A new broadcast standard, ATSC 3.0, or Next Gen TV, is reportedly on schedule to roll out across 40 US markets by 2020. The new standard is a step towards the holy grail of addressable TV, by enabling a greater level of interactivity.

A coalition of US broadcast TV station groups, including Sinclair, Univision, Meredith, and Fox, has announced the rollout of what it calls Next-Gen TV in the 40 largest US TV markets by 2020, it said in a press release. For consumers, the most obvious benefit is the ability to receive 4K broadcasts with better sound. For advertisers, it opens up the possibility of addressable TV at scale.

Addressable TV

Read WARC’s Best Practice piece: What we know about addressable TV.

Addressable TV is a broad umbrella term. It takes in the very real possibility of addressing a consumer through a set-top box, as in the case of the UK’s Sky AdSmart system, or directing advertising via a Roku-style internet-based system. What lags, however, is the adoption of a television broadcast standard that can bring data-driven planning to regular televisions.

“Next-Gen TV services will enable us to deliver new value and capabilities to viewers and advertisers, while creating new business opportunities to support the continued growth of our industry well into the future”, said Perry A. Sook, Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nexstar Media Group, a member of the coalition.

What the development means for advertisers is the ability to buy inventory across what is currently a patchwork that makes up the US TV market. Currently, a back-and-forth data relationship is reserved for cable companies and OTT providers. ATSC 3.0 would mean that broadcasters can push out information to viewers, but also receive information. This addresses some of the concerns about measurement that have surrounded the topic for some time.

Effectively, this moves TV broadcasters to an internet protocol, meaning a greater data transfer. “One of the many benefits of the Next Gen TV standard will be the enhanced ability for broadcasters to know more precisely what ratings agencies now just estimate,” said Jerald Fritz, evp of One Media, a broadcast technology company that spoke with the Washington Post in 2017.

Detractors, meanwhile, argue that the technology could have adverse privacy implications for consumers. For local TV stations, which have struggled in an increasingly online world, this development offers the opportunity to compete with fully digital players. Critics have pointed out, however, that the work is moving extremely slowly.

However, like any network rollout, it will take time not only for the broadcast technology to become available, but also for consumers to adopt adequate receivers.

Sourced from Pearl TV, Washington Post, MediaPost; additional content by WARC staff