The ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard took a big leap forward at last year’s CES show in Las Vegas with the introduction of the first 3.0-capable TV sets. LG, Samsung and Sony pledged to roll out a total of 20 of the new “NextGen TV” models in 2020, while broadcasters aimed to launch 3.0 signals in the Top 40 markets, and over 60 overall, by year-end.
Like many things in 2020, not all of those plans came to fruition, though set-makers did follow through on their “20 in 2020” promise and shipped 300,000 NextGen TV sets last year, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Broadcasters’ rollout of 3.0 was slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some lingering delays from completing the RF repack process. As the television industry gathered for the virtual CES 2021 show this week, there were only 23 markets live with 3.0 signals covering around 20% of U.S. households.
But broadcasters led by the PearlTV and BitPath consortiums say they are aggressively rolling out more 3.0 stations this winter and spring and should have more than 40 markets covering 50% of households live by the end of this summer, with 3.0 signals covering 70%-80% of the country by year-end 2021. They are also testing how 3.0 can be carried by cable systems, working with Comcast in Portland, Ore., as well as conducting trials of 3.0 data delivery to automobiles, working with car manufacturers, auto tech vendors and cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Detroit.
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