PHOENIX RISES: Broadcasters Launching ATSC 3.0 ‘Model Market’

In the first collaborative single-market effort to plan for and implement a transition to Next Gen TV, leading broadcasters are launching a comprehensive initiative in Phoenix, Ariz., to show how the ATSC 3.0 standard can be deployed while maintaining existing digital TV service for viewers.

The landmark announcement, on the eve of the FCC adoption of Next Gen TV rules for voluntary ATSC 3.0 implementation, is viewed as a leap forward to support widespread ATSC 3.0 deployment. Participants include Pearl TV, E.W. Scripps Company, Fox Television Stations, Meredith Local Media Group, Nexstar Media Group, TEGNA, Telemundo Station Group and Univision Communications.

Phoenix will serve as the first “model market” for deployment of Next Gen TV powered by ATSC 3.0, a sweeping improvement designed to greatly enhance over-the-air services for viewers and provide new options through smart TVs and other Internet-connected devices. The nation’s 12-largest TV market, Phoenix has more than 1.8 million households with more than one in five viewers relying on over-the-air reception.

“What we learn in Phoenix will be critical for a successful deployment of Next Gen TV across the country,” said Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle, who also serves on the ATSC board of directors. “The model market collaboration will help broadcasters develop commercial launch profiles, station configurations, interoperability with cable retransmission and support requirements for a basic ATSC 3.0 TV service.”

Ten TV stations in the Phoenix market will participate in deploying the model market project, which will launch soon and involve independent broadcasters as well as those owned by or affiliated with the major networks. Stations participating:

  • Scripps’s KNXV Channel 15 (ABC);
  • Fox’s KSAZ Channel 10 (FOX) and KUTP Channel 26 (MyTV Network);
  • Meredith’s KPHO Channel 17 (CBS) and KTVK Channel 24 (Independent);
  • Nexstar’s KASW Channel 49 (CW Network);
  • Telemundo’s KTAZ Channel 39 (Telemundo);
  • TEGNA’s KPNX Channel 12 (NBC); and
  • Univision’s KFPH-CD Channel 35 (UniMas) and KTVW-DT Channel 33 (Univision).

The Phoenix model market project will create an open test bed for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders in the TV ecosystem, Schelle explained.

The project’s objectives include confirming basic TV service parameters and performance, determining the appeal of HDR video and immersive audio content to consumers, assessing TV application features and implementation requirements, testing interactive and addressable advertising functionality, determining consumer device and service appeal, and ensuring effective and efficient interoperability with multichannel video programming distribution systems.

“Creating an end-to-end model system will help foster industry consensus and drive ecosystem development. This includes development of the ‘lighthouse’ concept to keep legacy digital TV available for all viewers while new ATSC 3.0 services are being launched,” Schelle said.