Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Commercial Deployment of ATSC 3.0 in Las Vegas Features High Dynamic Range Technology from Technicolor
The High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology embedded in the commercial deployment of ATSC 3.0 in Las Vegas by Sinclair Broadcast Group will not only enhance live sports viewing experiences, but will also create new business opportunities for the stations adopting the new standard.
ATSC 3.0 incorporated SL-HDR1 (also known as Technicolor HDR) to bridge the gap between HDR and Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) by applying a single-layer distribution solution that supports compatibility with all non-HDR screens. Technicolor HDR has been developed in partnership with Philips and with research and development support from InterDigital Inc.
“This is the first commercial deployment of ATSC 3.0 – and Technicolor HDR – in North America,” says Thomas Bohan, Technicolor’s HDR Program President. “With the COVID-19 pandemic no one knows when people will be able to return to major public venues. The Sinclair announcement opens the door for broadcasters to deliver enhanced live sports coverage, such as the NTT IndyCar Genesys 300 race to be broadcast on the evening of Saturday June 6. Viewers at home will be able to more easily follow the action – in and out of shadows – a common situation that has challenged broadcasters in the past.”
Technicolor HDR enables Sinclair-owned stations to deliver a signal that can be rendered as SDR as well as HDR. The bitstream is SDR and contains an extra packet which enables HDR reconstruction. Devices that do not support HDR simply ignore the packet, while devices that support Technicolor HDR read the metadata, decode it, and reconstruct HDR video.
“Sinclair is committed to providing its viewers with the best experience possible. Technicolor HDR allows us to do this cost-effectively by providing for backwards compatibility in non-HDR displays while offering a vibrant viewing experience for consumers who have invested in new HDR technology,” says Mark Aitken, Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Now that Technicolor HDR is being commercially deployed, the case for including this technology in consumer electronics (CE) devices – such as TVs and mobile phones – has been greatly enhanced.
“This is just the news that CE makers have been waiting for,” says Alan Stein, Vice President of Technology at InterDigital, Inc. “The industry has been in a chicken-or-egg situation for a long time. Manufacturers did not want to include technology if there was no HDR content to display; broadcasters did not want to invest in distribution technology that could not be received and appreciated by viewers. The move by Sinclair breaks this logjam – and creates an imperative for CE manufacturers to enable the technology which makes HDR content available to consumers,” he explains.
The adoption and deployment of ATSC 3.0 allows broadcasters to participate in the burgeoning mobile wireless services market. By combining over-the-air transmission and broadband delivery, the standard allows terrestrial broadcasters to offer hybrid content services across fixed and mobile receivers.
“At Sinclair we have been clear about our intent to make our content available across devices and platforms. We are focused on making sure today’s portable and nomadic devices are supported. All devices that can, should be able to display HDR. This will help to grow the industry,” says Aitken.