Originally Posted by JHBrandt
That said, I think you're right on the basic point: even if it's not simple, it's all done by special-purpose chips that are mass-produced. Even 10 years ago a basic SD tuner only cost $40 or a bit more; nowadays you can get a better HD tuner with a basic PVR for the same price (plus the cost of a storage device).
Keep an eye on what pay TV providers do in the coming year or two. I predict we're going to see a lot more pay TV subscribers, especially those on AT&T's platforms, get ATSC 1.0 tuners from their provider, either for free, at-cost, or below-cost (i.e. partially subsidized by the pay TV provider). Whenever there are disputes with local broadcast stations, AT&T DirecTV is now sending out a free 1.0 tuner that can plug into most model DirecTV receivers, giving them free OTA TV that is integrated into their cable channel guide and which can be recorded to the DVR. DISH offers something similar.
DISH has taken it a step further with their AirTV, a box with dual ATSC 1.0 tuners that streams your locals on the home wifi network and integrates into the Sling TV streaming cable service. They're about to roll out an updated model, the AirTV 2. Plug a USB hard drive into the AirTV box and, bam, you've got a local OTA DVR. The local recordings show up right next to your cloud DVR recordings in Sling TV.
I betcha we'll see AT&T come out with something similar to the AirTV for use with their forthcoming new AT&T TV streaming cable service. While Sling TV is and probably always will be somewhat of a niche service aimed at budget-conscious cord-cutters, AT&T TV will be positioned as the company's new flagship cable TV service, aimed to supersede both DirecTV satellite and Uverse TV.
Will all their customers use those OTA tuners? No, but some will. And given how cheap 1.0 tuners are, AT&T, DISH and other MVPDs can afford to give them away or sell them for cheap. (And, aside from OTA tuners, AT&T is also donating to Locast, and auto-installing their app on all their STBs, giving their customers in local-blackout-affected markets an easy way to stream their otherwise-missing locals for free.) These moves will pay dividends for the MVPDs when it's time to renegotiate those carriage contracts with local broadcasters because it gives the MVPDs greater leverage. "Look, we're not afraid of a blackout. Lots of our customers have other ways to watch your stations for free on the STBs they already use."
The only MVPD I can think of who wouldn't embrace ATSC 1.0 tuners and Locast (if it survives the inevitable legal challenge) is Comcast, given that they own NBC and its largest local affiliates.
But why would AT&T and other MVPDs want to see ATSC 3.0 flourish? It could be locked down in ways that benefit the local stations. Meanwhile, ATSC 1.0 tuners are cheap and work well enough for their purposes.
For that matter, I don't really see why the major network owners -- Disney (ABC), Comcast (NBC) or CBS -- would really want to see ATSC 3.0 flourish, given that it might threaten their direct-to-consumer streaming services like Hulu and CBS All Access. And of course there's no good reason Apple or Google, the companies that most control our smartphone software, would want to support ATSC 3.0 in phones.
The only groups I *can* see for whom 3.0 would be economically beneficial are local broadcast station owners that aren't part of the major media corporations. In other words, Sinclair, Nexstar, Meredith, E. W. Scripps, etc. So basically, it's them against the world. Which side you gonna bet on?