OTA Is About to Have Its Moment

The deluge of streaming services continues to be a hot topic, but OTT sibling OTA deserves more attention, says Scripps Chief Research Officer Jon Marks.  Here, he tells why OTA is reaching a tipping point.

Why the continued success of OTA shouldn’t be overlooked…

Several trends argue for the continued success of OTA. First, while more and more consumers are considering “cutting the cord,” access to live sports, news, and favorite series on the major broadcast networks makes them think twice. OTA provides an ability to retain these channels without having to subscribe to too many SVOD services. Second, the quality and diversity of multicast networks keeps growing year-after-year. The attractiveness of OTA is perhaps reaching a tipping point for consumers in the same way that cable reached it in the early 1980s. Finally, antennas (or complementary devices) are becoming more sophisticated and will integrate with home Wi-Fi to provide an improved consumer experience; on-screen program guides, on-demand content, DVR capabilities, superior picture, and sound quality, are likely to be commonplace for OTA viewers.

Why we can expect even further growth in 2022 (and what else we can expect this year)…

The Consumer Technology Association expects more than eight million antennas to be sold in 2022. Even if some are used to replace existing antennas, this will represent continued, steady growth for OTA. Several multicast networks launched in 2021 and are just now being discovered, including Rewind TV (Nexstar); Twist (Tegna); FAVE (CBS); plus TrueReal, Defy TV, and Newsy (Scripps). Moreover, ATSC 3.0 – also known as “NextGen TV” – is rolling out into more markets. This provides much better picture quality, reduced interference, and Dolby sound, among other benefits.

How Scripps is finding success with its multiplatform approach …

Scripps is committed to making our content available on whatever platform a consumer watches. We strive to be a leader in free TV and that increasingly means having OTA, AVOD and FAST services. Although it is declining, tens of millions of homes will continue to subscribe to the cable/satellite market during the foreseeable future; these distributors remain important points of access for us.

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