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NextGen TV broadcasters pick Roxi’s FastStream for interactive channels

One Las Vegas TV station will demonstrate the unique capabilities of FastStream by deploying an interactive content channel for local news broadcasts.

One Las Vegas TV station will demonstrate the unique capabilities of FastStream by deploying an interactive content channel for local news broadcasts.

Las Vegas television station KSNV will be one of the first to use Roxi's FastStream technology to deploy an interactive news channel. (Courtesy image)
Las Vegas television station KSNV will be one of the first to use Roxi’s FastStream technology to deploy an interactive news channel. (Courtesy image)

Several independent commercial broadcasters have signed on to use Roxi’s FastStream technology to power new interactive content streams through the next-generation broadcast standard NextGen TV.

The announcement was made Monday morning at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, during which Roxi and the broadcast consortium Pearl TV said FastStream’s technology will allow viewers with NextGen TV-compatible tuners to restart in-progress shows from the beginning and tap into other interactive features like content skipping, without having to download a separate app.

The first interactive content streams that will be baked into NextGen TV channels are Roxi’s own line-up of interactive music channels, which will soon deploy on television stations owned by the E. W. Scripps Company and other Pearl TV members.

Roxi is also working with Sinclair, Inc. to deploy a new interactive news stream on Las Vegas station KSNV (Channel 3, NBC), which was also announced on Monday.

“These new channels on NextGen TV deliver a revolutionary viewing experience to consumers, one which can drive demand for NextGen TVs while allowing ATSC 3.0 broadcasters to expand their market share of the growing connected TV ad market,” Anne Schell, the managing director of Pearl TV, said in a statement. (ATSC 3.0 is the technical name for the broadcast standard that operates under the consumer brand name NextGen TV in the United States.)

In an interview with The Desk last week, Roxi CEO Rob Lewis said the intention of deploying FastStream and related technology is to draw younger audiences back to broadcast TV at a time when YouTube and TikTok are the dominant platforms.

Lewis said features available on apps like YouTube and TikTok allow consumers to restart, pause, rewind and fast-forward through content, and younger consumers have come to expect that same from other video platforms.

For years, broadcast TV has been at a disadvantage because content is delivered linearly, with no way to restart, pause or skip through content.

Roxi CEO Rob Lewis.
Roxi CEO Rob Lewis. (Courtesy image)

“When you do these focus groups with younger consumers — people under the age of 35 — and you ask them about their TV habits and broadcast TV, they come back with some really negative comments,” Lewis said.

Lewis remarked on one such focus group where he asked a young man for his perspective on broadcast TV, to which the participant remarked that he didn’t see the point in watching TV on broadcast over a streaming platform.

“I asked, what do you mean? And he remarked, well, when I turn on a program, it has already started. And when there’s a bit of content I don’t want to watch, I can’t skip past it,” Lewis remembered. “That gave me the realization of how broken linear TV is for younger consumers, which are becoming a large part of the population.”

FastStream and other Roxi technology solves this problem by tapping into NextGen TV’s reliance on connected TV platforms. On their own, NextGen TV tuners deliver programming the same way it has always been delivered — live, at all once to the viewer. But when those tuners are connected to the Internet, NextGen TV unlocks additional potentials and features without the need for separate software or apps.

Lewis said FastStream allows NextGen TV broadcasters to ingest content from a production facility or television studio, which resides within a “drop zone” operated via Amazon Web Services servers. That drop zone can also include advertisements that will be inserted at different break points, and metadata used for measurement and reporting.

Data transmitted via an electronic program guide tells NextGen TV viewers what content is available — from live channels transmitted via broadcast signals to interactive content and channels available to stream via FastStream.

When a user selects interactive channels or shows powered by FastStream, the TV set fetches it from the drop zone, then transmits it over the Internet to the viewer’s TV set — content, ads and metadata all included.

FastStream, a technology developed by Roxi, allows broadcasters to transmit interactive content and channels to connected TVs that have NextGen TV broadcast tuners installed. (Courtesy image, Graphic by The Desk)
FastStream, a technology developed by Roxi, allows broadcasters to transmit interactive content and channels to connected TVs that have NextGen TV broadcast tuners installed. (Screen capture via Zoom presentation/Courtesy image)

Some of the first viewers who will benefit from FastStream capabilities are those who have Sony TVs in their homes. All newer-model Sony TVs have included NextGen TV tuners for the past several years, and the company remains committed to supporting the technology over the long term.

“Sony is excited to be delivering NextGen TV across its entire range of U.S. television,” Nick Colsey, the Vice President of Business Development at Sony Electronics, said in a statement. “The introduction of these innovative and Interactive TV Channels in the U.S. market will help customers enjoy their Sony Bravia TVs even more.”

Broadcasters are equally excited by the prospect that FastStream and Roxi’s interactive channels bring.

“We all agree that it’s imperative we discover new ways to engage viewers, especially younger audiences who are not watching television the same way their parents do, ” Kerry Oslund, the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Scripps, said on Monday. “This partnership with Roxi allows for an interactive experience that brings new and exciting ways to engage with our audiences.”

Lewis says FastStream’s approach to coupling interactive content streams with NextGen TV broadcast signals allows broadcasters to rapidly deploy dozens or hundreds of content streams based on their specific needs and the desires of their viewers. For instance, a company like Scripps or Sinclair — which already distribute their local news channels across streaming apps like Local Now, Tubi and NewsOn — can repurpose those same broadcasts and news clips using FastStream, then deploy them to viewers over NextGen TV without the need for a separate app.

“If you have 10 times, 100 times, 1 million times increase in scale, you just let Roxi and Amazon Web Services deal with the scaling issue,” Lewis said. “The part that impacts a broadcaster’s ability to deliver more content is the speed at which they can integrate with a content owner. That’s a pretty big task, especially for local TV news broadcasters that have 100 channels, but it’s not a particularly big task for us at all.”

Lewis said he’s particularly excited about the prospect of drawing younger viewers into local news content because he feels that type of information is particularly impactful and empowering to communities. He noted the decline of newspapers has created information deserts that could ultimately be served by hyper-local content delivered by broadcasters who take advantage of FastStream’s technology to repurpose and rapidly deploy interactive news shows and clips that serve those communities.

“If we’re able to take existing content streams, immediately repurpose them for interactive TV experiences — that not only attracts a consumer that we’ve historically failed to attract, but also attracts a different kind of advertiser that the industry has failed to attract, too,” Lewis offered. “Then, suddenly, we can reverse the trends around local TV news income and journalistic spend and budgets quite materially in a relatively short period of time, sending that curve in the opposite direction. And I think that can only really be a really very good thing, indeed, because…it’s a concerning picture where we can’t cover what’s going on from a news perspective, journalistically, properly.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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