New research from US broadcast research company SmithGeiger found that consumers demonstrated "a significant willingness to spend more on a smart TV and accelerate purchase windows" when the benefits of new broadcast standard ATSC 3.0 were explained to them. The study was commissioned by Verance, a provider of broadcast technology.
ATSC 3.0 is a new broadcast standard designed to enable a new set of services. It was described by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai thus: "Imagine a world in which TV broadcasts of your favorite show or new programs were delivered in Ultra High Definition and immersive audio. Imagine a world in which programming was hyper-localized and broadcasters could deliver niche content to specific geographic areas within a station's signal areas. Imagine a world that offered Americans with disabilities far better accessibility options for experiencing broadcast television. Imagine a world in which every consumer smartphone could serve as an over-the-air programming device." (See FCC Moves Forward With New Broadcast Standard and Broadcasters Excited but Uncertain About ATSC 3.0.)
Here's the list of ATSC 3.0 features the company presented to respondents:
Watching favorite shows in high-resolution and immersive audio
Being able to start programs at the beginning even after they have already started
Advanced emergency alerts based on location
Personalized on-screen guide with recommendations
On-screen search of VoD, streaming services and over-the-air TV
Fast-forward or rewind to any scene on any show or sporting event
Zoom in and choose camera angles when watching sports
Custom home screens based on viewer preferences
And alerts when favorite shows, sporting events or weather reports are airing
According to the study, the benefits of ATSC 3.0 helped convince consumers to spend $205 more than they originally planned on their smart TVs (from $905 to $1,155). And the likelihood they would purchase such a TV in the next 12 months also rose -- from 55% to 74%.
Among those who had no intention of purchasing a smart TV, 45% decided they would be interested in purchasing one after understanding the features offered by the new broadcast standard.
SmithGeiger surveyed 1,201 US broadband subscribers between April 5-7. The survey was conducted online. The average age of respondents was 41.3. The income distribution of respondents was higher than average: half of all respondents had annual incomes between $50,000 and $99,000, with 23% earning $30,000-$49,000, 19% earning $100,000-$149,000 and 8% earning in excess of $150,000.
The listed features are appealing, but it should be said that both pay-TV providers and Internet streaming providers are already offering or working on developing the same features. And they are further along than most broadcasters. So in a sense, ATSC 3.0 would only help broadcasters try and catch up with other TV/video delivery platforms.
The biggest advantage broadcasters have however, is that they are free-to-air services. Given the historically high penetration of pay-TV in the US, few households have bothered with putting up an antenna on their roof and trying to get signals that way. But for those homes that are able to get clear signals -- and many are not, which is why the cable industry became a major force in the first place -- some of the most watched content (from the big local broadcast channels) is available free. Coupled with some of the new features promised by ATSC 3.0, consumers could have access to an attractive combination of services at no monthly cost.
Giving up cable networks such as ESPN, USA, Discovery, TNT/TBS etc. will not appeal to some, but for others considering cutting the cord, this could be a compelling development.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation