When It Comes to Next Gen TV, You’ve Got to Sell the Sizzle

Did you happen to see T-Mobile’s commercial for its 600 MHz wireless network a couple of months ago?

“T-Mobile knows nobody buys this,” the announcer intones as the video shows a smartphone. Then he says, “for that,” and the picture changes to a cell tower.

“You buy it for this,” he says, with the video showing a young woman dolled up with Animoji ears, nose and tongue; “this,” with a video of a guy and his barber enjoying a baseball game on a phone; “this,” a picture of an online purchase of a horse head mask and the recipient wearing it as he sits on his couch; “and this,” as the picture shows a smartphone displaying “Your Food Is Arriving,” cutting to a delivery car pulling up.

Imagine that. A company actually promoting its 600 MHz wireless network, or more accurately all of the great things that a 600 MHz 5G-ready network can make happen for people. In other words, not selling the “steak” but the “sizzle” of its new wireless network.

How did the previous occupants of that same spectrum promote the sizzle of its 600 MHz product? On the whole, pretty well. Who can’t recall promos for NFL and MLB games and championships, the Olympics, political debates and conventions, syndicated game shows, network dramas and comedies, local news teams and stories? The list goes on and on.

However, with the dawn of Next Gen TV, the game has changed. No longer will it be enough to promote upcoming programming; it will soon become as important, if not more so, to sell the benefits of the 3.0 wireless network—in other words “the sizzle.”

It’s easy to visualize a promo touting the wakeup feature of Next Gen TV alerting a sleeping family to life-threatening weather event. Or, a senior citizen customizing his TV’s audio so he can better hear dialog. Or, an immigrant family accessing dialog in its native tongue (not Spanish because that’s already commonly done on SAP channels today).

These only scratch the surface of 3.0 sizzles with so many other possibilities, including interactivity, personalized content and portable/mobile reception, left to explore.

Some might say it’s too soon to begin selling the sizzle of Next Gen TV. Perhaps, but being early isn’t stopping T-Mobile from promoting its 5G service. According to the company’s own website, it’s not waiting for 100% market coverage to begin selling 5G. For the rollout this month, the company is only covering 60 percent of the U.S. population with its 5G network. And even if it is early, it’s not too soon to get serious about planning how best to sell the 3.0 sizzle.

The television industry can’t leave promoting the sizzle to the Antenna Man on YouTube. (Nice job Antenna Man on your Nov. 12 video.) Nor, can the industry leave it to the Advanced Television Systems Committee with its ATSC 3.0 Next Generation Broadcasting animation. Two-minute stories on the noon news, won’t cut it, and neither will leaving selling the sizzle to set manufacturers.

If the public is to get excited about Next Gen TV, it will be up to TV broadcasters—on a group-wide or industry-wide basis and the professionals they hire to help—to sell its sizzle.   

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.