- ATSC 3.0 is not backward-compatible with older TVs, but the Pearl TV broadcast coalition has a plan to fix that.
- A new initiative intendeds to motivate manufacturers to develop “low-cost upgrade accessory receivers” that would make any television with an HDMI port able to receive NextGen TV programming.
- If manufacturers get with the program, consumers will be able to take advantage of more content options, higher resolution video, better audio controls, and more.
When a new technical standard is rolled out, industry observers immediately start fretting about adoption rates. ATSC 3.0 was no exception.
Approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2017, many broadcasters have begun to experiment with the possibilities of NextGen TV. However, the standard is not backward compatible, meaning no TV sets manufactured before 2020 could access a NextGen TV signal.
Plans are in the works to change that. (FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks should be pleased.)
According to a coalition of U.S. broadcasters, three-quarters of U.S. TVs sold in 2024 are expected to feature both HDTV and NextGen TV reception. Until then, Pearl TV emphasizes accessories as “an affordable alternative” to reach the maximum potential audience.
Pearl TV announced a “FastTrack program” intended to spur innovation of “low-cost upgrade accessory receivers” that would make any television with an HDMI port able to receive NextGen TV programming.
Device requirements for Pearl TV’s FastTrack include:
- Demodulate ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 signals through to an HDMI-equipped legacy display
- Scan for and ID OTA channels and services as well as OTA signaled, broadband delivered IP channels and services
- Navigate and select channels and services via a provided Bluetooth or IR remote control
- Offer on-screen user interface for viewer selectable controls
- Enable users to interact with NextGen TV apps
- Decrypt protected NextGen receiver content
- Reject NextGen TV services without an appropriate signature
- Support audio and visual decode of one program output to one primary display
through an HDMI output
- Capable of processing AC-4 and AC-3 audio
- Interface to the Internet using Wi-Fi
- Support output resolution up to 2160p60 Hz and upscale progressive content to 1080p30 or 60 on the HDMI output; native 2160p60 content must be downscaled to 1080p30 or 60 if connected display does not support 2160p60 Hz
- Support decoding of: HEVC-encoded video streams in ATSC-3; HEVC 10 Profile, Main Tier, Level 5.2;MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 in ATSC-1
The advent of streaming had many pundits predicting the end of broadcast television, but the ongoing transition to ATSC 3.0 shows that NextGen TV is on the rise. What’s more, legacy broadcast series have remained among the most popular content on streaming platforms worldwide. Learn about the latest broadcast tech and trends as well as what the future holds for over-the-air TV with the expert knowledge and insights you need from this hand-curated series of articles from NAB Amplify:
- NextGen TV: Using the Lighthouse Model to Make the Transition to ATSC 3.0
- What’s the Future of Broadcast TV? FCC Commissioner Starks Places a Bet on ATSC 3.0
- Streaming, Broadcast and Planning the Platform of the Future
- NextGen TV Isn’t Just a Vibe Shift, It’s a Permanent Situation
- Why Streaming Now Looks Even More Like Broadcast TV