4 steps of simplifying your transition to ATSC 3.0

By Ralph Bachofen, Triveni Digital

Television broadcasters in the U.S. are in the midst of transitioning to ATSC 3.0, the NextGen TV standard powered by IP technology. ATSC 3.0 offers many exciting new opportunities, including the ability for targeted advertisements, multimedia service guides, advanced emergency communication support, addressable content delivery for more customized viewing experiences, interactive enhancements to programs or advertisements, and efficient data delivery applications. Yet, the migration will not take place overnight. It’s a gradual process that requires full-power stations to broadcast ATSC 3.0 and ATSC 1.0 signals simultaneously for at least five years.

Making the transition to ATSC 3.0 can be complex. With the following four key strategies, broadcasters can assure a smooth migration to NextGen TV.

Expertise is Essential

ATSC 3.0 is bold new territory. The standards for ATSC 3.0 are substantially different than for ATSC 1.0, and the platform is not backwards compatible. Thus, there’s a learning curve for broadcasters and viewers. That’s why working with a vendor that understands the new technologies is important. The best technology partners can help guide broadcasters through building the ATSC 3.0 technological ecosystem. They can also assist with ensuring integration with other technology suppliers in the ATSC 3.0 workflow and advise on deployment options such as cloud-based and SaaS implementation. Selecting a best-of-breed ATSC 3.0 solution will ensure flexibility. Broadcasters can determine which products work best for them as opposed to being locked into one solution from one vendor. Solutions that support streaming ATSC 3.0 from the cloud, along with a SaaS business model, will allow broadcasters to launch NextGen TV services faster, more efficiently, and at a lower total the cost to market by eliminating CapEx.

Dual Architecture Support is a Must

Full-power TV broadcast stations are required to provide ATSC 1.0 signals for at least five years, per FCC requirements, but it’s likely that some stations will be broadcasting both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 for even longer. Implementing a dual-standard operational workflow is a must for any broadcaster transitioning to NextGen TV. Choosing a vendor that supports both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 will help simplify the management of program guide information, emergency alerts and updates, as well as ensure superior service quality.

Ease of Use is Critical

The ATSC 3.0 environment is new and complex. Having service quality assurance equipment that is efficient, cost-effective, and simple to use can impact whether a station’s transition to NextGen TV goes smoothly.

Broadcasters need to be able to quickly detect, isolate, and resolve issues with the complex new broadcast technology. Replacing analyzer hardware with software applications can eliminate additional equipment in the field and reduce broadcasters’ OpEx.

Reliable Service and Support is Necessary

As mentioned in the previous section, the complexities of ATSC 3.0 far outweigh ATSC 1.0. Having world-class technical support will help broadcasters integrate ATSC 3.0 products into their operations and solve ecosystem issues. Deep knowledge of the broadcast environment and ecosystem is crucial. A U.S.-based support team is also an advantage, as this will ensure broadcasters have instant access to the product engineering teams when needed for more complex issue resolution.

Conclusion

After years of development, the ATSC 3.0 standard is now being deployed, and it promises to deliver an even more exciting and interactive television experience to viewers than what’s available today. As stations transition to NextGen TV, they can simplify the process by working with a technology vendor that has a comprehensive understanding of the ATSC 3.0 environment, offers dual-standard solutions, user-friendly equipment, and world-class support. Sinclair and Pearl TV, a business organization comprised of more than 220 network-affiliated TV stations, are examples of broadcasters already making a successful transition by following these four strategies.