Survey: Most Broadcast Executives Excited by ATSC 3.0

WideOrbit finds big difference in cost estimates

Despite costs and uncertainty, most broadcast industry executives are looking forward to plugging into the new ATSC 3.0 TV standard, according to a survey by WideOrbit.

The survey found that 71% of broadcasters were enthusiastic about ATSC 3.0. More than half said their station group is examining whether to make the transition.

Just 5% of the execs said their transition to ATSC 3.0 would start in 2017, with 20% seeing a 2018 start and 32% 2019 or later. Another 39% said they didn’t know when the transition would start because they were still evaluating if the new standard would fit their business.

But the executive’s estimates about how much it would cost to convert to 3.0 varied widely. A full 10% expected expenses of more than $2 million, while 8% forecasted costs of less than $250,000. They also did not have a complete handle on which technologies would need to be replaced or upgraded in order to take advantage of the advanced interactive advertising business the new broadcast standard would allow.

New advertising sales opportunities was the No. 1 reason stations were considering a transition. Others said the transition would help reach viewers moving to over-the-top programming.

BIA/Kelsey has estimated that large and medium-sized stations will be able to recoup ATSC 3.0 conversion costs in three years.

Respondents said that for ATSC 3.0 to be successful the industry needs to offer compelling reasons to make the switch. Like the conversion to HDTV, viewers would have to see that there will be an improvement in the viewer experiences. However, since most of ATSC 3.0's benefits help the broadcasters, there was concern that consumers may not buy enough ATSC 3.0-compatible TV sets.

“There are still a lot of unknown factors that broadcasters should approach in a thoughtful way, including identifying and satisfying requirements for new hardware, software, skills, and sales, traffic and billing processes,” Wilson said.

The survey was conducted in January, with 101 of 1,583 professionals invited to take part responding online.