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9 January 2020

Synamedia joins Pearl TV, hopefully hurrying things along

Synamedia’s entrance into the ATSC 3.0 market in October prompted us to highlight a couple of omissions, the names Pearl TV and Phoenix Model Market Initiative. Everyone’s favorite NDS spin off has a habit of taking Faultline’s advice, this week leaping into a collaboration with Pearl TV to join the Phoenix Model Market Initiative – the group pushing a single-market philosophy for the US DTT standard employing an IP backbone.

Now, this announcement comes across as a little suspicious considering how Synamedia expressed zero interest in joining these trial projects when discussing the market with Faultline before the new year. Clearly, Synamedia was more conscious about giving too much away, rather than having any genuine disinterest for collaboration.

At the time, we said Synamedia’s membership was a virtual inevitability given the perceived power of Pearl TV and the Phoenix Model Market Initiative in anything and everything ATSC 3.0, which now goes under the consumer-friendly guise of Next Gen TV.

By single-market, this relates to the ongoing ATSC 3.0 testbed in Phoenix, spearheaded by Pearl TV, the group comprising more than 400 network-affiliated TV stations. But how about a single-vendor approach – is this where Synamedia’s vested interest really lies in signing up to the Phoenix Model Market Initiative?

That’s a hasty conclusion to arrive at, as Synamedia has been busy working with smaller encoding vendor Triveni Digital, which has made a name for itself in ATSC 3.0 – delivering trial systems for the 8 large US broadcasters involved in the collaborative project. Dolby Laboratories is also on Synamedia’s radar for ATSC 3.0 partnership projects.

However, we were skeptical when Synamedia jumped into bed with Triveni Digital, a competitor on paper, implying Synamedia might usurp Triveni as the incumbent encoding technology supplier in the emerging ATSC 3.0 ecosystem. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, as the saying goes.

Of course, Synamedia will want to ride the hype wave from the ITU’s nod to ATSC 3.0 this week (see separate story in this issue), hoping to drive people towards the company’s CES booth. Here, Synamedia is bringing its compression technology to the table to free up the bandwidth required to launch new ATSC 3.0 services by repacking existing ATSC 1.0 signals.

This is achieved using a unified workflow platform across both services, based on the architectural support mechanism provided by the Digital Broadcast Chain from Triveni Digital, including the newly launched Broadcast Gateway and GuideBuilder XM.

Triveni Digital’s Broadcast Gateway was launched earlier this year in both hardware and software versions, each available with Synamedia’s compression technology at the customer’s preference. The two firms claim one major US TV production company signature is already secured.

Synamedia also recently assured Faultline that it is seeing plenty of activity in retaining bandwidth for future ATSC 3.0 usage, yet the technology is yet to prove itself in the real world and our concern is that ATSC 3.0 services will flop before they have even begun, with millions of viewers already evacuating pay TV or even FTA broadcast for OTT video services.

Admittedly, that was before Synamedia’s entrance onto the scene, but still with its expertise and claim as the world’s largest independent video software provider, Synamedia has its work cut out to convince the skeptics otherwise.