TWIN FALLS, Idaho—Two LPTV stations here are poised to launch ATSC 3.0 and make Twin Falls the fourth market to bring Evoca TV, the NextGen TV-based OTA-OTT hybrid pay television service, to viewers.
All that’s needed is for the stations, Ventura Broadcasting-owned KVUI and KPIF, to receive final approval from the FCC for their conversion to 3.0. Once the switch is flipped, Twin Falls will become the smallest market on-air with NextGen TV.
“We had this opportunity to partner with Ventura to bring Evoca to Twin Falls, and this is your classic small market that’s just starved for competition,” says Evoca TV CEO Todd Achilles. “What I think is super interesting is, a lot like Boise, it’s a majority OTA market. It’s 40% OTA, 25% cable and 35% satellite.”
The service will deliver about 60 channels in Twin Falls, which joins Boise, Idaho, Phoenix and Colorado Springs as Evoca TV markets. The channels will include regional sports network ROOT Sports, making Evoca TV “the best, lowest cost way to watch the Seattle Mariners, the Utah Jazz, the Vegas Golden Knights and Gonzaga basketball,” he says.
The first couple of hundred Twin Falls subscribers will pay $9.50 per month for life. Subsequent subscribers will be charged $49 per month. In addition to the service, subscribers receive a set-top box capable of receiving 3.0 and 1.0 OTA signals and over-the-top NextGen TV service as well as an antenna if needed.
While Evoca TV is a hybrid 3.0 service leveraging broadcast and broadband delivery, premium, live content is transmitted over the air because of limited broadband availability and pricing constraints faced by those in small markets and rural communities.
“If you’re trying to find an alternative to cable TV, and you want to do a streaming provider, you’re going to blow through your data caps,” he says. “So people get an extra $50 a month charge [from their ISP]. It becomes super expensive,” he says.
“So for us, the vast majority of hours watched go over the air in a market like Twin Falls so we don’t put that burden on an expensive and narrow broadband connection.”
Like other broadcasters, Evoca TV O&Os and Evoca TV affiliates, must offer the public at least one free channel. Between the Boise and Twin Falls markets, Evoca will reach about half of the K-through-12 students in the state with Evoca Learn, which offers virtual field trips. Another free OTA channel, Evoca Path will launch soon with a focus on possible future career paths for students.
Achilles sees the free channels as well as those offered as part of Evoca TV’s subscription package as closing the service gap for those in small towns. “These folks in small communities are kind of second-class citizens in terms of availability of advanced services. That’s why we are excited to come to Twin Falls and bring great content at a great price,” he says.
A key part of the Evoca TV offering is the set-top box TV receiver. To date, the supply chain disruptions that have plagued businesses ranging from car and appliance makers to CE companies have not seriously disrupted the rollout plans of Evoca TV.
“It’s definitely made it a lot tougher, and we have supply constraints. But they haven’t impacted the launch schedule too much. We are careful about how hard we put our foot on the gas in terms of marketing the service. We have to be a little more conservative there. But, we’re still watching markets grow,” says Achilles.
By the second half of 2022, Achilles expects the availability of chips to loosen up. “We’ve also got a second supplier of our Android set-top box. That’ll help to give us a little more flexibility in terms of getting units,” he says.
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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.
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