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NextGen TV rolls out in San Francisco

Nexstar's KRON-TV is serving as the ATSC 3.0 "lighthouse" for its own station and five others.

Nexstar's KRON-TV is serving as the ATSC 3.0 "lighthouse" for its own station and five others.

The next-generation broadcast television standard ATSC 3.0, better known as “NextGen TV,” is now available to digital television viewers in the San Francisco area.

The switch was flipped on NextGen TV this week, according to officials with the broadcast consortium that is overseeing the development and deployment of the standard across the country. San Francisco is one of the largest television markets with access to NextGen TV.

Nexstar Media Group’s KRON-TV (Channel 4) is serving as the “lighthouse” station for NextGen TV, broadcasting a signal ATSC 3.0 signal that is simulcasting the main feeds of six local television stations. While KRON broadcasts as the ATSC 3.0 lighthouse, its ATSC 1.0 signal will air on a digital subchannel of KTVU (Channel 2, Fox).

The six stations that are simulcasting on ATSC 3.0 in the San Francisco market are:

  • KTVU (Channel 2, Fox) in Oakland
  • KRON (Channel 4) in San Francisco
  • KPIX (Channel 5, CBS) in San Francisco
  • KGO-TV (Channel 7, ABC) in San Francisco
  • KNTV (Channel 11, NBC) in San Jose
  • KDTV (Channel 14, Univision) in San Francisco

The ATSC 3.0 signal of the six television stations can be received by viewers who have a television set with an integrated ATSC 3.0 or NextGen TV tuner. In the future, standalone ATSC 3.0 tuners will be available to purchase for those with older TVs, similar to the digital converter boxes that were made to support ATSC 1.0 signals on analog-only television sets.

The consortium backing NextGen TV as the next broadcast standard tout many benefits, including hyper-local advertising, targeted emergency alerts and the eventual offering of ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) video signals. Virtually none of those benefits are currently available on the ATSC 3.0 signals broadcasting in about 60 metropolitan areas; instead, in most areas, the ATSC 3.0 signal is merely simulcasting the high-definition feeds of stations that are already offered through the older, ATSC 1.0 standard.

Such is the case in San Francisco, where the five network stations and KRON are simply simulcasting their high-definition video feed over ATSC 3.0. Most of the country’s major broadcasters have committed to simulcasting their older ATSC 1.0 signal for several years after ATSC 3.0 becomes available in a television market.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).