Among the interesting trends to come out of the recent NAB Show this week was the acceleration of digital rights management tools associated interactive content for NextGen TV as well multichannel cable/satellite/telco transmission.

Among the announcements in this regard was news that content measurement and enhancement systems developer Verance has reached an agreement with LG Electronics to implement new Verance digital watermarking technology in LG NextGen TV-ready sets that are expected to enable reception of new interactive experiences via programs delivered by cable, satellite or antenna reception.

Verance said that starting this spring, dozens of 2022 and 2021 LG NextGen TV tuner enabled TV models will receive a firmware update to add this “Verance Aspect” watermark technology.

LG has been adding NextGen TV tuning to select premium 4K and 8K TV series models, including screen sizes ranging from 55-to 97-inch class sizes.

The digital watermarking capability will provide broadcasters and content rights holders with tools to trace and monitor usage of content, including encrypted premium content that some stations will be looking to implement to use portions of their ATSC 3.0 bandwidth for premium content they can offer to generate incremental revenue opportunities over the public airwaves supplemented with IP streaming.

Verance said LG NextGen TVs, cable networks and regional sports networks will be able to use the watermarking tech to “join local TV stations and national networks in planning to bring interactive capabilities to the living room.”

The company said two-way interactive capabilities of NextGen TV will soon begin to expand to additional households, enabling consumers to receive more customized and localized experiences, enabled in part by watermarking tools.

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According to the company’s announcement, new interactive opportunities on the horizon include:

  • Sports Interactivity: personalized screens for the teams and players that individual viewers care about – track stats in real time and monitor individual fantasy teams
  • Hometown Announcers: change the audio announcer on favorite sports teams – listen to Joe Buck, Peyton Manning or a local announcer
  • Watch Party: connect with friends, chat live while watching together, interact with votes, polls and trivia questions
  • Personalized News & Weather: engage with a personalized news experience customized with news and weather for your local neighborhood
  • Show Extras: access bonus content related to the show you are watching –
    access extended scenes, actor interviews and post-show recaps at the click of a button

“The Verance Aspect watermark provides a high-performance, commercial implementation of the ATSC A/334 audio watermark standard. LG is the first to launch watermark detection commercially in tandem with major broadcasters deploying the watermark across the United States, bringing enhanced ATSC 3.0 capabilities to 2022 and 2021 LG NextGen TV sets,” the company said.

The watermark detection process allows the information required for two-way next-generation services in a connected smart TV set to pass through any distribution environment seamlessly, including over HDMI links and through existing distribution equipment and set-top boxes, Verance explained.

“Without watermarking, viewers receiving television service via cable, satellite and over-the-top distribution paths (over 80% of U.S. households) will be unable to receive ATSC 3.0 interactive services,” according to the company.

Matthew Durgin, LG Electronics USA’s Senior Director of Smart TV Partnerships, said, “Working with Verance, LG will create new options for NextGen TV interactive services for national networks and local stations as well as cable networks and regional sports networks, all bringing the possibility of a host of new interactive services for consumers across the country.”

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By Greg Tarr

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