2019: The year in Over-The-Air TV

This was the year that wasn’t, at least in the world of over-the-air broadcasting. I think that a lot of people assumed we’d see some sort of 4K over-the-air broadcasts this year. Unless you count some closed tests and some stunts for the National Association of Broadcasters show, you’d be assuming incorrectly.

The best news of 2019

The best news of the year involved our strengthening relationship with Antop. Antop’s product line continued to grow over the year and we’re proud to endorse the entire line including some of the longest-range omni antennas that anyone’s ever made.

A lot of folks switched out their antennas in 2019. Changes to the FCC’s channel allocations meant more people needed VHF than in any time since 2009 and that meant a lot of antenna sales for us. We’re very grateful to all our customers who got new antennas from us.

The ongoing fight with your TV tuner

Yes, you probably had to rescan for channels several times throughout the year. The FCC’s repack plan, first revealed in 2017,  really shifted into high gear this year. I’m not quite sure why they couldn’t do it so that every station in a market would change over on the same day, but they couldn’t. So, many of us were forced to rescan several times. I myself got in the habit of doing it about every three weeks. It only takes a few minutes for every TV and you can do multiple TVs at the same time

Locast – the future or a dead duck?

Locast isn’t really an antenna service and so you might ask why it’s in this article. It’s a free service available in several major cities which streams over-the-air channels and lets you watch them with an app. It could be really good for broadcasters since Locast doesn’t try to replace the commercials like cable and satellite sometimes do.

However, broadcasters got more riled up when companies like AT&T started using Locast to help users get local channels during carriage disputes. Several companies decided to sue Locast, claiming it was acting as a de facto cable company without getting the proper authorizations. Locast says they don’t make money on their service so all they are doing is acting as a repeater, something that’s totally legal.

Expect this fight to go on throughout 2020.

What about 4K Antennas? 4K Converter boxes? 4K broadcasting?

For those hoping for any sort of movement on 4K over-the-air this year, it ended up being pretty disappointing. All we can do is hope that we’ll see some change in 2020. I wish there was a whole lot more to say about that.

By the way, there’s no such thing as a 4K Antenna. Any TV antenna will be able to get 4K broadcasts if there ever are any.

NEXTGEN TV: The final word

In 2019, the folks who developed the broadcast standards that will enable 4K TV decided that the term “ATSC 3.0” wasn’t sexy enough and they cooked up NEXTGEN TV as their new buzzword. They also gave us the logo above, which wasn’t roundly embraced either.

But hey, it doesn’t matter what they call it, and the name may not stick. These are essentially the same people who spent years trying to get us to call 4K television “Ultra HD” and that didn’t work either.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.