The authoritative news source for communications regulation
'Test Suite' Funded With NAB

Details Murky on What Minimally Qualifies an ATSC 3.0 TV Set for NEXTGEN TV Logo 

In choosing NEXTGEN TV for the go-to-market messaging behind ATSC 3.0 consumer products to be introduced in 2020 (see 1909190066), CTA "ended up with a name and a logo I think we are very happy with and have reviewed with partners,” Brian Markwalter, senior vice president-research and standards, told us. “The collective industry is excited.”

CTA officially unveiled the logo Thursday at its Technology and Standards Forum in Los Angeles. The logo contains the NEXTGEN TV name spelled mostly in lower-case letters, with concentric circles and what appears to be the depiction of an antenna symbolizing over-the-air TV broadcasts.

The association worked with an Indiana design firm, Links Creative Alliance, and “tested names, both in a positive sense and a negative sense,” said Markwalter. CTA asked consumers which of the candidate names “best correlate” with 3.0's capabilities, as they were described to the respondents, he said. “Coming at it from both angles, NEXTGEN TV was most positive and least negative.” He declined to name the losing contenders.

Of the many names that CTA and Links tested with consumers, NEXTGEN TV “kept bubbling to the top,” said LG executive John Taylor. He chairs the CTA Video Division board that supervised the selection process and ratified the name and logo.

Two rounds of consumer research were conducted online to test names and logo "styles with color variations,” said Markwalter. CTA canvassed more than 1,300 U.S. consumers in each round, “with an oversample of over-the-air antenna users,” he said.

The logo’s framers didn’t do “a lot of deep thinking” about the fact that NEXTGEN TV is ubiquitous industry jargon for 3.0 and has been so for years, said Markwalter. It did lend some confidence that the name “that was comfortable for the industry to use was also comfortable for consumers,” he said.

The logo “will be made available under license for use on products that pass the certification test,” said Markwalter. “We’ve partnered with NAB to fund the development” of a “test suite,” he said. The suite and license materials will be available right away, he said.

The logo license program “will allow self-certification by the manufacturer or testing by a third party,” said Markwalter. “In either case, the test specification will identify which test cases and associated test material must be run and passed by the manufacturer.”

Details are murky on what 3.0 capabilities a TV would minimally need to qualify for the logo. TVs “will be required to support both the broadcast and the broadband elements” of 3.0, including “interactive apps,” said Markwalter. The 3.0 suite of standards is “huge and has a long life in front of it,” he said. “I don’t think anyone expects” certified TVs to support all of 3.0's numerous capabilities at the start, he said.

The NEXTGEN TV test suite exercises a wide range of video and audio capabilities,” emailed Markwalter in a summary that, he said, clarifies “the types of TV capabilities” the suite “is intended to confirm.” The capabilities include HDR and SDR at resolutions ranging from 480p to 2160p, compressed using H.265, plus Dolby AC-4 audio “with 5.1 and 7.1.4 surround sound configurations,” he said.

The test suite also “addresses” high frame rate video, captioning, multiple-language support and “various transitions among the resolution and dynamic range options,” said Markwalter. The suite “will also ensure TVs run basic applications in support of the interactive capabilities found in the ATSC 3.0 standard,” he said.

AC-4's “dialogue enhancement” feature scored high in consumer focus groups when Magid Research tested 3.0 for Pearl TV in Phoenix (see 1904110037). But after several tries, we still couldn’t establish from CTA Thursday whether a TV would require that and other enhanced audio and video features to qualify for the logo.

CTA plans to file applications at the Patent and Trademark Office to register the NEXTGEN name and logo as certification marks, said Markwalter. PTO records show 138 active trademarks or pending applications containing “NEXTGEN,” none in the consumer tech field. An Ohio firm owns the 2014 trademark for “NEXTGEN TECHNOLOGY,” and licenses it to Valvoline for a motor oil called NextGen that's fashioned from recycled materials.