The ATSC 3.0-Dominant Media World: Less Disruptive Than 5G?


ATSC 3.0 and 5G are two emerging technologies set to roll out across the U.S. over the next three to five years, likely disrupting the entire media and entertainment landscape. While many of us postulate the wide-ranging effect these technologies will have on the broadcast media industry, we rarely actively plan for it until that change is upon us. Even more rarely do we attempt to discuss it cross-functionally within our organizations—or beyond their walls.

Recently, a group led by media consultancy Magid; FOX; and 20th Television; in collaboration with the Council for Research Excellence (CRE); aimed to do just that. 


By Mike Bloxham and Debbie Reichig

Envision a future with one of the two possibilities.

An ATSC 3.0-dominant world would allow broadcasters to maintain an advantage over tech companies, preventing them from monopolizing the industry. Live and event programming would remain a broadcast stronghold, forcing big tech companies to amass even more intellectual property in order to remain competitive.  

In a 5G-dominant world, big tech companies would have both the advantage and the cash reserves to succeed. In this scenario, big tech is expected to capture the rights to sports content, causing broadcasters to lose their competitive advantage in live programming, eventually fading in relevance.

Following the decline of broadcasting, the media landscape is expected to transform significantly. Extremely niche programming will dominate the industry, effectively ending the selling of networks and programs. As such, brands would depend less on media, instead utilizing data to go direct-to-consumer (DTC). This would likely generate greater concerns about consumer privacy, leading to a greater push for regulation. 

The potential for both 5G and ATSC 3.0 to reach mass adoption does exist. However, it would lead to a number of major industry shifts, most notably a proliferation of corporate consolidation, disruption in media sales, metrics, resources, and workflows, and a greater need for management, sales, and support teams to become data conversant. 

While scenario planning is traditionally undertaken within a single business looking to plan only for itself, a December 2018 session brought together a diverse group representing Wall Street, buyers and sellers of media, content creators and distributors, measurement and ad tech firms, and many more. During the session, held at Fox Networks headquarters in New York to envision the near-future of video distribution and advertising, participants collaborated across distinct but related industry sectors, collectively imagining the potential futures of 5G and ATSC 3.0 aligned with two main modes of marketing: mass targeting and one-to-one targeting. 

The Factors Examined 

  • 5G: Connecting both homes and mobile devices, providing significantly faster data speeds, ultra-low latency, cost and energy savings, higher system capacity, and connectivity across more devices and functions, 5G has already begun rolling out in the U.S. 
  • ATSC 3.0: An emerging broadcast television standard that will provide broadcast television viewers with significantly faster data speeds and transmission capacity, ultra-high-definition picture and enhanced sound capabilities, and will also include wireless versions for mobile broadcast viewing. 
  • Mass targeting: The basic foundation of the media buying and selling process as it exists today involves the selling of aggregated audiences around programs, platforms, networks, and live events. 
  • One-to-one targeting: The targeting of individuals and/or groups of individuals based on the combination of multiple data sources. 

These factors combined to create four distinct possible sets of outcomes, or scenarios.

Participants then identified key potential developments and theorized what may transpire in the next three to five years. While scenario planning is not intended to answer any question with certainty or determine the likelihood of any given scenario or combination of scenarios happening, it allowed participants in this exercise to identify a number of plausible possible futures for which their diverse organizations should prepare. 

Naturally, there are many implications and layers behind each of the points listed above. As 5G, ATSC 3.0 and other emerging technologies like AR and VR continue to deploy, market leaders, new entrants and players in between are well served by reorienting their focus to the future by exploring the scenarios that lie ahead.

In order to improve their chances of not merely surviving, but actually thriving in the future, good management demands it.




With a successful 5G rollout and advertisers more stringently pursuing one-to-one targeting, industry experts imagine this as one of many possible headlines in 2022

The white paper is available for download from Magid. 

Mike Bloxham is the SVP of Global Media & Entertainment at Magid. Debbie Reichig is the SVP of Media Research at The Walt Disney Company.