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NextGen TV: What Viewers Need to Know About ATSC 3.0

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When American television went from analogue to digital in 2009, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) provided the digital television standard known as ATSC 1.0. The standard was originally developed in 1996. Since then there have been some updates and enhancements to ATSC 1.0. There was an ATSC 2.0 standard which was obsolete during its development and therefore never released. This brings us now where ATSC 3.0, under the brand “Next Gen TV” is finalized and is currently being deployed on a voluntary basis. In this article, I’ll cover what you need to know and how to prepare for ATSC 3.0.

What is ATSC 3.0

ATSC 3.0, also known as NextGen TV and Next Gen TV, is the latest digital broadcast standard governing the aerial television signal. The new ATSC 3.0 standards offer many improvements over the old standard, including support for 2160p 4K resolution at a rate of 120 fps, wide color gamut, high dynamic range, support Dolby Atmos and DTS-X audio support, video on demand, and mobile TV support. These features are a huge improvement on the current ATSC 1.0 standard which limits video resolution to 1080p HD at 60 frames per second, supporting Dolby Digital audio. In addition, the ATSC 3.0 standard uses Internet Protocol (IP) by merging OTA and Internet TV capabilities. This will allow the OTA signal to transmit relevant information about shows and movies found on the web. However, it also opens up the possibility of targeted TV advertising.

Like the switch from analog to digital, you won’t need a new TV antenna to watch TV on an ATSC 3.0 signal. In fact, the expression “digital television antenna” is really a marketing term. An antenna will receive both analog and digital signals very well. This 50 year old antenna on Grandma’s roof will pick up the ATSC 3.0 TV signal. However, to interpret this signal, you will need a television with an ATSC 3.0 TV tuner or an ATSC 3.0 digital converter. However, the upgrade is not urgent. While many TV markets currently broadcast ATSC 3.0, stations are required by FCC to broadcast their ATSC 1.0 signal in a similar capacity until March 2023. In addition, stations may decide to continue broadcasting their ATSC 1.0 signal beyond this date.

How to watch ATSC 3.0 TV

While many markets are releasing with the ATSC 3.0 standard, currently early adopters will see little or no improvement over the ATSC 1.0 standard. Although the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) use ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in various markets, none have currently committed to broadcast content using the new ATSC 3.0 features. This means you will see little to no 4K broadcasts if you upgrade now.

Still, if you want to be on the cutting edge of live TV, you’ll need a TV antenna and ATSC 3.0 turner. Any TV antenna will work regardless of the year it is manufactured. As I said, the editor installed on grandma’s house in the 1950s will receive a digital signal broadcast on ATSC 3.0 standard. What you will need is a tuner to decode this signal. Sony, Samsung, LG manufacture TVs supporting NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 standard with integrated ATSC 3.0 tuners. If you don’t want a new TV, you can get an external tuner like the HD Homerun Flex. However, I would advise against running out and buying a new TV or external tuner at this time. The cost of this upgrade is too high, with little benefit to be realized at this time.

Where is the ATSC 3.0 broadcast

As of June 2021, ATSC 3.0 is released in 32 markets in the United States. However, 4K broadcasts have been virtually non-existent outside of a few sporting events on an experimental basis.

