Is NextGen TV Still the ‘Next Big Thing’?
In the age of pay TV streaming, free streaming is a big deal.
A collective groan was heard around the world as news broke that Netflix landed the rights to produce a live-action version of the popular Japanese anime My Hero Academia. Given the company’s track record of making poorly-received live-action adaptations of popular anime shows, you can be sure most fans are squarely in the “Please, no, don’t do this!” camp.
In this issue:
What is NextGen TV?
Why should anyone care about NextGen TV?
When will NextGen TV be available in my area?
Over-the-air TV is dead…right?
If you’re a Millennial or older, you likely remember fondly (or not too fondly) having to watch a large amount of TV over the air. Adjusting rabbit ears on the TV to get the right signal was a right of passage, as was jerry rigging contraptions to get the signal better.
In 2009 life got a bit better for anyone without cable TV as broadcasts went fully digital. With streaming still in its infancy, any viewers who didn’t have cable TV could now get their OTA (over-the-air) channels using digital receivers. Nevertheless, in 2014, Netflix CEO Reed Hasting made the bold prediction that broadcast TV would be dead in 16 years. We’re now halfway to that point.
If you believe Hastings was right, well, you haven’t met NextGen TV. It’s the single biggest reason why, Variety explained in a 2021 report, “Broadcast TV isn’t going anywhere. But don’t expect it to look the same in five years’ time as content is changed to find the optimal formula to attract the most viewers.”
What is NextGen TV?
Without getting overly technical, there are two types of over-the-air broadcasts: analog and digital.
Analog signals process radio waves as electrical patterns, which are translated into images. Digital signals, however, receive that information in the form of digits (1s and 0s). By using computer processing of digits into information, digital signals are capable of producing higher-quality images and better-quality sound. NextGen TV is the newest iteration of digital over-the-air TV. Formerly known as ATSC 3.0, it got an understandable name change, as “NextGen TV” is far more marketable.
So what makes NextGen TV so special, you ask? It’s all in the features and quality. The advantages of NextGen TV include:
4K HD video quality
Movie theater sound quality
Far more channels than traditional OTA TV
Ability to view OTA channels on mobile devices
Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should. These are many of the features that most TV viewers have come to expect from virtual Multichannel Video Program Distributors or vMVPDs. If that’s a new term for you, think Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, or Philo. Each of these companies falls within that category, and you’ll note that the features they advertise heavily are right in line with what NextGen TV promises to offer.
I’m sold. Where do I sign up?
Well, not so fast. We’ll give you a checklist of everything you need, but first, here’s a list of NextGen TV limitations:
No cable TV channels: Only channels traditionally broadcast over the air will be available. Positively, that does mean access to the “Big 4” (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX)
No digital DVR: If you want to record channel content, you’ll need a separate device.
Limited coverage (for now): NextGen TV isn’t available everywhere (yet). If you plan on doing a cost-saving combo, like NextGen TV + Philo or NextGen TV + Sling TV, you may have to wait a bit longer.
Limited channels (for now): The number of broadcasters using ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) is still on the low side. That’ll change in the coming years, but for now, your options are limited.
That said, here’s your NextGen TV checklist:
Go to watchnextgentv.com and check for availability
If NextGen TV is available in your area or coming soon, click the “Shop Devices” button on the top right of the website.
If you’ve got the bucks, purchase a TV that includes a NextGen TV receiver.
Alternatively, go to Amazon and purchase a separate NextGen TV receiver for your current TV. Make sure the device is ATSC 3.0 capable!
Over-the-air TV lives to see another day
Hold your horses, Reed. Over-the-air TV hasn’t breathed its last breath quite yet. Once ATSC 3.0, aka NextGen TV, gets its legs under it, its ability to deliver a quality experience on par with streaming options will make it an intriguing offer. And with the resurgence of free, ad-supported TV, we may see services make a unique and unexpected shift from streaming-only to offering content over the air. Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist?
How did you feel about this issue of the Stream Report?
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