Want Local TV In Future? Get A New Set!

HDTV sets? 4KTV TV sets? Maybe it’s time for a change. How about new ATSC 3.0 TV sets?

New technology for local TV stations could mean another TV set purchase for consumers — which is good and bad news.

This comes as local TV stations modernize, looking to compete with new digital media players, which have plenty of valuable targeting and ROI metrics, but not the scale that TV stations have.

The FCC has now approved “Next Gen” technology — the ATSC 3.0 standard. Long-term critics of the move believed TV consumers would eventually be forced to buy new TV sets. In the near term, consumers might need new set-top-box technology to accommodate ATSC 3.0.

For the first five years, under the new rules, TV stations will need to simulcast current TV standard digital signals along with new ATSC 3.0 signals. After that, consumers will need TV sets with ATSC 3.0 tuners or “external tuners” — a stand-alone box or "stick" via HDMI connection — to receive network and local TV programming over the air.



Nice. And you thought your Ultra HDTV would last for at least a decade.

With current methods, a TV measurer can only determine the size of the household and some particular consumer purchase behavior. But much of this isn’t in real-time, and they don’t know who in the household is watching.

For advertisers, next-generation local TV station technology is a big deal. Marketers have long asked for better buying, targeting and accounting capabilities for local commercials.

But what if all this is for naught — and viewing conditions don’t stay the same? What if local TV station viewership keeps declining, and there is more fractionalization vs. other digital media, so the positive aspect of its “scale” is diminished?

Separately, what becomes of younger TV viewers with less interest in traditional TV? Where does that leave TV stations’ network partners? Big media company/network groups could just accelerate the pursuit of network-specific digital platforms — live, linear services and/or on-demand TV/video sites.  

Finally, it seems the “screen” is king, rather than the “content.” In that vein, TV networks should get into the TV set manufacturer business —something they did at the dawn of the TV age, about 80 years ago.

After all, TV networks always talk about building “direct-to-consumer” businesses. Now they can really mean it.

This column was previously published in TV Watch on November 20, 2017.

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