Exclusive: New York’s WNET Turns on ATSC 3.0, With Nextgen TV Now Covering 70% of U.S. TV Viewers




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New York is finally embracing nextgen TV, with WNET the first station in the market to turn on its ATSC 3.0 signal.

WNET confirmed to Cord Cutters News that it had switched on the feed for ATSC 3.0, the latest standard for television airwave broadcasts that promises high picture and sound quality and the ability to target content to specific locations. 

But unlike deployments in other markets, this one is a little different. In addition to WNET (THIRTEEN) and Long Island-based WLIW21, some WNBC, WCBS, and Telemundo feeds will also run through the same broadcast tower, with WNET’s antenna at One World Trade Center acting as a “lighthouse” that will carry multiple ATSC 3.0 feeds to New York. The feed reaches a market with 7.7 million households. 

“We’re making a more compelling next generation environment in the DMA (designated market area),” said Bob Feinberg, the vice president of business development and chief legal officer, in an interview with Cord Cutters News. “It’s much more compelling than if we make the transition on our own.” 

The launch caps off an initiative kicked off by the WNET back in February 2022, and represents a major milestone for the Nextgen TV, which now covers the largest market in the country. With New York included, Nextgen TV now is available to 70% of TV audiences in the U.S. ATSC 3.0 will bring 4K resolution, high dynamic range video, advanced emergency messaging and interactivity with its new feed.

Out of the 1,750 full-power commercial and public TV stations, 400 of them now embrace ATSC 3.0 service. Because many of them are in major markets like New York, they’re able to cover so many more people. 

New Yorkers will see more benefits across multiple channels thanks to the signal-sharing deal struck between WNET and the other stations. 

It also won’t be the only station turning on ATSC 3.0, with Nexstar’s WPIX aiming to embrace the standard and launch by the end of the year. A spokesman confirmed that the company still intends to hit that goal, but didn’t offer more specific timing. 

New York audiences have already been getting messages about the upgrade. Cable customers won’t have to do anything after the launch, but anyone using an antenna will need to rescan the channels to get the refreshed feed, which is freely available with the right over-the-air equipment. 

Beyond video and sound improvements, Feinberg said the move to ATSC 3.0 will open the door to new business deals, with the stations potentially using its signals to carry data beyond the TV feeds, connecting anything from self-driving cars to smartphones with its over-the-air radio airwaves.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to enhance our programming and to drive additional revenue,” Feinberg said. “We think it’s a model for public TV stations across the country.”

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