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The Key Elements in Every Next Gen TV Strategy

Television broadcasters are the kings of over-the-air video content delivery. After all, it was their networks and programming that first got us excited about watching on-screen content. And, they’ve remained dedicated to delivering interesting and informative local and national programming for over 70 years.

Today, we’re watching an industry that’s moving into the era of Next Gen TV.

It’s clear this next evolution in television standards, technology, and services will give broadcasters the edge needed to compete with relative newcomers to the content delivery business. That’s because broadcasters will be able to dramatically improve picture quality and offer more flexible content delivery to a wider variety of devices. They will also be able to improve the customer experience with innovative, geotargeted advertising and subscription models.

But, to realize these benefits, broadcasters must adopt the right strategy.

Here are the key elements every broadcaster’s strategy should include:

The Right Towers, at the Right Height, in the Right Locations

Today, TV stations broadcast from a tall, centralized tower site to broadly distribute their signal. While the initial phases of Next Gen TV evolution will continue to rely on single towers that are upgraded to support Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) 3.0 technology, broadcasters looking to take full advantage of Next Gen TV opportunities must evolve to Single Frequency Networks (SFNs).

SFNs are based on continued use of the main tower site, but are augmented with additional transmit sites. The key here is for broadcasters to choose the best combination of tower sites for the services being offered, the target market for growth, and the local geography.

Broadcasters can’t simply construct new towers wherever needed for SFNs. There are far too many zoning, permitting, regulatory, and financial hurdles to overcome in any reasonable timeframe.

Instead, broadcasters will have to rely on existing towers to get Next Gen TV services on the air. But, here’s the catch. Many existing towers were built to support smaller wireless equipment, not high-power broadcast equipment. That means most wireless towers that are part of SFNs will have to be adapted to meet the equipment and Radio Frequency (RF) requirements for Next Gen TV.

Broadcasters will also have to carefully consider tower location. They will need the ability to choose from a large number of towers in many locations to ensure towers are in the best places to meet and deploy their network business objectives.

However, even access to a large number of towers is not enough. The towers must also be in the right height range—300 to 700 feet tall. Towers in this range are typically radio broadcast towers, or wireless towers built in the days when mobile network operators were mainly looking to provide voice-only coverage to broad geographic areas. Very few tower providers can offer a broad portfolio of towers in this critical height range.

Speed to Market

The content delivery market is becoming more crowded every day. As a potential customer for these viewing services, I can see how easy it is for people to be overwhelmed and confused by the sheer number of options out there.

Broadcasters are already trusted and familiar names to most of us. The faster broadcasters can roll out their Next Gen TV services, the faster people will adopt them and the more successful their offerings will be.

An Expert Partner

That’s how we arrive at the need for an expert partner. Even this quick review of tower requirements makes it quite clear broadcasters will need a fair bit of help on the road to Next Gen TV.

To minimize risks, broadcasters will need a partner that:

  • Understands Next Gen TV market opportunities and business models
  • Has deep expertise in broadcast infrastructure and RF transmission requirements
  • Offers the extensive tower portfolio needed to deploy the optimal SFNs
  • Knows how to adapt existing towers to support broadcast infrastructure
  • Brings real-world experience gained through other SFN deployments
  • Provides operational and management services for SFN sites

To learn more about Next Gen TV and how American Tower helps you prepare for this major evolution in broadcasting, check out our solutions for broadcasters and Next Gen TV.

Peter Starke
With over 30 years of broadcast tower experience, Peter Starke led the initiative to bring NEXTGEN TV to market at American Tower.

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