Consumer Technology Association wants you to call it “NEXTGEN TV”

Call it whatever you want, but first you have to deliver it.

The Consumer Technology Association (Signal Group is a member) today announced that from henceforth, they will be branding the next generation broadcast standard as “NEXTGEN TV.” What standard? I’m talking about ATSC 3.0. We’ve been discussing it for a while here at The Solid Signal Blog. But, if you’ve never heard of it, here’s a really quick rundown:

What is ATSC 3.0, uh, er, NEXTGEN TV?

NextGenTV is the proposed new standard for broadcasting in the United States. The first broadcast standard, which was proposed in 1941 and modified several times over the years, was called NTSC after the National Television Standards Committee which proposed it.

Digital TV was defined by a group called the Advanced Television Standards Commitee. Their standard, ATSC 1.0, became the only TV standard in use in 2009. It’s what you watch today if you get TV over the air.

No one quite knows what happened to ATSC 2.0, but the ATSC 3.0 standard has been percolating for years. It’s gained some momentum in the last two years thanks to lax government rules which let broadcasters test it out without all the strict oversight that happened the last time we all did this.

NEXTGEN TV sort of stalled when its primary advocate, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, got in hot water from the FCC this year, but even before that things had cooled down a bit due to the high cost of prototype hardware.

Supposedly NEXTGEN TV is on track to be the sole standard for US broadcasting by 2025. It will give broadcasters the ability to send 4K signals, let TVs download targeted ads, and tie into on-demand services. That is, if it ever happens.

If you want more information, check it out here.

And now the marketing folks have gotten involved.

At the request of the ATSC, who probably have lots of time on their hands since their standard has been finalized, CTA went to work crafting a new logo and marketing concept for ATSC 3.0. The result is… well you see the logo above. It’s fine although I doubt it’s going to win any design awards. And, the NEXTGEN TV name isn’t exactly a stretch either.

Forgive me for being cynical but I remember these are the same folks who just plain begged you to call 4K television “UltraHD” and then “UltraHD Premium.” Which, a grand total of no one ever did.  A generation ago they also wanted you to say “Blu-ray Disc” which, again no one did. They said Blu-ray and no one ever said disc. I have a feeling that if they had been around in the early days of radio they would have issued a press release with an old-school logo telling you to call it “Audiophonicity.”

Folks, I have no beef with marketing and fancy logos. And really I have no beef with the CTA. But really, I think there are some real issues with ATSC 3.0 or NextGenTV or whatever you’re calling it that a logo and name change aren’t going to cure.

Real issues?

Real issues like, people still don’t want 4K over-the-air television. Of course a few people do, and the people who read this blog do. But “Joe Sixpack” probably still watches the stretched-out SD feed on his cable box because he can’t find the HD channels.

And even if people did want that, this whole TV standard thing isn’t about that. It’s about delivering ads to people. It’s about broadcasters thinking that the problem is, people want ads that are a better fit for them. That’s ridiculous. No one in the history of ever said “Gee I really hate that my favorite show gives me ads I don’t like.”

No, they said that their favorite show gives them too many ads. That was the whole point of the last 20 years of people getting DVRs and starting to stream.

Now that streaming costs are going sky high, people are realizing that they’re ok with three or four minutes of ads an hour, but network TV has 16 minutes of ads per hour. And the funny thing is that services like PlutoTV that do put in targeted ads really don’t target that well. You see the same ads over and over. If broadcasters think they can fill 16 minutes an hour with targeted commercials they’re just not being realistic.

But seriously. Enjoy your logo.

I’m hoping that NEXTGEN TV or whatever they call it succeeds. I think it will, eventually. But I don’t think the branding is what’s holding it back. I think the technology is still too expensive. I don’t buy the way it’s being done now from a regulatory point of view. Fix those things and then people will have an upgrade path that makes sense.