Sinclair Broadcast Group joined forces Wednesday with Nexstar Media in establishing a consortium that will pursue opportunities associated with the next-generation “ATSC 3.0” television broadcast standard. Together, Sinclair and Nexstar operate 343 televisions that reach 60% of the national viewing audience. As stated in a joint press release, the memorandum of understanding signed by the companies envisions the formation of a consortium on ATSC 3.0 development through which Sinclair and Nexstar will “promote spectrum aggregation, innovation and monetization and enhance their abilities to compete in the wireless data transmission sector.” The announcement also follows the FCC’s decision last month to launch proceedings on proposed rules that would authorize broadcast industry deployment of ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary, market-driven basis alongside the current digital ATSC 1.0 standard. 

Anticipating the adoption of ATSC 3.0 “and its proven capabilities,” Sinclair and Nexstar announced that the consortium will “develop and explore products and services associated with ATSC 3.0 and monetization opportunities such as spectrum utilization, virtual [multichannel video program distributor] platforms, multicast channels, automotive applications, single frequency networks and wireless data applications.” While the consortium will be jointly owned and controlled by Sinclair and Nexstar, officials confirmed that the companies will collaborate on a non-exclusive basis. As such, Perry Sook, the president and CEO of Nexstar, remarked that the consortium “welcomes the involvement of other broadcasters who share our enthusiasm for the new technology.”

Because ATSC 3.0 will enable broadcasters to transmit programming directly to smartphones, tablets and other broadband devices, officials of Sinclair and Nexstar touted the technology’s ability to provide broadcasters with much deeper and detailed user data than traditional broadcast ratings platforms. Noting that broadcasters transmitting in ATSC 3.0 will be able “to capture significant and meaningful information relating to consumers’ actual viewing and consumption behaviors,” Sinclair and Nexstar predicted that broadcasters “will no longer have to rely on expensive third-party measurement services with small sample sizes and unverified results.”