Call them competitors. Call them united in their goal to bring ATSC 3.0-powered television programming, 24/7, to the Rose City.
Meredith Local Media and Nexstar Media Group on Thursday jointly announced plans to launch the first NEXTGEN TV service in Portland, Ore., DMA No. 22 in the U.S.
It’s a promise that will see local viewers get improved audio and video, while the broadcast TV companies can start the process of bringing the much-desired addressable advertising it needs to compete with local digital solutions.
And, their efforts come alongside efforts taken by Sinclair Broadcast Group and TEGNA that will usher in the commercial transition of the Portland market to ATSC 3.0. The four companies have each filed applications with the FCC for ATSC 3.0 facilities.
Meredith, Nexstar, TEGNA and Sinclair are members of the Pearl TV business group, whose members are collaborating to build out ATSC 3.0 station launches in the nation’s Top 40 television markets. Nexstar and Sinclair are also partners in SpectrumCo, which is working to develop new revenue opportunities for broadcasters in key markets.
Meanwhile, PBS giant Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) will be filing an application regarding its participation in the transition “in the near future.”
It’s a marked difference from the siloed rollout of HD Radio seen by commercial and noncommercial radio broadcasters in the 2000s, which has largely flopped.
What stations in Portland are getting the NEXTGEN TV treatment?
Meredith is using KPDX-49, the MyNetwork TV affiliate, while Nexstar has selected KRCW-32, the CW Network affiliate in the market, as host stations.
Pending FCC approval, KPDX intends to broadcast NEXTGEN TV signals for its MyNetwork programming, for FOX (from Meredith’s KPTV-12), and NBC (from TEGNA’s KGW-8). KRCW is planning to broadcast NEXTGEN TV signals for its CW network programming, CBS (from Nexstar’s KOIN-6) and ABC (from Sinclair’s KATU-2) programming in the NEXTGEN TV standard. Both of the new NEXTGEN TV stations also plan to broadcast certain PBS programming, in cooperation with OPB.
In addition, the stations plan to make available “hundreds of hours of non-network, local programming on NEXTGEN TV.”
Meredith Local Media Group President Pat McCreery said, “For more than 115 years, Meredith has been an innovator in the media industry. We’re proud to lead the charge on NEXTGEN TV and thank our Pearl and network partners for all of their efforts.”
Nexstar EVP and Chief Technolog Officer Brett Jenkins said, “This transition in the Portland market is a significant milestone on the road toward full deployment of NEXTGEN TV. This is the next step, beyond experiments and trials, as broadcasters move forward with actual commercial deployments of NEXTGEN TV in 2020. Nexstar is excited to be a part of this cooperative effort. It demonstrates that the entire industry is driving forward with technology that will bring new benefits to our viewers and additional opportunities for growth across the entire television industry.”
Anne Schelle, Managing Director of Pearl TV, called the Portland rollout “significant,” as it includes each of the six major broadcast networks.
“We’ve learned a lot from the ongoing work being done in the Phoenix, Arizona Model Market, and the expansion in Portland will be the first market to learn from the experience in Arizona,” she said.
Using various channel sharing arrangements, the Portland NEXTGEN TV market participants intend for all existing ATSC 1.0 streams to remain “on the air” in ATSC 1.0 after the transition with the same “virtual channel” numbers — the channel numbers most familiar to viewers.
Details about specific launch dates, initial consumer feature offerings and technologies will be shared following FCC approval.
— Reporting by Walter Bott, in Portland, and Adam Jacobson, in Los Angeles