What is NEXTGEN TV? KSAT Explains

Local broadcasters, including KSAT, are making the switch. We explain what it means for you (and us!)

The way people watch TV is changing.

Streaming television via the internet has made an increasing number of viewers accustomed to watching what they want when they want it.

In other words: on demand.

Local broadcasters haven’t had the ability to compete in that realm in a way that’s inclusive to all viewers.

Until now.

The perks of NEXTGEN TV

People who watch KSAT using an antenna are what’s called “over-the-air” viewers.

“It’s great quality. It’s the best quality you get because it’s a pure stream,” said Anne Schelle, Managing Director of Pearl TV.

And it’s free.

NEXTGEN TV will allow over-the-air viewers to get the benefits of streaming without downloading an app.

Once KSAT makes the switch, over-the-air viewers will turn on their television and see what KSAT is airing at the time.

A menu will appear on the left side of the screen to show on demand options you could switch to at any time.

Want to watch the latest KSAT Explains? KSAT Investigates stories? The latest forecast?

Or, let’s say you want to see all of our coverage on a particular story you’re interested in.

NEXTGEN TV allows you to customize the KSAT content you want to see. No app required.

“So, you can say, ‘I really do want to dive more into this news story,’ and I can do it right from my TV while I’m watching over-the-air TV,” said Alison Martin, Vice President of Innovation and Strategy for the National Association of Broadcasters.

It looks and acts like the KSAT+ app, but without an app download.

Eventually, local broadcasters can provide over-the-air viewers a feature that’s become a hallmark of streaming: the ability to start over.

“Take, for example you join the local news and you were six minutes late and you’re like, ‘I wish I had sat down six minutes ago,’” said Madeleine Noland, President of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, or ATSC.

“The button comes up and says, do you want to start over? And you go, ‘sure!’ And what happens is, seamlessly the viewer is transitioned to a streaming experience of that newscast from the beginning,” Noland added.

NEXTGEN TV also has better picture and sound.

“NEXTGEN TV also sounds better with Dolby Audio for enhanced dialog and maintaining a consistent volume whenever you’re changing the channel,” said Steve Koenig, Vice President of Research with the Consumer Technology Association.

“High dynamic range video,” Martin said. “Eventually, you’re going to be able to get 4k video over the air and this is completely free.”

Here’s what you need

To watch KSAT after we make the NEXTGEN TV switch, over-the-air viewers (those with an antenna) will need to rescan their televisions because channels will have shifted a bit.

Once you rescan, you’ll be able to see the KSAT programming you’re used to.

But you’ll need a few additional things to take advantage of NEXTGEN TV.

You can keep the same antenna you are using now, but you’ll need a receiver that works with NEXTGEN TV to get the enhanced picture and sound quality.

Those cost between $60 and $200, depending on the features offered.

“You can plug that into your existing TV via an HDMI cable,” Noland said.

You’ll need to do more, though, if you want the app-like, interactive features over-the-air.

You need a TV that is NEXTGEN capable.

So, what if you already have a Smart TV or one connected to the internet?

It won’t work. The television must be a NEXTGEN TV. Look for the NEXTGEN TV logo when you’re shopping around.


What if you don’t want to buy anything new?

Short answer: you don’t have to.

“They don’t have to upgrade if they don’t want to,” Schelle said. “We need to provide the reason why they should want to upgrade.”

You’ll still be able to watch KSAT without buying any additional technology, as long as you rescan your TV.

The FCC is requiring broadcasters to keep carrying our old signal as we add the new one.

“While we’re simulcasting the old system and the new system, consumers need to do exactly nothing,” Noland said.

There will come a time when that simulcast requirement will end and the old signal will no longer be accessible, but no date for that has been set.

“Stations are simulcasting in both standards for a number of years,” Martin said.

So, where did this come from?

You might remember the last big TV switch from analog to digital.

In 2009, the FCC said broadcasters had to make that switch.

This time, its broadcasters choosing to change.

“The broadcasters are the ones behind the idea of ‘we need an upgrade,’” Noland said. “The reason why we have a new system is because everything’s changing in the media landscape.”

Pearl TV is behind the NEXTGEN TV push and creation.

“We’re a business consortium of eight of the largest broadcast station groups in the United States,” Schelle said.

That includes Graham Media Group, the parent company of KSAT.

Pearl TV worked with ATSC, which sets the standards for television, to come up with the NEXTGEN TV framework

“We sort of provide the structure that allows all these different companies, some of whom are competitors with each other, to have these kinds of conversations to reach consensus on what to do,” Noland said. “We’re like the technical experts.”

The technical name for NEXTGEN TV is ATSC 3.0.

What’s in it for broadcasters

We’ve talked about what’s in it for viewers, but there’s something in it for broadcasters, too.

“In order to serve the modern consumer, you got to have a modern platform,” Noland said. “And so that’s what NEXTGEN TV is for the broadcasters.”

“It gives them a lot more tools that they don’t necessarily have to to compete,” Martin said.

Full disclosure: NEXTGEN TV will allow KSAT to fine tune our content by giving us more information about what you’re actually watching.

And there are business opportunities we have as a station.

“It gives you all kinds of data in advertising,” Martin said. “So you also will know what consumers like or don’t like.”

Wait for it...

It is important to point out that several of the customization features, such as the ability to start over or search specialized tabs, won’t be available on KSAT right away.

But the NEXTGEN TV switch allows KSAT to add those things to our over-the-air platform.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel when we get to the point where everything is NEXTGEN TV, there’s more capacity to do all of these great things,” Martin said.

Need help rescanning your antenna?

Click here for help on rescanning and troubleshooting.

About the Authors

Myra Arthur is passionate about San Antonio and sharing its stories. She graduated high school in the Alamo City and always wanted to anchor and report in her hometown. Myra anchors KSAT News at 6:00 p.m. and hosts and reports for the streaming show, KSAT Explains. She joined KSAT in 2012 after anchoring and reporting in Waco and Corpus Christi.

Valerie Gomez is lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. She began her career in 2014 and has been with KSAT since 2017. She helped create KSAT’s first digital-only newscast in 2018, and her work on KSAT Explains and various specials have earned her a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media and multiple Emmy nominations.

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