Seer, Sage, Soothsayer Looks At 2023

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Take a hike Nostradamus. Step aside Jeanne Dixon. Move over Miss Cleo. With a reverential turban tip to the late Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, Kurznac the Magnificent is in the house.

What follows are my 2023 predictions for the television industry, especially when it comes to technology. Of course, I’m not really psychic—these predictions are based on equal parts of my observations and conversations with broadcasters throughout the year and my sense of humor. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is which.

In no particular order:

A broadcaster earns additional revenue from ATSC 3.0: Expect to see early, incremental deployment of 3.0-based data delivery over vast geographic areas and revenue from companies eager to leverage over-the-air broadcast to transmit their data.

Broader adoption of the cloud for production, master control and playout: Whether it’s a reporter in the field accessing files and footage for a story, a production company covering a sporting or entertainment event or a station looking for greater master control and playout efficiencies, the cloud will be where it’s at in 2023. That cloud, however, might be public, private, on-prem or a combination of any or all.

Cracks widen in traditional relationships: Sports— à la “Thursday Night Football”—will continue to find new homes over the top. Networks and local broadcasters also will continue to jockey as FAST channels and VOD OTT services chip away at the ties that bind.

Early indications of a TV news reboot emerge: As ties loosen, local broadcasters will give serious consideration to how they devote time during their broadcast day. Some will conclude there’s simply no viewer appetite for more news and will look for new spins on news presentation or entirely new ways to inform and entertain local audiences.

Rumbles grow in D.C. for Repack 2.0: I personally know of two occasions when those in the know have thrown out the prospect—one by no less than former FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly. With the wireless industry’s insatiable appetite for spectrum; the clear demonstration that multiple 3.0 broadcasters can successfully share the same stick (and channel assignment); and the perennial funding shortfalls of the federal government, look for “Repack 2.0” rumbles to intensify. Don’t be surprised if someone proposes paying for millions of consumer 3.0 dongles for 1.0 sets with a portion of auction proceeds.

Broadcast engineering availability crisis continues: Broadcast engineers keep getting older, more are deciding to retire every day, especially now that the repack is in the rear-view mirror. Efforts continue on multiple fronts to recruit new talent. But on the whole, it appears those leaving the industry far exceed those entering.

Trade show/industry gathering attendance continues to grow: While a far cry from yesteryear, attendance at major trade shows this year reminded tens of thousands of people of how important face-to-face meetings and networking are, even though video conferencing was and continues to be useful. Short of some unexpected calamity, look for attendance at these events to grow in 2023.

A deep fake slips by: Somehow, some where a deep fake slips by making air, ultimately causing a good deal of embarrassment and soul searching once the falsehood becomes widely recognized.

Local FAST channels gain traction: Experience with Free, Ad-Supported Television channels streamed to viewers grows, unlocking new revenue streams for stations. Content ranges from live coverage of popular high school and small college sports and repurposed library footage of local news and events to special interest channels and pop-up political and weather/disaster channels.

Sustainability concerns become unsustainable: It’s not that a clean environment or greater efficiency and the cost savings available aren’t important. It’s just that the U.S. Department of Energy announced in mid-December that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Dec. 5, 2022, achieved breakeven from a fusion reaction, paving the way for “clean fusion energy [in the future], which would be a game-changer for efforts to achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy.” In other words, small, incremental steps to achieve sustainability will pale in comparison to limitless clean energy. Ultimately, they will be regarded as futile.

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.