Back to the Future: 4K Over the Air
As more Americans are “cutting the cord,” there has been a noticeable shift to terrestrial television as the main source of live video content for many households. Digital terrestrial television, also known as DTT or Over the Air (OTA) TV, is the transmission of digital video content by radio waves from a terrestrial transmitter to an antenna and receiver box.
While some may think that the time of “rabbit ears” may be behind us, OTA TV viewing has actually been increasing over the past few years. It has a presence in just over 14% of American homes, according to Nielsen. Though cable operators and satellite services remain the main providers of live linear television, traditional TV antennae are also keeping pace with new technology including 4K UHD.
The Next Generation of Over the Air
NEXTGEN TV is an industry initiative backed by television set manufacturers and broadcasters to roll out ATSC 3.0 across the United States. ATSC 1.0, the current digital television standard for North America, has been in place since 2009 and was crucial for the launch of HD television thanks to its support for H.264 or AVC video compression.
Now that 4K UHD television sets are becoming commonplace, NEXGEN TV aims to deliver 4K content over the air with HEVC encoding, 10-bit video, HDR (High Dynamic Range), and up to 120 frames per second. ATSC 3.0 also supports multichannel audio for carrying the home theatre experience over the air.
Embracing the Future of Television with ATSC 3.0
Major television manufactures have signaled their support by promising to launch new television sets with built-in ATSC 3.0 tuners under the NEXTGEN TV label. Over 750 television stations have thrown their weight behind NEXTGEN TV via the Pearl TV association, representing about half of all US terrestrial broadcasters. Roll-out is expected by the end of this year, though as ATSC 3.0 is not backwards compatible with ATSC 1.0, the two types of digital television multicast technologies will need to co-exist for a while yet.
NEXTGEN TV along with other initiatives and trends around the globe confirm the growing importance of 4K TV content and the need for 4K HEVC encoders for broadcast contribution and distribution. Ready to join the shift to 4K HEVC workflows? Learn more about the Makito X4 video encoder by Haivision.