CES Panel Envisions ATSC 3.0 Business Opportunities


At CES 2017 in Las Vegas this past week, industry experts weighed in on some of the many business models envisioned for the emerging ATSC 3.0 standard. Speaking at a panel entitled, “ATSC 3.0: A New Broadband Network,” executives from the broadcasting and content industries described profitable use cases for the new technology.

Chris RipleySinclair Broadcast Group CEO/President, Chris Ripley, described what he called the “key new tenets” of ATSC 3.0. “It’s a mobile-first standard,” he said, one that is compatible with existing mobile technology. “Mobile is predicted to expand dramatically,” giving further indication that delivering mobile content is high on the list of potential businesses.

“ATSC 3.0 is IP (Internet Protocol) from end-to-end, which will enable stations to seamlessly integrate “content from broadband and IP perspectives,” he said, adding that, “in ten years, all video in our industry will be IP.” (This same perspective has been a common thread in statements from other broadcasters this past year.) Ripley supported this by saying that IP “[will] provide a better consumer experience and be cheaper to produce and manage content.”

Data acquisition enabled by ATSC 3.0 will also create new advertising opportunities, he said, adding, “We think CPMs on targeted ads are two to three times current ones.”

TV Won’t Look Like Today

Ripley promised that, “ten years from now … the TV business won’t look anything like it looks like today … but our distribution system will be flexible enough to use its capacity at its highest and best use. Everything becomes possible under ATSC 3.0. It breaks the industry out of the box.”

“We’ll be able to piggyback off [Korean deployment] for receivers,” said Ripley. “When OEMs see the industry rolling out, we don’t perceive any problems with devices being available.”

Gordon castleEricsson executive Gordon Castle expanded on the mobile use case, saying, “In five years there will be twice as many smartphones, [and] “Millennials already spend 50 percent of their content viewing [time] on mobile devices.” He cautioned, however, that content on an array of devices requires a seamless experience, “delivered in the most efficient way possible.” Castle added that “we already have hybrid delivery in many countries around the world,” saying that 3.0 is a driver for 5G adoption.

aslam khadlerAslam Khader, chief product officer of Elemental Technologies, an Amazon Web Services company, said his company was set up years ago as one that “focused on a unified video infrastructure, delivering to any device anywhere.” “OTT has been difficult to conquer, but we now make it easy for customers,” he said. “We see the industry moving that way.”

Designed to replace the existing (two-decades-old) ATSC digital broadcast standard, ATSC 3.0 is based on Internet Protocol, and can deliver 4K UHD content, reliable reception on mobile devices, and improved spectrum efficiency. The increased payload capacity of the physical layer, combined with advanced HEVC video encoding provides broadcasters more technical and business options when planning their broadcast services. Most of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards has already been approved, with the remainder in the final stages of approval, expected to be completed this spring.


How quickly could ATSC 3.0 take off? When ATSC 1.0 HDTVs launched in the early 2000s, sales reached 4.2 million units in their first three years. Three years after being introduced to the market, cumulative sales of 4K UHD displays have reached an estimated 18.6 million units. Clearly, there is continuing demand for better pictures and features. With abgrowing appreciation of ultraHD content, Blu-ray disc alone will not satisfy demand, and neither will the vast population of OTT-connected viewers who have “ordinary” Internet bandwidth. This means that ATSC 3.0 could have a decided advantage in delivering content at its highest quality, unfettered by slow and balky Internet connections.

— agc

Aldo Cugnini is a consultant in the Broadcast and Digital Content industry.