HDHomeRun’s ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV DRM Won’t Work on Most Roku Players and Apple TVs





Back in 2020, Silicondust released its first HDHomeRun NextGen TV FLEX 4K Tuner for the NextGen TV standard ATSC 3.0. Since it launched, many have been waiting for it to add digital rights management, or DRM, support, but now we get a look into some of the reasons it is taking so long. A big obstacle is the fact that many streaming players, including most Roku players and even the Apple TV, do not support the DRM used with ATSC 3.0.

ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV uses Widevine from Google, a DRM option that isn’t universally used. This means that the streaming players will need to also support that DRM standard. Currently, Android, Android TV, Google TV, and Fire TV support it. Some Roku players support it but only with the new Roku Ultra from 2020 and 2022, while only the newest Roku TVs support it.

This creates an issue for the HDHomeRun because even if it gets support the new DRM, many of the settop boxes like Roku and Apple TV still don’t.

Here is what SiliconDust had to say about this issue:

ATSC 3.0 uses Google’s Widevine for DRM. Roku and Android/Android TV/Fire TV have Widevine support built in, so that’s one big thing we don’t have to worry about on those platforms and thus they are the fastest possible ways to get DRM support out there. Apple and Microsoft don’t build that in so they require more work. Timeline on that is unknown at this point, we need to get the core part of the DRM system done first.

A cheap Roku isn’t going to be an option. Only the 2020 and 2022 Ultras and newer TVs support AC-4 audio, so they are the only ones that will have any ATSC 3.0 support, DRM or otherwise. The $19.88 Onn Google TV box from Walmart is the cheap device to get, with the only real downside being not having AC-4 support built in and having to use the transcode service. It is now one of our primary development/testing platforms.

The good news is Walmart’s new Onn Google TV box will support this standard if you are looking for a cheap new streaming player to watch ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV through the HDHomeRun.

With ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV, you can get 4K TV, improved sound, better weather alerts, and a ton of other features are coming with the free over-the-air TV upgrade. For some time, the issue had been no good tuners to take advantage of everything it has to offer, though there is a growing number of tuners hitting the market.

SiliconDust said that it has continued to make progress on getting support for DRM. For now though, no timeline has been announced for when it will go live. When it does you will also need a supported streaming player to watch it.

Roku couldn’t immediately be reached to comment about support across its older devices.

Here are the features of the HDHomeRun Flex 4K NextGen TV Tuner:

  • All the features of the HDHomeRun CONNECT QUATRO & 4K models plus optional DVR by connecting a USB hard drive (requires paid TV guide for DVR record)
  • 4 tuners (2 ATSC 3.0, all 4 ATSC 1.0)
  • Watch and record in full 1080p and 4K HDR resolution where available
  • View on many devices and platforms. Windows 10/UWP including PCs, surface, tablets and phones; Android including phones, tablets and smart media boxes; Apple including computers, iPhones, and iPads. Also, Plex plugins can be used for third party applications.

Here is how Silicondust describes this tuner:

  • FLEX – the next generation HDHomeRun CONNECT 4K
  • Watch live TV on multiple devices simultaneously throughout your home with our Multi room Multi user network tuner solution
  • All the features of the HDHomeRun CONNECT QUATRO & 4K models plus optional DVR by connecting a USB hard drive (requires paid TV guide for DVR record)
  • ATSC 1.0 content is compatible with XBoxOne AppleTV iPhone iPad Win10/11 Mac Android FireTV Sony and LG devices. ATSC 3.0 content is compatible with XBoxOne AppleTV iPhone iPad Win10/11 Mac Sony most-Android most-FireTV and 2019+LG devices. Live TV and playback support on some Roku models.
  • 4 tuners (2 ATSC 3.0, all 4 ATSC 1.0)

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