This is still just someone's opinion, but his points make sense to me. I'd add
one that seems to be missing: who says that mobile users are truly interested
in "linear-live" at all, with a statistically minuscule exception of some
games? Why wouldn't people on the go more believably prefer to watch things on
demand, such as when they are not busy doing something else that precludes
My feeling is that broadcasters should indeed get serious about reaching
multiple devices with their content, but as this author puts it, not
necessarily by being "stubbornly tied to using ATSC 3.0 as its bridge to the
modern era." And more precisely, "stubbornly tied to using OTA BROADCAST as the
bridge to the modern era," is the way I would have put it.
In theory, in the sales hype, ATSC 3.0 includes all manner of other
capabilities that have nothing to do with broadcast. But it's only the live OTA
broadcast aspects of it that have gotten any attention. Sure, A/336 and A/338
also exist. But even there, they consider the live OTA broadcast as being the
"primary signal." Without that broadcast being a "primary signal," would those
standards have been needed?
He also asks what's in it for the mobile operators. More expense for phones,
with no added revenues to them.
Another example of a failed attempt that he doesn't mention is DVB-H. I think
the assumption is these attempts failed because people don't want to carry the
extra device. Is that the whole truth? I doubt it.
I get the impression that the majority of laymen, and trade scribes, believe
all this unexplained stuff about "interactive" and "on demand," even when all
they hear explained to them is OTA broadcast. There's a certain logical
disconnect that has not hit home yet. Same logical disconnect that has people
believing a one-way broadcast can give them Internet access.
Opinion: Latest U.S. Broadcast Standard Will Founder on Mobile Industry
It's already too little, too late for ATSC 3.0 to make significant impact
June 27, 2017
By Peter White, Rethink Technology Research
The newest standard in the U.S. broadcast TV sector is ATSC 3.0, which promises
to bring the broadcasters into the mobile age. The technology is still making
its way past the regulator, the FCC, but it is already too little, too siloed
and too late to make a significant impact.
ATSC 3.0 could begin being deployed by early next year. Broadcasters are eager
for the upgrade-it promises to transform over-the-air TV by delivering
broadcast content through an IP backbone that will enable local stations to
improve emergency alerting, deliver UHD content, offer video-on-demand and
Local station groups like Sinclair Broadcast Group have placed a lot of hope in
ATSC 3.0 as a bridge to the future for their companies, which have largely been
left out of the great transition to anytime, anywhere video streaming, next
generation video formats and the rise of mobile content.
"The next-gen ATSC 3.0 technology will transform how we interact with consumers
and allow us to implement value-enhancing business models as the convergence
and emergence of alternative platforms and companies proliferate," said David
Smith, executive chairman at Sinclair, earlier this year. "In anticipation of
ATSC 3.0's approval, we have been laying the groundwork for development of a
nationwide network, design of 3.0 chipsets, and will be testing single
frequency network technology and advanced business models later this summer."
Sinclair is pursuing ATSC 3.0 as the content delivery piece of a wider
mobile-first strategy, but is stubbornly tied to using ATSC 3.0 as its bridge
to the modern era. The company has offered some one million ATSC 3.0 receiver
chips to smartphone makers for free, in hopes that the technology will find its
way into consumers' smartphones and begin the process of building out an ATSC
3.0 device ecosystem.
It's very important that broadcasters get on mobile devices. Data indicates
mobile phones are the best way to reach specific consumers, like millennials,
for advertising. In fact, a recent Nielsen report found millennial viewers
aren't nearly as adverse to advertising as once thought. "Millennials are quite
open to viewing ads as long as the content they are viewing is free on their
mobile devices," according to Nielsen's 'Millennials on Millennials' report.
Mobile video delivery has been a big talking point for ATSC 3.0 proponents.
Instead of streaming content to mobile devices, broadcasters want to beam
content to mobile phones using a broadcast television and IP hybrid standard
and an ecosystem of embedded tuners that use scalable high efficiency coding
(SHVC) and layered division multiplexing (LDM).
