When is 4K Coming to NEXTGEN ATSC 3.0 Free OTA TV? We Explain…





remote pointing at tv

Over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting is trying to keep up with the high quality of streaming services. Nextgen TV is already planning to roll out ATSC 3.0 in 14 cities but 4K has yet to launch over-the-air. When will it be available? No one is quite certain for now.

One of the main reasons is that the Federal Communications Commission requires broadcasters to transmit ATSC 1.0 while launching ASTC 3.0 on a “market-by-market” basis. Nextgen is currently constrained by the limits of the available spectrum. ATSC 3.0 transmissions carry several channels that use up all available bandwidth. For now ASTC 3.0 4K may have to wait until the 1.0 standard shutdown to be able to offer 4K on 3.0.

Until then, some markets are getting access to HDR-enhanced 1080p broadcast transmissions. ATSC 3.0 is available in 72 markets across 34 states as well as Washington D.C. Viewers in these markets will notice a better quality picture. 

How much better? Enough that “several people who have seen HDR demonstrations at trade shows think they are looking at 4K… a remarkable improvement and it’s easier to broadcast,” said Anne Schelle, Managing Director of Pearl TV during an interview with Sound and Vision. Pearl TV is an alliance of broadcast companies running Nextgen TV.

She went on to say, “Some of the most impressive video with high dynamic range is live sports, and we anticipate that this enhancement will deliver incredible picture quality – with deeper blacks, brighter highlights, and higher contrast. The first HDR-enabled broadcasts are on the air now in San Francisco and Miami, with more to come.”

So while 4K broadcasting is looming over the horizon, there’s not enough bandwidth available to reach audiences just yet. Until then, Nextgen will continue to launch more HDR channels to its free, over-the-air service available on Nextgen TV along with an HD antenna.

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