TV may finally be going truly mobile once ATSC 3.0 arrives en masse and the Sinclair Broadcast Group is looking to make that happen just a bit sooner with an offer to give free mobile receiver chips to smartphone makers. More specifically, Sinclair wants to give a million of its ATSC 3.0 standards-adherent chips to any handset maker that will commit itself to including the technology in future devices. ATSC 3.0 is a standard created by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). The standard is expected to fully support mobile, 3D, 5K, HDR, high frame rate and wide color gamut television broadcasting. It is intended to significantly enhance broadcasting in both fixed scenarios, such as to a living room television, and to bring true broadcasting to mobile. Sinclair announced its intentions at the annual meeting of the ATSC, which took place on May 17 in Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately, the new standards aren't 100 percent backward compatible with the previous technology used in broadcasting, so it will still depend on broadcasters themselves to implement new ways to get the signal out to users. That said, the offer from Sinclair shows a step in the right direction for those who want to stream TV shows without necessarily having to rely on individually packaged web-based solutions. Since the most prominent smartphone manufacturers have already revealed their flagship devices for the year, however, it could be several months before a phones equipped with the chip start hitting the market. More importantly, while a million chips could serve as a tempting incentive for smartphone makers since it takes some of the cost off of device production, compared to having to buy all of the chips to include the new technology, negotiations will still need to take place for ATSC 3.0 chips beyond that.
According to Mark Aitken, Sinclair's VP of advanced technology, the company's "mobile-first" approach to broadcasting is not "incongruent" with others in the industry. Mobile capabilities, he points out, have been available from ATSC 1.0. Sinclair's approach is simply more aggressive and it took both time and technological advancements to reach a point where the ideas behind mobile television were feasible. That aggressive, mobile-first approach may also be the safest bet for Sinclair since other companies have already been looking at, creating, and implementing less traditional, software-based solutions for bringing TV to mobile devices.