This is the latest way for broadcasters to get their technology and content on
smartphones-earlier, failed platforms include Qualcomm's MediaFLO, Dyle TV and
TabletTV. None of these solutions have fared very well, mostly because they
required extra hardware investment for a very slim use case. Dyle TV, for
example, required users to attach a tiny TV antenna to an iPhone or iPad, but
was only able to receive content from local stations that broadcast TV using
the ATSC-M/H standard for mobile devices. Because not every station in each
market used ATSC-M/H, the service was limited to a few stations in around 40
This approach improved with TabletTV, a newer offering from Motive Television
and Granite Broadcasting. TabletTV uses a small digital tuner, called a TPod,
to transmit broadcast TV to the user's tablet. While the tuner doesn't need to
plug directly into the mobile device, users still need to carry the tuner
around with them to use the service outside the home.
While none of these solutions gained much traction among consumers,
broadcasters aren't ready to give up. Instead of forcing consumers to buy an
extra small antenna for the mobile devices, ATSC 3.0 enables those antennas to
be embedded directly into the mobile devices. But in order for the technology
to actually deliver value to viewers, it needs to be available across a wide
range of devices-not just one or two smartphone models.
Broadcasters say ATSC 3.0 will eventually become available in mainstream
consumer electronics, including smart TVs and tablets. LG debuted ATSC
3.0-enabled TV sets at CES this year and Samsung has signed a memorandum of
understanding (MoU) for ATSC 3.0 in its TV sets with a group of U.S.
There may be good reason for TV makers to include these new chips in TV
sets-particularly in South Korea, which also uses the standard-but there's
hardly any incentive for phonemakers to do so. Adding the technology could add
incremental costs to the phone itself and eat into already falling margins.
According to Sinclair, one mobile phonemaker has expressed interest in its free
chip deal. The chips Sinclair is offering are made by Saankhya Labs, and are
able to support other broadcasting standards, too, which helps broaden the use
case, though only by a little. Most other broadcasting standards put a huge
drain on batteries, so that a smartphone battery can be dead in 30 to 45
minutes of viewing. However, ATSC 3.0 is seen as converging with the broadcast
standard of Europe DVB-T2 and the two may eventually become one standard in the
next generation (if broadcast TV survives that long).
Widespread adoption by phonemakers will require ATSC 3.0 to be built into
multi-purpose communication chips, made by the likes of Qualcomm, MediaTek,
Samsung and others. It seems unlikely that this can just be enacted in software
using existing radios inside phones-although there have been some such
attempts. But before that happens, broadcasters will need to begin broadcasting
in ATSC 3.0.
Sinclair and other broadcasting groups are also interested in using ATSC 3.0 to
deliver TV services in skinny bundle-type packages. Sinclair joined Nexstar in
a MoU for the formation of a consortium that'll "explore products and services
associated with ATSC 3.0 and monetization opportunities such as spectrum
utilization, virtual MVPD platforms, multicast channels, automotive
applications, single frequency networks and wireless data applications, among
But any mobile video play will come up against the other obstacles-the wireless
carriers. Cellcos don't gain anything from the technology. Wireless providers
like Verizon and AT&T have very little reason to help broadcasters reach mobile
consumers-unless the broadcasters come with a lucrative deal to entice Verizon
or AT&T to do so, perhaps something like an Aereo-type skinny streaming TV
service, delivered to wireless customers. And any such service would likely
need to have national reach to make it worth anyone's time and use cellular
data not broadcast.
Despite the uphill battle, Sinclair is currently in the process of launching a
beta test of ATSC 3.0-delivered video services to mobile devices in a few
markets in the U.S., which focus on developing enhanced content, targeted
advertising, and mobile distribution.
This piece was republished with the permission of Peter White, the principal
analyst and founder of Rethink Technology Research Ltd.
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