ATT TV - a little review

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by lparsons21, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Nope. I remember reading an article at Light Reading a few years back where one of Comcast's top guys said that the only way they would ever transmit 4K would be via IPTV. Didn't make sense to devote the bandwidth necessary for 4K QAM channels.

    A lot of folks don't realize the degree to which Comcast has already shifted toward IPTV. In many areas (including here) for over two years now new customers signing up for both broadband and TV service will often, by default, get the latter provisioned to them exclusively via IPTV using a new generation of IP-only X1 set-top boxes that record only to cloud DVR. They're basically just streaming devices. (You're also given an option to just use their Xfinity Stream app on your own Roku, Fire TV, etc.)

    The older generation of X1 boxes (which still constitute the majority in use) are actually hybrid and can do both QAM (i.e. they include actual tuners) and IPTV, with internal hard drives for DVR. But even on those, there's a handful of channels that are IP-only (and are therefore completely unavailable to pre-X1 QAM STBs and TiVos). And even if you have a physical X1 DVR, you have cloud DVR too, with your local recordings getting mirrored to the cloud so that they're accessible on other X1 boxes and via the Xfinity Stream app.

    Comcast is basically in a years-long slow evolution away from QAM to IPTV. At some point, who knows when, they'll just shut down QAM and reclaim that bandwidth for broadband. I think that will have additional network benefits too, in terms of simplifying the architecture.
     
  2. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Once a station launches an ATSC 3.0 broadcast, they must maintain their 1.0 signal for at least five years. After that, they can opt to shut it down. But I'm highly skeptical that many stations will do so that quickly as I think there will be too many of their OTA viewers still on 1.0 and they won't want to shut out all those viewers.

    The transition from analog NTSC to digital ATSC 1.0 took several years and that transition was mandated by the FCC, with government-subsidized digital tuners distributed to the public to encourage the switchover and a mandate that all new TVs include the new tuners. With things as they are now -- with 3.0 adoption purely voluntary on stations', manufacturers', and consumers' part -- I'm really not sure if 3.0 will ever gain sufficient buy-in to allow it to supplant 1.0.

    And then there's the question of whether MVPDs will strike carriage deals with local stations' new 3.0 signals in their cable channel packages in lieu of the older 1.0 signals. But the main reasons to do that would be superior picture and sound quality (e.g. 4K HDR, Atmos), which is something the networks can deliver for their shows directly through MVPD partners' on-demand platforms (and via their own OTT apps like Hulu, Paramount+, etc.), completely by-passing their affiliate stations.

    The whole system of national networks plus local affiliate stations plus MVPD distributors is so complicated, with so many business, technical and legal/regulatory considerations, that it makes innovation difficult. Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer OTT streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV+ have been doing nearly all their new content in 4K HDR for a long while now. I even noticed last night on Hulu that a lot of the recent content from the FX cable channel is available to stream in 4K. I wonder how long they'll hold out before offering new ABC content in 4K on Hulu even though none of their ABC affiliate stations will be able to broadcast in that format...
     
  3. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    UHD coverage started seven years ago and it seems like that's ample time to come up with something. There's surely a way that they could livestream the games with a simple app (or a theme on someone else's app). It comes down to figuring out how to monetize it and maybe put a hub together to navigate it.
     
  4. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    If just one person on every "node" is watching something, broadcasting is justified. The industry is just waiting for a channel to appear that is suitable for multicast. The Olympics is perhaps one such example.
     
  5. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    As I said before, in recent Olympics, NBCU used their own app for popular devices that featured livestreams of various Olympics events (as well as past events on-demand). I had thought it was a special NBC Olympics app but it looks like they just used their existing NBC Sports app. I used it on my Apple TV 4K during the 2018 Winter Olympics. I'm pretty sure you had to authenticate the app with cable TV service credentials for full access, but it may have offered some content free to anyone without logging in. NBCU didn't stream anything from previous Olympics in UHD via that app but there's no reason they couldn't choose to do so this time. The Fox Sports app has supported UHD live streams for years now.
     
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  6. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    So you are saying our local NBC station on ATSC 3.0 cannot transmit the Olympics in 4K just because their ATSC 1.0 transmitter cannot do so?
    I found out today that the Fox Sports app, had my LOCAL Fox station showing the Westminster Dog show in 4K even though the OTA signal was 720p. It looked a LOT better on the streaming app. Guess they cut to the local station for the commercials, and back to the network feed for the show.
     
