NBCU Now Lets You Rewind OTA Channels with NextGen TV

It’s the first real-world implementation of advanced NextGen TV functionality.

NBCU Now Lets You Rewind OTA Channels with NextGen TV

NBCUniversal now provides enhanced personalization and rewind functionality for select OTA TV channels. This is a major landmark for broadcast television, as it's the first real-world implementation of advanced NextGen TV functionality.

The NextGen TV standard (ATSC 3.0) promises to deliver 4K HDR over-the-air broadcasts with enhanced streaming-like functionality. Customers can access NextGen TV broadcasts for free with an ATSC 3.0 tuner and any old TV antenna. Now, six NBCU-owned stations are taking advantage of NextGen TV. Viewers can rewind or pause these channels in real-time. The channels will also show localized news or weather pop-ups, provide targeted emergency alerts, and offer viewers a selection of on-demand content.

These features work automatically for any viewer with an ATSC 3.0 tuner. However, NBCU's rollout only impacts NBC and Telemundo channels in four markets—New York (WNBC, WNJU), Los Angeles (KNBC), Philadelphia (WCAU), and Miami (WTVJ, WSCV). And, of course, interactive elements on OTA channels will be leveraged for data collection and targeted ads.


NBCU considers itself a leader in NextGen TV. The proof is in the pudding—NBCU is now the first broadcaster to introduce "personalization, hyper-localization and enhanced content capabilities" to over-the-air channels. It's a landmark move, a proof of concept for NextGen TV's capabilities, and a reminder that NextGen TV can be more than just "free 4K TV."

Unfortunately, the NextGen TV rollout has been extremely slow. Manufacturers refuse to sell TVs with built-in ATSC 3.0 tuners, broadcasters haven't transitioned to 4K, and most people are completely unaware of NextGen TV. Not to mention, the FCC requires extended support for legacy ATSC 1.0 channels, thereby limiting the amount of bandwidth available to ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

And while NBCU's actions are exciting, this is a clear sign of NextGen TV's obscurity. The FCC has failed to educate viewers or push the market toward total ATSC 3.0 adoption, leaving broadcasters, journalists, and influencers to pick up the slack. It's a far cry from the analog-to-digital transition of the 2000s—back then, manufacturers were forced to install digital tuners in TVs, the U.S. government handed out free digital tuner set-top boxes, and viewers were regularly informed of the switch to digital.

To reiterate, advanced NextGen TV functionality is currently limited to NBC and Telemundo stations in just four markets. NBCU says that a wider rollout will occur over the coming months.

Source: NBCU via NextTV

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