  • Albuquerque / Santa Fe, New Mexico: KNMD PBS 9 | KNME PBS 5
  • Austin, TX: KTBC_ (TV) Fox 7 | KBVO-CD MyNetworkTV 14 | KTFO-CD UniMas 31 | KXAN NBC 36 | KEYE-TV CBS 42 | KNVA CW 54 | KAKW Univision 62
  • Baltimore, Maryland: WNUV CW 54 | WMPT PBS 22 | WBAL-TV NBC / MeTV 11 | WBFF Fox 45 | WMAR-TV ABC 2
  • Boise, ID: KBSE-LD EVOCA 33 | KEVA-LD EVOCA 34
  • Buffalo, NY: WGRZ NBC 2 | WIVB CBS 4 | WKBW-TV ABC 7 | WUTV FOX 29 | WNYO-TV MyNetworkTV 49 | WNLO_ (TV) CW 23
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: WAXN IND 64 | WBTV CBS 3 | WJZY FOX 46 | WSOC-TV ABC / Telemundo 9
  • Columbus, OH: WCMH-TV NBC 4 | WSYX ABC / FOX 6 | WTTE TBD 28 | WWHO CW 53
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX: KDFW FOX 4 | UNIVISION KUVN 23 | KSTR-DT UNIVISION 49
  • Denver, CO: KWGN CW 2 | KMGH ABC 7 | KUSA NBC 9 | KDVR FOX 31
  • Detroit, MI: WJBK FOX 2 | WDIV NBC 4 | WXYZ-TV ABC 7 | WMYD MyNetworkTV 20 | WWJ-TV CBS 62
  • Grand Rapids, MI / Kalamazoo, MI: WWMT CBS 3 | WOTV ABC 41 | WOOD-TV NBC 8 | WXSP MyNetworkTV 15 | WXMI FOX 17
  • Greenville, NC: WUNK-TV PBS 25
  • Las Vegas, NV: KSNV NBC 3 | KLAS-TV CBS 8 | KTNV ABC 13 | KVCW CW / MyNetworkTV 33
  • Little Rock / Pine Bluff, AR: KARZ-TV MyNetworkTV / BOUNCE / ION 42 | KLRT FOX 16 | KARK NBC 4 | KATV ABC 7 (JUNE 30, 2021 10 a.m. CDT)
  • Mobile, AL / Pensacola, FL: WEAR-TV ABC 3 | WKRG CBS 5 | WPMI NBC 15 | WFGX 35 | WJTC UTV 44 | WFNA_ (TV) CW 55
  • Nashville, Tennessee: WKRN ABC 2 | WTVF CBS 5 | WZTV FOX 17 | WUXP MyNetworkTV 30 | WNAB CW 58
  • Norfolk / Newport News / Portsmouth / Virginia Beach, Virginia: WAVY NBC 10 | WTVZ MyNetworkTV 33 | WVBT FOX 43 | WNLO-CD FOX 14
  • Oklahoma City, OK: KFOR-TV NBC 4 | KOCO ABC 5 | KOKH FOX 25 | KOCB CW 34 | KAUT IND 43
  • Orlando, Florida: WESH NBC / ME-TV 2 | WKCF CW, ESTRELLA, JUSTICE NETWORK 18 | WRBW MyNetworkTV / FOX 65 | WOFL FOX 35 | WRDQ IND, Antenna, CourtTV, Grit 27 | WFTV ABC, Laff, Court TV Mystery 9
  • Phoenix, AZ: KPHO CBS 5 | KAET PBS 8 | KSAZ-TV FOX 10 | KPNX NBC 12 | KFPH UNIVISION 13 | KNXV ABC 15 | KUTP FOX 45 | KASW CW 61 | KTVW UNIVISION 33 | KTVK 3.1 (independent), 3.2 (Comet), 3.3 (Circle), 3.4 (This TV), 3.5 (Weather now) 3
  • Pittsburgh, PA: WTAE-TV ABC 4 | WPNT MyNetworkTV 22 | WPGH-TV FOX 53
  • Portland, OR: KATU ABC 2 | KOIN CBS 6 | KGW NBC 8 | KOPB-TV PBS 10 | KPTV FOX 12[65] | KRCW-TV CW 32 | KPDX MyNetworkTV 49
  • Raleigh-Durham, NC: WUNC-TV PBS 4 | WRAL-TV NBC 5 | WTVD ABC 11 | WNCN CBS 17 | WLFL CW 22 | WRDC MyNetworkTV 28 | WUVC UNIVISION 40 | WRAZ_ (TV) FOX 50 | WARZ-CD Retro TV 34
  • Sacramento / Stockton, CA: KQCA MyNetworkTV 58 | KCRA-TV NBC 3 | KUVS-DT UNIVISION 19 | KTXL FOX 40 | KXTV ABC 10 | KOVR CBS 13
  • Salt Lake City, UT: KUTV CBS 2 | KTVX ABC 4 | KJZZ-TV 14 | KUCW CW 30
  • Santa Barbara, CA: KSBB-CD MyNetworkTV 17
  • Seattle, WA: KOMO-TV ABC 4 | KING-TV NBC 5 | KIRO-TV CBS 7 | KCPQ FOX 13 | KONG_ (TV) IND 16 | KZJO MyNetworkTV 22 | UNIVISION 51
  • Springfield, MA: WWLP NBC 22 | WFXQ-CD CW 28
  • St. Petersburg / Tampa, Florida: WFLA-TV NBC 8 | WTSP CBS 10 | WTVT FOX 13 | WFTS ABC 28 | WMOR-TV 32
  • Syracuse, NY: WSTM-TV NBC 3 | WTVH CBS 5 | WSYR-TV ABC 9
  • Tallahassee, Florida / Thomasville, GA: WCTV CBS 6 | All Tallahassee ATSC 3.0 stations broadcast on WCTV’s WNXG-LD | (CBS) channel 6.1 | (MeTV) channel 6.2 | (Circle) channel 6.3 | (ION) channel 6.4 | (Justice) channel 6.5 | (MyTV) channel 6.6
  • Washington, DC: WIAV-CD TBD 10 | WJLA-TV ABC 7

Do you need ATSC 3.0 TV

Currently not. You don’t have to rush to buy a new TV or turntable with ATSC 3.0 standard. This is the case even if you live in a television market broadcasting a signal with the ATSC 3.0 standard. You won’t realize much benefit over the current ATSC 1.0 standard. Now, if you are looking for a new TV anyway, choose a TV with the “NextGen TV” brand. Otherwise, I would wait until we were a little closer to that March 2023 date, when broadcasters are no longer required to broadcast the old ATSC 1.0 standard. However, without a mandatory end date for the old standard, these broadcasters can continue to broadcast the old standard well beyond that deadline.

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