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Broadcast’s Future Depends On Consumer Electronics

Tom Butts, Editor-in-Chief,
As the 2015 International CES was winding down, there was enough news out of the show indicated that—when it comes to gaining a foothold with millennials who disdain the concept of “television”—broadcast television has its work cut out for it.

Never mind that the organization that sponsors the event is actively campaigning for the death of the medium; it’s up to us to demonstrate to consumers that broadcast television is still very much alive, vibrant and relevant. Fortunately there were a few signs from at the show that some innovative consumer electronics vendors are responding.

The concept of coordinating broadcast technology with consumer electronics is not new; the rollout of television (including HDTV) was begun by broadcasters, who created the content that spurred the success of the format, resulting in increased TV sales. A decade after the debut of HTDV, however, broadcasters’ attempt to roll out a new mobile broadcast technology was thwarted by the consumer electronics industry’s reluctance to integrate compatible technology and now the ATSC mobile DTV landscape is quietly fading away to irrelevance.

Today, consumers—including the all-important millennials—are not only not interested in broadcast television, they’re increasingly ignoring the whole concept of television altogether, preferring to get their content via OTT and watching it on their own schedules on mobile devices. Broadcast- related products like Tablo, TabletTV and over-the-air DVR products like ChannelMaster’s DVR+ and TiVo’s Roamio, are quietly garnering increased interest among cord cutters. These products—along with publicity campaigns from the likes of Antennas Direct and other TV antenna makers— are gaining a foothold among many younger viewers who are just discovering that television can be “free.”

If all runs according to schedule, we will see [development of] the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard—which makes mobile reception a priority—begin its accelerated rollout this year, a timetable that is being dictated by the rapidly changing marketplace. If done right, we’ll see the value of broadcast greatly increase in the consumers’ mindset and the consumer electronics vendors will no longer be able to ignore us.

Tom Butts
Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.