  7. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    They could put the 4K feed up as a second signal on their ATSC 3.0 station, if there is space available and the 4K feed is available to the local station for rebroadcast. The simulcast of the ATSC 1.0 version must remain.

    Available through a network app does not mean it is (or will be) available to a station to rebroadcast.
     
  8. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Owing to the fact that the ATSC 3.0 stations had to be implemented as lighthouses (collections of channels from multiple stations), there's only one NBC station that may have room for a UHD stream (and they may have to off the two current streams to make 4K work).

    To my knowledge, the technology to link to Internet streams hasn't been much explored yet.
     
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  9. Steveknj

    Steveknj Icon

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    Back on topic. I got an update on my AT&T TV Osprey box this morning. Any idea what that was about?

    I did have a weird glitch last night. My son watched a show to almost the end last night. I wanted to watch the show a bit later, so I FF to the end and then chose Don't Delete. Then went back in and tried to watch from the beginning, but it showed that it was at the end, and brought me to the Delete/Don't Delete screen again. No way I could even rewind to the beginning. I ended up just deleting the show and recorded a later airing for me to watch. I can't say if that was related to this update or not.
     
  10. compnurd

    compnurd Hall Of Fame

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    they usually get a bug fix update once a month I dont show an update yet.. Still dated 4/16 (which i got Mid May)
     
  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    There is a simulcast requirement in place but thankfully it's not quite as onerous as you're saying. The rules really only require that if a local broadcaster puts their main channel on 3.0, then that same channel (i.e. same shows airing at the same time) must also remain available on 1.0. So they couldn't, for instance, put their NBC affiliate on 3.0 but not also have it on 1.0. But while the content must be the same, the audio/video format doesn't. The channel could be in 4K HDR with Atmos audio on 3.0 but just regular HD with stereo on 1.0. Here are the relevant bits of the law. Note specifically section (b)(1)(iii):

    (b) Simulcasting requirement. A Class A television station that chooses to air an ATSC 3.0 signal must simulcast the primary video programming stream of that signal in an ATSC 1.0 format. This requirement does not apply to any multicast streams aired on the ATSC 3.0 channel.

    (1) The programming aired on the ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal must be “substantially similar” to that aired on the ATSC 3.0 primary video programming stream. For purposes of this section, “substantially similar” means that the programming must be the same except for advertisements, promotions for upcoming programs, and programming features that are based on the enhanced capabilities of ATSC 3.0. These enhanced capabilities include:

    (i) Hyper-localized content (e.g., geo-targeted weather, targeted emergency alerts, and hyper-local news):

    (ii) Programming features or improvements created for the ATSC 3.0 service (e.g., emergency alert “wake up” ability and interactive program features);

    (iii) Enhanced formats made possible by ATSC 3.0 technology (e.g., 4K or HDR); and

    (iv) Personalization of programming performed by the viewer and at the viewer's discretion.

    (2) For purposes of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, programming that airs at a different time on the ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal than on the primary video programming stream of the ATSC 3.0 signal is not considered “substantially similar.”
     
  12. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. Way, way easier for a network to make their content available in 4K via an OTT app than to do it via their live linear channel. That's true for cable networks but *especially* true for broadcast nets that are tied to all those individual affiliate stations around the country.
     
  13. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    Try § 73.3801 Full power television simulcasting during the ATSC 3.0 (Next Gen TV) transition.
    It also allows "(iii) Enhanced formats made possible by ATSC 3.0 technology (e.g., 4K or HDR);" (Something I did not see when looking at this yesterday.)

    Now all we need is a broadcast network to actually create a 4K feed that is substantially similar to their main network feed. That is the bigger hurdle. A separate 4K production of the same events may not qualify.

    BTW: "(3) The “substantially similar” requirement in paragraph (b)(1) of this section will sunset on July 17, 2023." Which is the same as in the section you referenced for Class A stations. I wonder if Congress will extend that date or allow market forces to rule. With no must carry/consent to carry for ATSC 3.0 I expect most stations will maintain an ATSC 1.0 presence ... if only to remain on MVPDs. Or Congress will change the law and grant ATSC 3.0 stations the same rights as ATSC 1.0 stations.
     
  14. Steveknj

    Steveknj Icon

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    Another update this morning (2 in 2 days).
     
  15. compnurd

    compnurd Hall Of Fame

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    Whats your kernel version date
     
  16. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    The legal text referring to Class A was what I found first via a Google search but, yeah, it's the same as for full-power stations. I've been following ATSC 3.0 on a forum over at AVS for a few years now and knew that these were essentially the rules for TV stations in general.

