Sinclair Plans to Launch Next Gen ATSC 3.0 Over-the-Air TV in 26 Markets in 2019





Teenager girl with remote control laying down and watching tv eating popcorn.

Teenager girl with remote control laying down and watching tv eating popcorn.Yesterday Cord Cutters News interviewed Mark Aitken, VP of Advanced Technology for Sinclair. During our talk, we dove deep into the future of 3.0 OTA TV and what it means for cord cutting.

First, you may be wondering what is ATSC 3.0 OTA TV? ATSC 3.0 is a new standard that will bring a long list of new features to over-the-air TV. Two main features that will really excite cord cutters are 4K HDR picture with better sound and better over-the-air TV coverage.

There are other great features such as detailed custom weather alerts and interactive news stories. Yet the biggest selling point for cord cutters is the fact that ATSC 3.0 does a far better job covering a larger areas compared to the current OTA TV standard.

During our interview, Aitken relayed how committed Sinclair is to the next gen 3.0 OTA TV. “We are committed completely to the transformation of our business to this new platform…” When talking about how quickly 3.0 OTA TV will roll out, Aitken went on to say, “We will have inside of this year roughly 26 markets on the air with 3.0 services.”

Sinclair has not announced what markets will get the new 3.0 OTA TV standard this year. Sinclair is looking at all their options from partnering with other station owners to using a partnership in markets they own multiple stations in to ensure that the current OTA standard continues to broadcast for the required five additional years as they roll out the new 3.0 OTA TV standard.

So, what does this mean for the end consumer? According to Aitken, in areas that the current over-the-air TV standard would only allow one HD and two SD channels, this new standard could offer five HD channels and ten SD channels. This means more TV channels offering more options for the end users.

So how will you get these new channels on your TV if your TV does not support 3.0? According to Aitken, Sinclair plans to “seed the market with low-cost transition devices.” These devices will include devices meant for your TV as well as devices like a USB dongle that will work on phones, tablets, and computers. Sinclair also plans to offer tablets with ATSC 3.0 built in that will allow you to access over-the-air TV at home and on the road through your tablet.

“This is an opportunity for broadcasts to reinvent the entirety of their business.” Aitken went on to say, “the long-held idea of TV everywhere will become a reality.” We are not just talking about at your home. Aitken was very clear that Sinclair is looking at expanding OTA TV from something that happens inside your house to something that happens on the go from your car to when you are at the park, for example.

Sinclair is not just looking at this as a way to bring TV to Americans. Sinclair also plans to use ATSC 3.0 to offer data needed for a wide range of products including data for cars. Soon your car may get traffic and weather updates from ATSC 3.0. The options for the data side of ATSC 3.0 are just getting started.

As for when this will happen, Aitken did not have a date. There are some FCC rules like a four-month notice rule before the transition will happen. So, at the earliest, we are likely looking at very late spring or summer as the absolute earliest possible time for ATSC 3.0 to start rolling out.

Are you excited about ATSC 3.0? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think of the future 3.0 rollout coming later this year.

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