ATSC 3.0 on its Way to OTA TV

Cord-cutters, do you have a friend or family member who criticizes you for using a TV antenna? If you do, you’ve probably heard things like, “That’s old technology!” Little do they know that over-the-air TV is about to get a huge upgrade. We’re talking possible 4K reception through your antenna! It’s one of the many benefits of ATSC 3.0. It’s the next generation over-the-air TV standard that could give you many exciting improvements. This year, TV stations in 60 markets plan to launch test broadcasts of ATSC 3.0. Let’s take a closer look at what we might expect from ATSC 3.0.

Meet ATSC 3.0

If you haven’t been following this, you might be wondering what ATSC stands for. It’s the Advanced Television Systems Committee. That’s the name of the group that helps create broadcast TV standards. (The group is assisted by the National Association of Broadcasters and manufacturers.) These standards ensure that the TV you buy will work with all over-the-air TV stations. The group created ATSC 1.0, which is the current over-the-air TV standard. That is set to be replaced by ATSC 3.0. Note: Congress, which mandates television standards, hasn’t set a timeline for the transition to ATSC 3.0.

If you have heard of ATSC 3.0, you’ve probably been following this blog. You might even remember when bloggermeister Stuart Sweet was skeptical about its arrival. Look, I’m not going to beat up on the guy. I do enough of that in my Streaming Saturday series. Besides, he fully owned his mistake in his recent podcast. ATSC 3.0 isn’t here but it looks like it’s coming soon. In other words, there’s no denying it and that’s great news for cord-cutters who haven’t had an “upgrade” in a long time.

What About ATSC 2.0?

It appears that the committee is jumping from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0. It makes you wonder what happened to 2.0, right? That’s one of the reasons Stuart initially doubted 3.0 would be a thing. The thing is, ATSC 2.0 has a lot of great innovations like interactive content, video on demand, and advanced video compression. The thing is, 4k and 4K HDR came out on the heels of that, so there was no need to invest in 2.0 technology when 3.0 is right around the corner. So, that’s that.

Moving on to ATSC 3.0, here are seven things cord-cutters need to know about it:

1. What’s in it for Me?

That’s a great question, cord-cutters. If these governmental bodies plan to change the OTA TV you’ve been enjoying for so long, there better be a good reason for it. More importantly, it’s best that YOU benefit from it. In the case of ATSC 3.0, it will:

  1. Allow for 4K HDR picture.
  2. Provide better sound quality than what you have now.
  3. Offer improved over-the-air TV coverage.
  4. Allow for custom weather alerts.
  5. Grant access to internet-active news stories.

These are just some of the exciting features you might enjoy with the new ATSC 3.0 standard.

2. You Won’t Need a New OTA Antenna

The TV antenna you’ve been using will work just fine with ATSC 3.0. Now, if you want to use this as an excuse to get a new antenna, The Solid Signal Blog team won’t judge. We’ll just direct you to our huge selection of over-the-air antennas in our online inventory.

3. You Won’t Need to Buy a New TV

That’s right! The TV you’re using right now will work with ATSC 3.0… at least for the next six to seven years. You can thank the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for that. The governmental organization is requiring TV stations to continue offering the current OTA standard for five years after the move. When the clock runs out, a handful of companies plan to offer dongles and set-top boxes that connect your antenna to the box, and the box to your TV’s HDMI port. You can plan to upgrade your TV in about six to seven years.

4. Internet is Isn’t Needed to Use ATSC 3.0

It’s true, you don’t need home internet to keep watching your OTA TV with the new standard. Even without the internet connection, ATSC 3.0 will feature on-demand video and more. If you want to integrate internet, you can. This gives you additional content, click-on ads, etc.

5. ATSC 3.0 is an Emergency Weather Radio

If the broadcaster enables it, your ATSC 3.0 will allow for weather alerts on your TV. You can even pinpoint the reports to your specific area or even town. It will work by using a GPS location that works with the weather alert system. This could be very helpful to anyone who lives in areas that are prone to catastrophic weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes.

6. Expect Area-Specific Advertising

No, ATSC 3.0 won’t do away with commercials altogether. What it will have are ads specific to your area. While no one is crazy about commercials, there are many benefits to this type of targeted advertising. You actually get ads that are relevant to you and your family. These ads continue to fund the local TV stations that you enjoy watching. In other words, the ad revenue makes sure that OTA is still a thing.

7. ATSC 3.0 Will Track What You Watch

In the past, it’s been hard to track what cord-cutters are watching OTA programming. ATSC 3.0 is designed to track what you watch. This is a good thing because it feeds into the rating system. (This could help keep your favorite shows on the air.) Since cable TV lets you opt out of tracking, there’s a good chance that ATSC 3.0 will let you do the same.

So, That’s ATSC 3.0…

…In a nutshell anyway. There isn’t a huge rush. Many people believe that over-the-air TV stations will keep running for five more years once the new standard launches. Still, cord-cutters in the 60 TV markets getting the test broadcasts of ATSC 3.0 will be in for a treat. In many ways, it could be the upgrade OTA TV needs. We’re sure there are plenty of cord-cutters who wish they didn’t have to wait so long to get it.

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.