    It's pretty plain that the text of the law states that the actual program content must be "the same". The ads can be different and the 3.0 version can differ from the 1.0 version in ways that allow it to take advantage of 3.0-specific features (e.g. 4K, HDR, targeted alerts, optional viewer interactivity/apps, etc.). But that's basically it. The actual video stream needs to be the same, frame-by-frame.

    How it would almost certainly operate is with the broadcast network sending out a master signal in 4K HDR, which the local affiliate would receive and branch into two different workflows for further processing. One stream would have the HDR stripped out and get down-rezzed to 1080i or 720p and get compressed and encoded in MPEG-2 for airing on their 1.0 tower. The other stream would remain in 4K HDR (although with a possible change in HDR format, e.g. from a less-common format to HDR10) and get compressed and encoded in HEVC for airing on their 3.0 tower. (Or, conversely, it might be taken down to 1080p or 1080p HDR for airing on the 3.0 tower if they didn't have enough available bandwidth to handle 4K. And in the sort of situations that exist now, where just about every 3.0 tower houses at least two stations, 4K probably isn't feasible. Which is one reason, I think, that the industry has said that 1080p HDR would be the targeted premium format for major network content aired on 3.0 for the foreseeable future.)

    Hmm, don't know. I know that stations that elect to begin broadcasting in 3.0 must maintain their 1.0 station for at least five years before they can shut it down. But as I've said many times in the past, I doubt that many stations will cease their 1.0 broadcast after only five years, though. I just don't think penetration will be high enough given the lack of a mandate that TV manufacturers include 3.0 tuners in their sets. And the big question is carriage of 3.0 stations on MVPDs. They can't force unpaid must-carry status but my understanding is that 3.0 stations can and will negotiate for paid carriage on MVPD systems, as just about all commercial 1.0 stations already do. (Local broadcasters will likely try to sell carriage of both their 1.0 and 3.0 signals together.) Comcast has already begun testing carriage of 3.0 signals to figure out how all the tech will work on their network.

    Seems that perhaps the 2023 sunset for the simulcast requirement is a way to let broadcasters do pretty much whatever they want with their 3.0 station after that point. Imagine a local broadcaster who has decided that 3.0 adoption just isn't happening -- hardly anyone is using a 3.0 tuner and no MVPDs have picked up the 3.0 version of their main channel (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc.). AFAIK, they'd be legally free to put a completely different channel on their 3.0 tower, perhaps even in low-bitrate SD, like a little diginet they own (e.g. Laff, Cozi, Comet, etc.). That might satisfy the licensing requirement that they broadcast at least one unencrypted free OTA TV stream. And it would leave the great majority of their bandwidth available for other uses, such as subscription TV channels (e.g. Evoca) or non-TV uses like datacasting to cars. One of the mods on the ATSC 3.0 forum over at AVS, Dr. Don (who has some experience in the local TV industry), seems to think that station groups are really hoping to strike deals with Detroit automakers to make 3.0 profitable.

    In the end, it's very likely IMO that 1.0 stations will never be turned off. We'll just end up with 1.0 stations with degraded picture quality (thanks to them being crammed onto fewer towers) while the other towers used for 3.0 will be mainly dedicated to uses other than free high-quality OTA TV, i.e. new revenue streams for the station owners. The lure of pristine 4K HDR available for free with a small indoor antenna is what helped pave the way for passage of the 3.0 legislation. But I'm beginning to question whether it was ever the true intentioned endgame.
     
  17. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    Five years after published in the Federal Register is what I found in the earlier searches. That could line up with a 2023 date. The end of the simulcast requirement would free stations up to have different content on their 3.0 feed and not need to do a downconvert. Keep the 1.0 feed running for the late adopters but lose the simulcast restrictions.

    The challenge for today is to have the network provide a "substantially similar" feed. We can wake the discussion in an appropriate thread when that occurs.
     
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  18. Steveknj

    Steveknj Icon

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    Does anyone know if there's a good source to see if / when AT&T TV is adding new channels/features? Outside of just looking through the lists of channels, I can't find a good source (like the Channel Anticipation thread here for DirecTV).
     
  19. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Anticipating offerings of streaming services is much more difficult as there is nothing like testing uplinks to tip one off to things afoot.

    Unless there is a channel that is added to an existing suite of channels, I wouldn't anticipate much activity until after the new management takes over. It may happen, but I don't think it likely.
     
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  20. compnurd

    compnurd Hall Of Fame

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    Reddit has been pretty good with news before it drops
     
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