nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

nScreenNoise – is this the future of broadcast TV?

nScreenMedia Video Podcast

Broadcast TV in the U.S. is on the decade-long transition to ATSC 3.0, aka NextGen TV. However, there is an alternate broadcast TV future. What is more, it is here and now and already in tens of millions of homes.

Part 1: Smart TV manufacturers integrate linear internet TV (0:37)

Smart TV manufacturers are taking a pragmatic approach to linear channels on their TVs. Top manufacturers are integrating linear Internet TV directly into native apps on the televisions. For example, there is VIZIO SmartCast, Samsung TV Plus, and LG Channels. All have plenty of free ad-supported linear channels available.

Part 2: VIZIO SmartCast Watchfree (1:17)

VIZIO SmartCast includes 70+ channels in its Watchfree section. The channels are available across many genres, including news, movies, home improvement. There are even channels dedicated to streaming a single show 24-hours a day.

If a viewer has Wi-Fi, there is no more natural way to watch TV. He or she need only plug the TV in, hook up to Wi-Fi, and start watching. There is no signup, no charges, the TV remote is all that is required, and there is a familiar TV guide for navigation.

The channels are proving popular. According to VIZIO’s VP of Business Development Katherine Pond, the company has seen a 108% increase in usage of the channels since March.

Part 3: Top TV producers starting to take note (3:04)

Endemol Shine, which is responsible for such shows as Deal No Deal and Wipeout, has just signed a deal to distribute some shows through VIZIO smart TVs. For example, Deal no Deal will be available as a live 24-hour per day channel through VIZIO Watchfree.

Part 4: Could this be the future of broadcast TV? (4:32)

There are issues for content providers distributing through linear Internet TV apps on smart TVs. The market is fragmented, and content owners will need separate deals with each manufacturer. As well, TV advertisers are not yet spending a lot of money with the channels.

That said, it is still easy to get on the platforms, and the fragmentation issue should ease over time. Kasia Jablonska, Head of Digital and Monetisation at Endemol Shine Group, thinks the approach has a great future:

“It’s a major change in viewing habits, and I think the industry needs to catch up with this.”

Part 5: Free live webinar: dewexpo.com/webinar (5:36)

If you would like to hear more, Katherine Pond from Vizio and Kasia Jablonska from Endemol Shine will join me to discuss the issues on Monday, June 15th, at noon Pacific. The live webinar is part of the Let’s DEW Lunch series from Digital Media Wire. Click here and scroll down to find the session and register for it.

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(2) Comments

  1. Colin – I just watched your latest video piece flogging CPE manufacturers bundled channels/content, very interesting and I do agree with your observation that these are the “lowest barrier to entry”…because all you need to do is buy the consumer electronics. What I don’t agree with is the implication that constitutes an “either-or” proposition with ATSC 3.0. Indeed, all of the major CPE manufacturers (such as Samsung, LG, and Sony) are on track to produce ATSC 3.0-compatible sets.

    As always, the adoption rate will start slowly – as will the installation of ATSC 3.0 infrastructure at Full-Power and Low-Power television stations around the country. Eventually – inevitably – all video services will be distributed via IP. Honestly I think the main question is whether the content will be transported to CPE via “wired” (unicast) or wireless (broadcast/multicast) networks. Whether a viewer wants to watch the paint dry on the Bob Ross Channel or the most recent episodes of Miss Maisel misses the point that there’s a huge difference in the transport economics for distributing and storing the content – particularly in ex-urban and rural markets (DMA’s 50 – 210).

    Will ATSC 3.0 be as big a game-changer as ATSC 1.0? That’s a very high bar indeed – but I wouldn’t underestimate the new protocol’s impact at this point. As we’ve seen just in the past few weeks, the FCC has gone “all in” on ATSC 3.0 – allowing broadcasters to pool bandwidth for wireless IP transport. And keep in mind that ATSC 3.0 is being deployed by other countries as well – which is a big deal. Maybe for once there will be a worldwide transmission protocol!?

    • You’re right, Steve. It isn’t an either/or situation. Both will co-exist side-by-side. That said, the smart TV opportunity is here now, with 10s of millions of viewers. That is something content providers and broadcasters should not ignore.
      Unfortunately, to keep videos and posts short and easily consumed I can’t present all sides of an argument, but I’m certainly keen to do that over time. In other words, it could be time do an ATSC 3.0 update!

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