The World Series becomes the first live sports ATSC 3.0 broadcast

Image: Chris Metcalf / Flickr

The World Series was broadcast by a local Fox affiliate in Cleveland using the ASTC 3.0 Next Gen TV standards, making it the first station to use ATSC 3.0 for live sports.

Tribune Media-owned WJW-TV used the newly-standardized transmission system for the ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV standard to simulcast network and local programming as the Cleveland Indians hosted the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

The broadcast comes after the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) received an FCC experimental license to operate a full-power Channel 31 transmitter in Cleveland, which was described as a “living laboratory for broadcasters and manufacturers creating the Next Gen TV service,” according to a release.

A number of technology vendors also chipped in on the ATSC 3.0 first. GatesAir supplied an ATSC 3.0 exciter for over-the-air transmission, LG Electronics supplied ATSC 3.0 receivers and antennas, Harmonic supplied real-time encoders for HEVC video and Dolby AC4 audio, and Triveni Digital supplied signaling/announcement metadata, IP stream generation, ATSC 3.0 analyzer, and system integration support.

Participants in the trial broadcast dropped a multitude of baseball metaphors to celebrate the achievement, with Richard Friedel, 2016 chairman of the Advanced Television Systems Committee and executive vice president of networks engineering and operations at Fox, saying the test will show “the FCC and our fellow broadcasters that Next Gen TV is a grand slam home run.”

“ATSC 3.0 standards are nearing completion, and over the coming months in conjunction with partners, we expect to test real-world Next Gen TV applications like UHD TV, interactive services, targeted advertising, advanced emergency alerting, and more,” said Sam Matheny, NAB executive vice president and chief technology officer, in a statement.

Over the summer, GatesAir, LG and Zenith participated in field trials of the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer standard using the Cleveland station and were able to generate “tens of thousands of data points” demonstrating ATSC 3.0’s ability to handle 4K Ultra HD content, mobile reception, better indoor reception by fixed receivers and improved spectrum efficiency.

In April, the FCC put out a public notice seeking comment on the implementation of ATSC 3.0, though the commission has yet to issue an approval of rulemaking for the new standards.

Meanwhile, other tests of the new standards are ongoing elsewhere. In Baltimore and Washington, D.C., OneMedia is using an STA granted by the FCC to test ATSC 3.0 and “establish signal strength in an environment where content is transmitted over the same channel in the same geographical area.” According to results recently submitted to the FCC, OneMedia’s test measurements show that “‘clean’ signals are received as predicted without interference.”