ATSC approves next-generation TV standards

Gary Shapiro (left), president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, Sen. Gordon Smith (center), president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, and ATSC President Mark Richer (right) toast approval of the ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV Standards at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. (Business Wire)

LAS VEGAS—The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) said final member votes have approved the ATSC 3.0 suite of next-generation TV standards.

ATSC 3.0 standards are built for television broadcasters and will offer features including enhanced transmission and reception functionality, delivery of 4K Ultra HDTV, immersive audio, and interactive services using a mix of internet and broadcast connections.

“Our suite of ATSC 3.0 standards paves the way for a new kind of television service, one that is far more flexible and adaptable than previous standards. ATSC 3.0 will bring historic innovations to broadcasters and to viewers, from robust transmission to immersive audio, and from 4K Ultra-HDTV to interactive services and more. The 20 individual standards that comprise the release of ATSC 3.0 will give broadcasters the ability to utilize new transmission methods and finally bring together innovations in both over-the-air and broadband services,” said ATSC President Mark Richer in a statement.

“ATSC looks forward to continuing work on the standard, including its deployment in initial markets and future enhancements. We remain uniquely positioned to support the first trial launches of ATSC 3.0 services and products beginning this year.”

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With the finalization of the standards, 2018 becomes a year of implementation for ATSC 3.0. Broadcasters and consumer electronics companies will now set about establishing vendor partners for transmission of the new standards, use of the newly available features and functions, and availability of ATSC 3.0-compatible devices for consumers. ATSC 3.0 consumer devices likely won’t be introduced until 2019 or 2020.

At CES, Pearl TV—a consortium of broadcaster groups pushing the advancement of ATSC 3.0—along with Sony, showed off some ATSC 3.0 features, including an electronic program guide.

In a suite at the Wynn, Sony built a small RF station out of a server rack using components from companies including Ericsson and Triveni Digital. With that small set up, Sony and Pearl TV established a live ATSC 3.0 transmission that contained four different signals—a live camera feed, canned footage, sample news reports stored on Triveni’s hardware and some 4K VOD content.

From there Sony showed a mock up of a broadcaster app that allows viewers to set ad preferences—something Sony said broadcasters could eventually reward viewers for. The app also allowed for viewing VOD content and relevant deals. In one instance, a QR code popped up on the screen and when scanned with a smartphone, directed the user to discounted tickets for a Las Vegas show.

Sony and Pearl TV also hosted a demo of an ATSC 3.0 electronic channel guide, not unlike the typical grid deployed by pay TV providers. The ATSC 3.0 guide incorporated functions like embedded VOD redirects within individual programs.

The unveiling of the finalized standards and seeing ATSC 3.0 features in action got a vote of confidence from the Consumer Technology Association.

“Coupled with the latest innovations in display and audio technology, Next Gen TV, powered by ATSC 3.0, will offer a breathtakingly immersive viewing experience with access to an array of innovative and interactive information services,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, in a statement. “While we forecast sales of digital displays to increase in 2018, we anticipate future growth will be driven in part by this exciting new technology and the amazing features it brings.”