NATPE MIAMI: Making The Most Out Of ATSC 3.0


MIAMI BEACH — What is ATSC 3.0? What does it mean for the consumer, and the broadcaster?

Simply put, the next-gen broadcast TV standard has the power to “drive a broadcast revenue renaissance,” and that was just one of the focal points in a NATPE Miami panel discussion held Wednesday afternoon featuring several key TV executives involved in the rollout of what could be a game changer for UHF and VHF stations across the U.S.

Speaking on the panel titled “Making the Most out of ATSC 3.0,” Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle said that one of the consortium’s key goals was “ensuring that premium content going out over the air needs to be protected.”

This refers to the increasingly rapid way consumers are watching long-form content — via smartphones, tablets and other on-the-go devices, allowing them to watch what they want wherever and whenever they choose.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Vice Chairman David Amy says mobile availability of next-gen digital TV signals is an important aspect of ATSC 3.0’s rollout. Much like FM chips in smartphones, the ATSC wants the smartphone to be capable of receiving local TV signals.

At the same time, ensuring MVPDs and their many consumers don’t lose signals due to retransmission consent disruption is a key task for Sinclair and other broadcasters. What ATSC 1.0 does today and what ATSC 3.0 can do in the future depends on it, he notes.

“You see a lot of MVPDs objecting the rollout, with a lot of fear,” Amy says.

But he adds, “We have to take care of 1.0. We’re not going to sacrifice that.”

The comments were made during a Station Group Forum that was lightly attended, compared to the standing-room-only sessions seen prior at NATPE Miami, where discussion of ATSC 3.0 was scant. The bulk of the talk was all about the digital disruption, and how the “GAFAN” monster from Silicon Valley is an invader from the North attacking Hollywood.

Once the word gets out on what ATSC 3.0 can do, the tide will turn, broadcasters and digital executives opine.

SmithGeiger EVP Andrew Finlayson says, “TV will have one-click buying. Think about that.”

On that note, Lew Leone, VP/GM for FOX-owned WNYW-5 and WWOR-9 in New York, bemoaned the “antiquated” ad buying methods used by TV, and the inefficiency they largely bring.

In response to a question from RBR+TVBR about why ATSC 3.0 was not a topic of discussion in well-attended panels on Tuesday featuring Nielsen executives and, earlier, key Wall Street financial analysts, McDermott Media Group CEO Deb McDermott explains, “Wall Street has a quarterly focus. Analysts are just now asking questions, and they are all about the business model. We can’t just define that yet. But, we believe our business will have some great opportunities. They aren’t just quantifiable yet.”

Vubiquity EVP/Marketing & Content Strategy Michele Edelman agrees.

The Los Angeles-based tech exec, previously VP/Worldwide Direct to Consumer Marketing in the Home Entertainment Division of Warner Bros. Studios, responded to RBR+TVBR‘s query about next-gen TV during her Thursday morning presentation at NATPE Miami by saying, “It’s really going to change things.”

These comments came following a presentation that was largely glowing for digital video distributors from the likes of YouTube to Netflix, and for attention-grabbing apps such as Pokémon Go, a cultural phenomenon for a period in 2016.

Thanks to addressable advertising, Edelman believes ATSC 3.0 could draw viewers back to the “big screen” of a UHD 4K television. She says, “ATSC 3.0 will be the driver for bringing the TV screen back to prominence, shifting from digital OTT disruption.”

That’s also significant for many of Vubiquity’s clients, which are active in the MVPD space as cable channel owners.

While they may be safe today, the 10-year forecast could be blurry. Then again, what’s old is new again — just in a different form, Edelman notes.

“Go back 15 years to 2003. You had ‘Must-See TV’ Thursday nights on NBC,” she says. “Today, that’s called ‘binge watching’.”