Many people that have watched their local stations’ broadcasts over antennae rather than from a pay TV service are stunned by the video quality they see.
Local stations typically broadcast their primary channel in full uncompressed 1080p, which is rarely offered by pay TV companies. Imagine if those broadcasts were UHD!
Live TV studio broadcast
Sinclair, a US owner/operator of about 164 local TV stations, has tested Technicolor’s next-generation broadcast technology in an experiment that could enable local TV stations to broadcast UHD/4K signals to special or specially-modified UHD TVs much sooner than had been expected. If stations deploy the technology in the near future they would be well ahead of pay TV services in offering live UHD content. It would also immediately increase demand for now affordable UHD TVs, which would also and unintentionally increase the demand for UHD videos from OTT services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon as well as perhaps others such as Hulu and Apple’s iTunes.
The test gear is an early version of ATSC 3.0, local stations’ next big broadcast technology. The technology package that Technicolor assembled also includes such industry standards as Scalable HEVC (SHVC) for compression/decompression, MPEG-H audio and MPEG-MMT transport. It was the first use of SHVC compression during a live broadcast. SHVC Scalable HEVC Video Coding (SHVC) could make the signal backwards compatible with existing screens, although not their tuners.
It’s the first successful broadcast of compression anywhere in the world and the first successful integration of MPEG-MMT A/V transport technology, which is enhanced with Technicolor’s fast channel change and staggercast technologies to ensure consumers do not lose audio capabilities even when reception and video are not seamless experiences.
There’s a bonus. These are the technologies that are needed to work together to broadcast live 4K scalable video and audio to over-the-air antennas and also live-streamed to mobile devices such as smartphone and tablets.
Who needs Aereo?
Clearly communicating that UHD and mobile TV are very much on the minds of owners and executives of local TV stations, Sinclair’s VP of technology Mark Aitken said, “Sinclair continues to work to bring future value to all broadcast stakeholders, a future where HDTV and new services can be reliably delivered to tablets and portable devices, and 4K UltraHD to our home audience. These new revenue opportunities bring local broadcasters to the forefront of serving our local markets.”
Faultline’s Peter White said, “The surprise of this experiment is that first it is way ahead of anyone’s expectation for ASTC 3.0, which was meant to be some years away, and secondly shows just how far Technicolor has managed to go in such a short space of time. Most broadcasters had been expecting that HD broadcasting would be their last over-the-air technology and are all looking at sending TV signals over the open Internet as OTT signals.”
Technicolor’s SVP of corporate development and technology Vince Pizzica said, “Technicolor has created an integrated platform, not just a single component such as audio or video, which enables us to do real-world deployments and testing of this exciting next generation ATSC 3.0 technology.”
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