devices that support the new standard. On the software front, the consortium has formally introduced RUN3TV, a web-based platform that enables broadcasters to deliver interactive and on-demand apps and services over ATSC 3.0.

NextGen TV is the consumer brand for the ATSC 3.0 broadcast signaling standard. 
  (Source: Advanced Television Systems Committee)
NextGen TV is the consumer brand for the ATSC 3.0 broadcast signaling standard.
(Source: Advanced Television Systems Committee)

Both announcements come ahead of next week's NAB Show in Las Vegas, where developments tied to the new, IP-based standard – which supports 4K video, enhanced audio and interactive apps – are expected to take center stage. Pearl TV's members include Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Graham Media Group, Hearst Television, Nexstar Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tegna.

The ATSC 3.0 reference design – billed as the "FastTrack to NextGen TV" platform – includes a TV system-on-chip (SoC), ATSC 3.0 demodulators and a software stack. It will be pre-certified for compliance with the Consumer Technology Association's (CTA's) NextGen TV logo requirements, A3SA security (which uses IP-based encryption protocols, device certificates and rights management technology) and the RUN3TV application platform.

Driving device volume

The hope is that the reference design will open up the market for lower-cost ASTC 3.0-based TVs and drive more volume into the NextGen TV ecosystem. MediaTek already provides TV SoCs to about 90% of all TV brands, according to Pearl TV and the chipmaker. The program stems from a partnership between them announced in January.

About 70 TV models from Samsung, Sony and LG Electronics support ASTC 3.0 today, with Hisense on deck to build sets that utilize the new standard. More than 100 TV models are expected to support ATSC 3.0 by later this year, Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV, recently told Light Reading.

The CTA expects NextGen TV sales to double this year, rise by 75% in 2023 and then double again in 2024.

Tuned to interactivity

The official launch of RUN3TV brings to market a web platform that supports interactive apps delivered via ATSC 3.0, such as targeted advertising, weather widgets, live sports scores, TV-based commerce and enhanced emergency alerts. It is arriving on the scene as the deployment of the new standard reaches about 60 markets.

Pearl TV is launching the RUN3TV platform through a subsidiary, ATSC 3.0 Framework Alliance LLC, with development partners that include Kineton, MadHive, IBM Weather, Freewheel (the Comcast-owned ad-tech company) and Google. Gray Television, The E.W. Scripps Company, Graham Media, Tegna, Hearst and Howard University's WHUT are among the platform's early adopters.

WDIV-TV in Detroit is an early adopter of RUN3TV. It's using the platform to run interactive applications, including one that enables viewers to stream from a catalog of recent news stories when accessing the station's live, linear feed. For more detail of apps operating on RUN3TV, please check out this video.
 
(Source: Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). Used with permission.)
WDIV-TV in Detroit is an early adopter of RUN3TV. It's using the platform to run interactive applications, including one that enables viewers to stream from a catalog of recent news stories when accessing the station's live, linear feed. For more detail of apps operating on RUN3TV, please check out this video.
(Source: Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). Used with permission.)

"With NextGen TV and RUN3TV, broadcasters can now bring the OTA environment into the digital world," Schelle said in a statement.

The reference design and interactive platform are coming together amid an ongoing expansion of ATSC 3.0. It's expected that NextGen TV will cover about 82% of all US households by the end of 2022. Large markets set for launches later this year include Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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