This Is Only A Test: An ATSC 3.0 Watermarking Trial


An on-air test is now underway of new digital broadcasting technology that will help broadcasters tailor content to viewers and better measure audience activity.

The test is a collaboration between the Pearl TV business alliance, FOX, NBC O&O WVIT-30 in Hartford, Univision and software company Verance, whose audio watermarking solution is a key component of the ATSC 3.0 next-generation television broadcast standard.

Watermarking enables the foundational data protocol that triggers services such as interactivity, personalization and even advanced emergency alerting on televisions and other devices.

Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle commented, “One of the great benefits of next-generation broadcast TV will be the ability to customize content and merge the capability of the Internet with broadcast programming.”

Pearl TV members, along with the four aforementioned parties, are participating in the test, which involves viewers in Phoenix; Orlando; Montgomery, Alabama; and Connecticut’s state capital. “We plan to evaluate how the watermark is deployed, how it is retained from transmitter to receiver, and what information can be gleaned from the testing process,” Schelle said.

She added, “The goal is to test how watermarking can be used to power the next-generation TV across various viewing paths and devices. This test is a good example of how broadcasters that represent more than 230 stations are banding together to pave the way for deployment of ATSC 3.0. We see the emergence of watermarking technology as a key ingredient of next-generation TV in a world where advertisers and programmers are becoming more accustomed to two-way and addressable advertising opportunities.”

The testing project will eventually lead to a better consumer experience for broadcast viewers, with personalization and greater access to favorite content.

Verance CEO Nil Shah said, “The Verance solution activates broadband capabilities on broadcast content, providing viewers with advanced features uniformly across devices and platforms. This enables broadcasters to connect with millions of viewers on TV in the personalized, dynamic ways they’re accustomed to online. Compatible with today’s ATSC 1.0 broadcast system, our solution accelerates certain ATSC 3.0 features, allowing broadcasters to see early benefits while transitioning to ATSC 3.0.”

Verance has embedded its digital audio watermark in ATSC 1.0 transmissions to conduct the test.

Pearl TV is a business organization of U.S. broadcast companies with a shared interest in exploring forward-looking broadcasting opportunities, including innovative ways of promoting local broadcast TV content and developing digital media and wireless platforms for the broadcast industry.