Sinclair, A Big NEXTGEN TV Pusher, Joins Pearl


On its own, Sinclair Broadcast Group has done much to help bring about the voluntary transition to ATSC 3.0 digital broadcast signals for the U.S. television industry.

Now, it is becoming a full-fledged member of a TV industry consortium dedicated to bringing what is now branded as “NEXTGEN TV” to full public consciousness — and, ultimately, to their video delivery devices.

Pearl TV is now comprised of nine local broadcast TV companies, as Sinclair joins Graham Media Group, Gray Television, Hearst Television, Meredith Local Media Group, Nexstar Media Group, The E.W. Scripps Company, TEGNA and the Apollo Global Management-rebooted Cox Media Group as Pearl TV members.

These companies own and/or operate more than 750 stations, all of which will eventually add and ultimately replace their ATSC 1.0 signals with that of ATSC 3.0 “NEXT GEN.”

This, the TV industry claims, will bring improved audio and visual capabilities to broadcasters. More importantly, it gives an industry struggling to maintain advertising profit growth entry into addressable advertising solutions — a top desire in 2020 among marketers and brand managers.

Indeed, cross-platform video measurement and data is so important to the biggest ad agency conglomerates and national video distribution platforms that an entire day of panel discussions focused on the topic is being held Thursday (2/6) at Google’s New York headquarters by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM).

Whether or not NEXTGEN TV is the next HD Radio or a truly groundbreaking transitional moment for the broadcast TV industry is perhaps a topic of heresy among those in the media world. Pearl members adamantly believe NEXTGEN TV will prove successful, as their research shows the majority of U.S. TV consumers replace their sets every 8-10 years.

There has been no talk of government subsidies or financial assistance for low-income or nonprofit groups that will either need to replace their TVs, or simply add a USB to a port on their existing TVs capable of giving them the mix of video programming they seek.

Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle notes the consortium is “very pleased” that Sinclair is coming on board, helping Pearl TV in commercialization efforts “to offer consumers the new NEXTGEN TV services across the country.”

While ATSC 3.0 is not backwards compatible, the TV industry has had the help of major set manufacturers in ensuring hardware launches and signal propagation falls in line with the delivery of NEXTGEN TV-capable sets; a NEXTGEN TV logo will appear on all ATSC 3.0-ready sets.

This greatly differs from the rollout of HD Radio, and the failure by the automotive industry to make HD Radio standard across all OEM-based dashboard audio/video systems.

Schelle says, “The entire broadcast industry, including the TV networks and a large cross section of group owners, is committed to a successful roll out of ATSC 3.0.”

Pearl is coordinating 11 local broadcasters that are working together in Arizona’s Phoenix Model Market, which is incubating the new TV services and testing with consumers.

At the start of 2010, a second NEXTGEN TV transmission facility came to light in Phoenix, making it the first market to have two transmission towers with a Single Frequency Network (SFN) configuration.

NEXTGEN TV transmission facility No. 2 is to be hosted by Scripps’ home for The CW Network in Phoenix, KASW-61.

Participating TV groups and stations in the Phoenix Model Market include: Arizona State University’s Arizona PBS Member station (KAET); Arizona Television’s unaffiliated KAZT-7, The E.W. Scripps Co.’s ABC affiliated KNXV-15, Fox O&O KSAZ-10 and MyNetwork TV KUTP-TV; Meredith Corp.’s KPHO-5 (CBS) and news-oriented “Family TV” KTVK-3; Nexstar Media Group’s soon-to-be sold affiliate of The CW Network, KASW-TV; Telemundo Station Group’s KTAZ-TV; TEGNA’s NBC affiliated KPNX-12; and Univision’s KFPH-CD (UniMas) and KTVW-TV (Univision).

Univision is hosting the first test station, which can only be viewed from their facilities at this time.

Speaking of Sinclair’s entry into Pearl TV, President/CEO Chris Ripley says, “From the beginning, Sinclair has focused on the exceptional advantages of a fresh start in over-the-air broadcasting afforded by the introduction of ATSC 3.0. That is why we have been invested in and committed to improving over-the-air broadcasting so that it can better compete in today’s marketplace.  We are excited to link arms with Pearl to ensure that the coming transition to ATSC 3.0 can be both swift and achievable.”