The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced late last week that it has adopted the name “NEXTGEN TV” and accompanying logo program to help identify forthcoming new television sets and devices that will be enabled to receive ATSC 3.0 over-the-air digital broadcasts.

The naming program preceeds the formal startup of ATSC-3.0 IP-enabled broadcast transmissions that are expected to begin in 2020.

The announcement came as part of the CTA’s coordination efforts between broadcasting companies, device manufacturers and standards engineers during the association’s Technology & Standards Fall Forum in Los Angeles. There attendees where shown the new NEXTGEN TV logo that will be available for qualifying devices that meet ATSC 3.0 interoperability test specifications, the CTA said.

In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to allow broadcasters to use the ATSC 3.0 (now known as NEXTGEN TV) standard on a voluntary basis. Stations electing to begin transmitting using the standard must arrange to simulcast programming from another station’s facilities using the current DTV standard.

Unlike the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting a decade ago, the FCC is allowing broadasters a lot of flexibility in when and how to begin. This is expected to result in broadcasts appearing on a market by market basis rather than on a nationwide basis at one time. This will help broadcasters find which features and services to deploy to be of greatest service in various markets as well as to ease the huge transition expenses incurred in the process.

Select broacast stations and companies have been testing ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in various cities across the country for the past two years, with the intention to have U.S. television affiliates in various markets begin widespread commercial deployment of NEXTGEN TV in 2020.

The new technology standard will deliver “improved picture and audio and enhanced content and interactivity for viewers with NEXTGEN TVs,” the CTA said.

“The NEXTGEN TV name and logo are the products of teamwork and innovation across sectors – from U.S. broadcasters to global tech device manufacturers to ATSC leadership,” stated Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Ten years after the U.S. Digital TV transition was complete, we’re about to begin another national, over-the-air television transition. And with this logo, consumers can easily tell which devices deliver the upgrades and interactivity NEXTGEN TV can provide.”

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The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) asked CTA to lead the ATSC 3.0 nomenclature and logo development effort, the CTA said. The Association’s Video Division Board approved the NEXTGEN TV name and logo for consumer technology products after multiple rounds of consumer research and extensive industry collaboration, the association said. Qualifying ATSC 3.0 devices will include 4K Ultra HD TVs, gateway receivers and portable devices, some of which are expected to appear at the CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January.

Because of the potential for a market-by-market rollout, it’s expected that one of the more popular ways to get NEXTGENTV receivers into homes is via tuner “dongles” and set-top boxes that can be added onto digital televisions on, in or coming to market without an integrated tuner solution.

The CTA has received the support of other participating developing organizations including the National Association of Broadcasters, Pearl TV and participating companies.

“Broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and consumer technology companies all worked together to create this next-generation TV standard,” said Madeleine Noland, president, ATSC. “We are delighted to link arms to promote the new NEXTGEN TV logo and grateful to ATSC members, NAB and CTA for collaboratively developing the conformance program that will ensure consumers enjoy the many powerful new features that will enhance their TV viewing.”

Gordon Smith, president and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters: “NAB proudly endorses the NEXTGEN TV logo. Broadcasters are committed to NEXTGEN TV technology that enhances the TV viewing experience with better picture quality, immersive audio and improved public safety features. We salute our consumer technology partners and look forward to NEXTGEN TV sets on store shelves next year.”

Anne Schelle, managing director, Pearl TV: “Pearl’s member companies are excited about the 2020 launch of NEXTGEN TV on our stations – and it’s clear TV viewers will be excited, too. Our research shows a majority of U.S. consumers like the new NEXTGEN TV logo and what it conveys, and 42% say they’re likely to purchase a TV to enable NEXTGEN TV features.”

John Taylor, senior vice president, public affairs, LG Electronics USA, Inc.; and chairman, CTA Video Division Board: “Simply put, NEXTGEN TV is the future of television. The new CTA logo will support our industry’s launch of ATSC 3.0-enabled products, as broadcasters launch NEXTGEN TV services with the ATSC 3.0 standard in 2020 and beyond.”

In addition, the CTA said that to develop the certification and conformance testing specifications for the NEXTGENTV logo program, CTA said it “worked with numerous parties including Eurofins Digital Testing to provide a suite of new test materials and management services.”

Just how quickly the NEXTGENTV broadcasting will be implemented across the country is expected to be a measure of how quickly competition builds in the marketplace. Most of the major national broadcasting networks, such as CBS, NBC and ABC are working on new streaming app initiatives to catch the wave of over-the-top streaming services and devices to get their programming to viewers.

The cord-cutting phenomenon is bringing renewed attention to the ability to receiver free over-the-air broadcast stations to today’s digital television sets, but for a range of reasons including cost, location and apathy, a lot of consumers have not yet discovered this benefit.

The NEXTGENTV broadcasts, when they arrive, will also require an antenna to receive signals, but the standard has been developed to be more robust, such that signals will more deeply penetrate certain structures and artifaces that have prevented indoor TV reception in the past. The signals can also be optimized for reception in moving vehicles and by mobile devices.

In addition, the platform was developed to integrate components of internet-delivered video services to bring about new forms of interactivity, and in time conditional access for premium services. The system also allows broadcasters to deploy 4K Ultra HD broadcast signals with high dynamic range along with advanced digital surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos, although if or how those are ultimately delivered will be up to the discretion of each broadcast station.

One thing NEXTGENTV is up against as broadcasters move forward is the rollout of new 5G cellular services that will provide significant bandwidth and speed improvements to support a competing video distribution platforms that could potentially support up to 8K video content. But that will have to contend with the free OTA delivery.

By Greg Tarr

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