A Smart IP Upgrade For OTA Television Broadcasting
ATSC 3.0 to be launched in the US, along with the next gen 5G over-the-air (OTA) broadcast standard, is set to revolutionize the digital television broadcasting. With 4K UHD content and advanced features to enable smart and interactive television viewing, ATSC 3.0 will bring in several cutting-edge services and experiences. ATSC 3.0 is already being voluntarily deployed and tested by a few broadcasters from the US.

With continued technological advancements and interactive digital media gaining prominence, it is high time television broadcasting companies adopted the Next Gen smart TV features with Internet Protocol (IP) based platform in addition to satellite based OTA transmission. Thus comes the ATSC 3.0, that is targeted to provide a unified framework enabling interactive multi-touch-point streaming, high efficiency video coding, personalized viewing, audio and video quality enhancement, separate internet-enabled content layers and many more features that will bring a revolutionary change in television industry and further improve the quality of life as well.

What Is ATSC 3.0 And How Did It Evolve To The Current Status?

ATSC is Advanced Television Systems Committee, an international non-profit that consists of broadcasters, regulators, experts, electronics manufacturers, and media agencies. It lays standards for digital television transmission over the terrestrial, cable and satellite networks. An advancement over the quarter century old analog NTSC standard, ATSC 1.0 was adopted as broadcast digital TV in early 1996.

There was a generic upgrade of existing standards with ATSC 2.0 which was about to be rolled-out, but was eclipsed even before its launch by the revolutionary ATSC 3.0. This ATSC 2.0 was simply an upgrade being backward compatible with ATSC 1.0.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized permissive use of ‘Next Generation’ Broadcast TV standard in 2017, on a voluntary and market-driven basis, alongside ATSC 1.0 to continue for the next 5 years. Thus paving the way ahead for broadcasters and marketers, to partner with software service providers bringing cloudified technological offerings, to spearhead the revolution on a profitable and value-added path.

ATSC 3.0 Features And Benefits

  • High efficiency video coding - It brings “H.265” HEVC codec, that will broadcast more video data while using fewer bits
  • Internet-enabled broadcasting - To unify broadband and broadcasting, eventually making the experience of internet based television, a wholesome one
  • Spectrum efficiency - ATSC 3.0 will deliver more bits/ Hz, also supporting flexible bit rates
  • 4K UHD TV or even 8K resolution - That is, it can support ultra-high definition resolutions (UHD) of 3840 x 2160 at 60 frames per second or even up to 120 frames per second
  • Web-enabled interactive features - That will enable personalized viewing based on the viewer interest and behavior
  • Return data path - This will enable the station to know what and when the user is watching, thus enabling targeted advertising just like Google and Facebook show currently, as seen on mobile devices
  • Free and robust second screen experience - TV viewing across devices for free, with just the tuner addition to keep the television handsets current
  • Existing television will be enabled with tuner - An external tuner may be needed and this will enable the existing ATSC 1.0 TV set to broadcast the new age TV for at least the agreed 5 years’ voluntary timeline, approved by the FCC
  • Improved reception and variety of channels for the viewers
  • Live video and text update streaming along with escape route maps for emergency.

Difference Between Various ATSC Standards

S No ATSC 3.0 ATSC 2.0 ATSC 1.0
1 Supports flexible bit rates Backward compatible with ATSC 1.0 Single bit rate (19.4 mbps only)
2 UHD and HD multicast Hybrid TV HDTV and SD multicast
3 Spectrum efficient thus more bits/ Hz Less bits/ Hz Less bits/ HZ
4 A3P digital modulation 8VSB modulation
5 High efficiency video coding with real time and non-real time delivery Advanced video compression Real time media compression (MPEG)

Downsides Of ATSC 3.0; As Perceived

  • ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with ATSC 1.0, thus an external tuner will be required, but it may not be very expensive
  • Privacy of the user in terms, advertisements will be targeted based on what user sees online, but it should not bother that much, as this is already what a user sees on Google and Facebook.

The Road Ahead - Future Of Digital Television Broadcasting In The US

Despite the road-blocks, apparent in terms transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0, the future holds immense changes in the way television viewing will be experienced. The industry sentiments and customer apprehensions would take years before this transformation takes shape. Media companies, researchers, and broadcasters are already aligned with the FCC approval for voluntary and market-driven adoption of ATSC 3.0. But, the extra cost for the tuner may be a perceived downside. Also, the existing TV sets becoming obsolete, is the much debated aspect in the current scenario. But with 5G TV concurrent to the ATSC 3.0 roll-out, digital television industry is set to grow by leaps and bounds

As the new age TV will enable Internet based and personalized advertisements, that will make data an extremely competitive aspect, probably the game changer for advertisers and marketing agencies. These will also enable a more personalized and personal experience for viewers. The watermarking system that would come along, will help resolve the piracy problem to a great deal. Thus taking new age television revolution from strength to strength, enabling high quality content to draw larger audience. The consumption of content will be through multiple touch point systems, thus digitizing the viewer experience even further. With localized content streaming, specific to the user preferences, more and more value added services will bring quality of life changes to the end users. The successful broadcaster will be the one that innovates the content, distributes it in a more engaging way, and accomplishes commercial tie-ups that increase value for the viewer. Therefore, it is high time broadcasters align with cloud based software services providers and spearhead the digital television revolution on a progressive path.

This is the most interesting time for television broadcasting industry and who knows personalized TV channels like Netflix and Hulu may station as over-the-air broadcast channels allowing super-quick streaming from local TV stations.

GAIATV 3.0 - An ATSC 3.0 Full Service Platform

GAIATV 3.0 is a leading media technology platform company, catering to all aspects of content distribution value chain by performing standard tasks including content capture, DRM, asset management, content distribution, content streaming, and STB solution. With GAIATV 3.0, it offers cutting-edge value added services and most profitable marketplace interfaces for broadcasters, to jumpstart their ATSC 3.0 journey with valuable prepositions for all stakeholders.

We bring the most advanced services and features for broadcasters, to ensure smooth and profitable on-boarding experience when it comes to ATSC 3.0. GAIATV 3.0 offers a platform suite comprising 10 SaaS products to help broadcasters and vested market players accelerate their ATSC 3.0 transition

The Road Ahead