BOISE, Idaho—Evoca TV, the NextGen TV-based OTA-OTT hybrid pay-TV service, has announced it will be bringing its service to Twin Falls, Idaho, over the next few months.
Todd Achilles, company CEO, also announced the launch of a 24/7 Basque-language channel for the sizable Basque community in Boise and Evoca Learn, a new free-to-air ATSC 3.0 programming service to address the educational needs of children and adults. This was all shared during the virtual ATSC 3.0 Summit presented by Next|TV, Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, TV Tech and TVB Europe.
“We’re going to be moving next door into the Twin Falls DMA, which is a small DMA in south central Idaho,” he said. “There’s a similar sort of dynamic ... [in Twin Falls as in] Boise, a TV desert,” he said, adding his company will be announcing Evoca TV rollouts in other markets over the next couple of months.
Interviewed during the session by Dave Arland, president of Arland Communications, Achilles said the Basque channel is a natural fit for Boise. “You know the Basque community is a big part of … what makes the Boise area special,” he said. Some 15,000 people of Basque descent live in Boise.
Programming will come directly from a broadcaster in the Basque autonomous region of northern Spain, he added.
The Evoca Learn initiative was prompted by a desire to assist communities in educating children and the public at large during a time when educators are looking for solutions to reach students who have been asked to learn from home, he said.
The steady decline in the ability of schools to organize student field trips, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has left a vacuum in the education of K-12 students, said Achilles.
Evoca Learn for kids will draw on a rich library of content—much of which has been developed during the pandemic in the absence of patrons—by cultural institutions like museums. “There’s a ton of data that shows field trips are just phenomenal learning opportunities,” he explained.
The educational service for kids will have an element of interactivity. Students will be presented with quizzes following the field trips to gauge what they’ve learned and keep them engaged, he added.
Evoca Learn for adults will help people upgrade their job skills as the economies in their communities transition, he said.
“You know the numbers are pretty staggering,” said Achilles. “There’s 32 million working age Americans that don’t even have an associate’s degree.” Another 75 million have an associates or bachelor’s degree but “know where they are working could be in transition.”
During the session, Achilles played a video of a humorous promo running in the Boise market emphasizing the hybrid OTT-OTA nature of the service, its comparatively low price and ease of connecting the Evoca TV Scout set-top box to an OTA antenna and the internet.
Evoca TV subscribers in Boise have expressed a bit of surprise about the high quality of video they receive. “You know the No. 1 thing [people comment about] is the quality of the video,” he said.
Broadcasters around the country have taken note of Evoca TV as well. “A lot of them have a second stick in a town that’s … really underutilized, and they’re not monetizing,” he said. Interest from broadcasters about launching Evoca TV themselves spans the universe of TV broadcasters from those in small and mid-size markets to large markets, he added.
Achilles, who comes to broadcasting from the wireless industry, said he has been impressed by the willingness of broadcasters to collaborate on the launch of ATSC 3.0, which he described as ushering in “a total rebirth of broadcasting.”
“It’s really an exciting time,” he said.
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