Surveys Reveal that the 2017 NAB Show Must Build Broadcaster Support for ATSC 3.0

A recent survey from WideOrbit shows division in the ranks of broadcasters and the ATSC 3.0 standard. Two surveys conducted on the broadcasters’ adoption of the ATSC 3.0 standard, have highlighted the challenges facing standard proponents.

The conversion to 3.0 will be nothing like the move to HD, as both consumers and broadcasters are yet to understand the benefits. For ATSC 3.0 to be successful, viewers need the industry to offer compelling reasons for which to make the switch; such as an improved audience experience. While that was certainly an incentive during the switch to HDTV, the benefits offered by ATSC 3.0 are still far less obvious in consumer products. As a result, many broadcasters are concerned that consumers won’t purchase ATSC 3.0-compatible televisions.

However, while the adoption of ATSC 3.0 is not a requirement under FCC rules, it is interesting to note that the industry’s long-term future certainly depends on an IP-centric delivery system; therefore, without a move to ATSC 3.0 the benefits of IP are not available to broadcasters.

Many broadcasters are enthusiastic about ATSC 3.0 and the vast majority are taking steps to adopt it, regardless of the addressed concerns. In fact, over 75% of respondents indicated enthusiasm about ATSC 3.0., and more than half indicated their station or group is actively examining whether to make the transition.

While many TV executives are supportive of making changes, a high number plan on holding off — deciding to wait and see competitors’ outcomes and be either incentivised or deterred by their results. Further, there are issues surrounding support from the consumer electronics industry.

Respondents of the survey have offered a wide range of predictions for the cost per station for an ATSC 3.0 transition, as capital investment and operating costs remain a crucial area for media companies to understand before moving forward. This finding comes in spite of a recent BIA/Kelsey report, “The business case for ATSC 3.0,” that many stations can expect to recoup ATSC 3.0-related incremental costs in three years.

This year’s NAB trade show is ripe with opportunity to see, touch and question ATSC 3.0 technology. By now, broadcasters should have a good idea of what changes they may need to make, and potential vendors who can meet those needs.

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