SPOTLIGHT: SOUTH KOREA – Consumers Begin to Embrace Next Gen TV

South Korea literally paved the Road to ATSC 3.0, adopting its Next Gen TV standard in 2016 and launching 4K UHD ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in May 2017. Momentum continues to build since the landmark UHD broadcasts this year of the Winter Olympics and World Cup – Korean consumers are beginning to embrace Next Gen TV powered by ATSC 3.0.

By JAY JEON, RAPA

Like in the United States most TV viewers in South Korea currently watch broadcast channels through IPTV, Cable, and Satellite services. However, ATSC 3.0 represents huge potential to increase free over-the-air viewership in Korea.

The number of households capable to receive ATSC 3.0 transmission at home – via an antenna with either a new UHD TV with an integrated ATSC 3.0-1.0 tuner or with a set-top box converter – already has reached 5 percent.

And, it’s expected to grow significantly as more and more ATSC 3.0 receivers are purchased by Korean consumers.  Already, about 50 percent of TVs sold in Korea are UHD TVs with ATSC 3.0 capability. 

Live 4K UHD ATSC 3.0 broadcast viewed at a community center for senior citizens in Seoul.

Broadcasters are doing their part to help drive adoption by increasing the amount of original 4K content being produced, investing to build more towers and assisting in receiving antenna upgrades for multi-family homes.

Today, more and more South Korean people are excited about watching 4K UHD along with other Next Gen TV services using ATSC 3.0 transmission thanks to increased awareness and promotion efforts. Consumers watching the PyeongChang Olympic Games live in UHD noted that, even with HD, there used to be blurred images when athletes are moving fast, but the UHD cameras captured all details of athletes’ faces even with fast motion.

Visitors at Korea’s UHD public viewing center admire ATSC 3.0 4K UHD and interac-tive broadcasts.

Korea’s new “TIVIVA” service expands viewer benefits with new interactivity and more personalized services. Because major broadcasters deliver the content on a common ATSC 3.0 interactive platform, people with a new LG ATSC 3.0 UHD TV, for example, can enjoy almost every program available and are highly satisfied with the non-real-time service, one of the main TIVIVA features.

Consumer satisfaction is critical. Broadcasters in Korea see ATSC 3.0 as an opportunity to revitalize over-the-air broadcasting versus competitive pay TV and OTT service providers. One key to long-term success will be the continued growth of ATSC 3 receivers, including converter boxes for legacy 4K TVs.

Jay Jeon is Manager of the Next Gen Broadcast Team at RAPA, Korea’s broadcasting promotion association. Beyond its work in Korea, RAPA is undertaking a number of international promotion projects including partnerships with countries (in Latin America, for instance) to assist in transitioning to digital and ATSC 3.0.  Under partnership agreements, RAPA can provide consultation, support test broadcasting systems and help to develop ATSC 3.0 service models and scenarios. RAPA would like to work together with those countries interested converting to ATSC 3.0 for Next Gen TV.