Over-the-Air 4K TV broadcast demo coming to CES 2016

by on December 24, 2015

Stephan Jukic – December 24, 2015

While 4K TV technology advances at breakneck speed and sales of the televisions also move along and grow briskly, the content side of things has been a bit more lackluster. This has applied somewhat to streaming and hard media 4K ultra HD content and it has been a practical rule of the land for broadcast 4K video, something which we have barely seen emerge in any commercial, viable form.

Well, at least as far as CES 2016 is concerned, some push in the direction of broadcast, over-the-air is needed and a demonstration of the technology in action is going to be happening.

The broadcast planned for this next year’s huge Consumer Electronics Show will use ATSC 3.0, the next-gen version of the U.S TV broadcasting standard that’s now widely utilized and the 4K broadcast in question will be sent from the Sinclair Broadcasting transmitter near Las Vegas, to various 4K TVs at the CES event floor.

ATSC 3.0 uses an IP data platform for much greater flexibility in usage than current standard broadcast systems and users of the system can send out several video streams of varying bandwidths at the same time, while also adding in additional data streams of other types. In other words, ATSC 3.0 is powerful and exactly the kind of system that 4K could flow smoothly through.

the new, IP-based and 4K-friendly ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standard

the new, IP-based and 4K-friendly ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standard

The video in the demo transmission will be encoded using a scalable high efficiency video coding (SHVC) codec, somewhat similar to the online streaming technology of HEVC, which is used by streaming content providers like Netflix, and it will also include high dynamic range data so that any HDR 4K TVs at the CES 2016 event can show the transmitted video in its full, rich range of contrast and color.

The importance of this demo lies in the fact that several of the new features showcased with it aren’t actually yet supported by current broadcast standards. These include the obvious like 4K resolution and HDR and also other technologies which help create a vastly superior level of picture quality which is now being seen with many internet-streamed 4K ultra HD content sources.

With the inclusion of these technologies in the demonstration, the flexibility of an IP data system like ATSC 3.0 will be shown to all who are interested and thus demonstrate how broadcasting can work as well as internet streaming at delivering what is in effect the next generation of content.

This demo will be the second of its kind to happen in Las Vegas, since Sinclair already ran a test demo of the same type on a smaller scale for a delegation of Korean TV executives which were visiting the city.

Furthermore, other still earlier ATSC 3.0 demos have been done in other U.S cities in 2015, with 4K content being sent in some of them as well.

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  • aenalyst
    December 25, 2015 at 2:22 am

    The article talks about varying bandwidths. What would be ATSC 3.0 low bandwidth requirement be?


    • Stephen
      December 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Hello Aenalyst. While I’m far from an expert on this and the story is more of a general coverage piece than a detailed analysis, To my knowledge, the bandwidth range of ATSC 3.0 is about 28Mbps and up, capping at something above 45Mbps. It’s designed with a particular focus on HEVC (H.265) encoded 4K video at 60fps and has also been developed with an eye towards the emergence of 8k resolution in transmitted broadcast video within the next few years.


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