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Why ATSC 3.0 Matters

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Learn more about ATSC 3.0 at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Madeleine Noland: So, why ATSC 3.0? Well, think about ATSC 1.0, when it was developed, when it was put forward. Thinking about other types of technologies that we had at that time, we had Windows 3.1 computers, big CRT monitors. We had cell phones which were about the size of a Buick, on 2G, analog, cell phone carriers. And we had dial-up modems, which were doing a whopping 19 Kilobits per second of data throughput. So this is the era that ATSC 1.0 was developed. You can envision how broadcasters today would think to themselves, "Okay. We have a brand new world of media here, which has been developing around us for two decades. And we need to be able to do all of the new things and bring all of the new experiences to consumers because the marketplace has changed dramatically. But not only do we need a new system that allows us to do all these things--4k, HDR, wide color gamut , better audio, advanced emergency messaging, better captions, all the different things that we want to do--but we also need a platform that is more flexible so that we can evolve over time, rather than having a one system that comes online. And then, gee, 20 years from now, we're going to do a new system. No, no, no, we can't do that anymore. We have to go as fast with our development as streaming providers can go."

I don't know how often some of the major streaming providers may update their apps, but I imagine it's pretty often. Every time I launch one of my major streaming providers on my smart TV, it sits there for a while before it actually comes up. And I'm thinking to myself, "Yeah, it's checking for updates." So it's practically constant.

So what we, what we wanted to do with ATSC 3.0 was to have a major upgrade to the 1.0 system, which is a couple of decades in the past. And we wanted something that we can do changes to over time to make it better and better all the time and keep up with the marketplace changes.

So those are the main things, but of course we want better pictures. We want better audio. We want to be able to reach a wide variety of devices. And a couple of the huge changes that we made were that, one, it's an IP-based system for the first time. So this was the first television system on the planet, which is based on internet protocol. And that allows us to do all kinds of interesting hybrid things between over-the-air and streaming. And we look at organizations like News-Press & Gazette, and they have all kinds of content, which is available across all kinds of platforms. And this is an opportunity for this kind of content to be provided over the air, over the top, over the cable, over the whatever, and have all of those things happen in a much more efficient way.

So we're pretty excited about the platform and, ATSC is plowing forward, as we continue to improve it. But at the same time, the broadcasters are busy launching ATSC 3.O and they're starting with some of the features. And we imagine that more and more features that the current standard provides for will come online over time.

And, meantime, ATSC is trying to stay ahead of the curve so that when the broadcasters want a feature, it's already designed and ready to go. We're pretty excited about next-gen TV, and 2020 was a great year, surprisingly, despite all of the challenges. And I think 2021 is going to be even more exciting.

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