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Close-up of woman singing into microphone illustrates live talent show on Next Gen TV

Next Gen TV: Live Talent Shows to Get Bigger

November 29th, 2018   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

Fans and critics are buzzing at the news that Netflix will test a feature that lets Black Mirror viewers choose an episode’s ending. The streaming platform already released this for episodes of some kids’ shows, according to Bloomberg.

The experiment is a fascinating precursor to the possibilities of TV. Next Gen TV, enabled by the new television standard ATSC 3.0, will bring interactivity like this—plus many other benefits—to live television.

Our pick for an early entrant to local, live TV: talent shows. Live shows like America’s Got Talent already pull in the viewers. America’s Got Talent is consistently a top-rated show for NBC, while The Voice also frequently tops the ratings, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Those primetime ratings are strong, even though you can stream episodes of both shows any time.

Why is that? We already know that live TV is compelling, but the real pull to watch these shows live is the interactivity. In the early days of America’s Got Talent, you could vote on contestants via text. Today, thanks to very full-featured apps, fans can get much more involved.

As NBC explains, the America’s Got Talent app lets you hit the buzzer, as well as vote for your favorite act. NBC created additional features for The Voice app: Not only can you vote, you can also tweet to coaches and artists, as well as pick your own fantasy team and suggest songs you’d like to hear contestants perform.

A Model for the Future

This type of show fits seamlessly into Next Gen TV, which will enable this kind of interactivity and more. ATSC 3.0 will offer added enhanced services to viewers and greater opportunities to advertisers, creating competitive advantages for local stations. Even local station groups will be able to let viewers interact during live TV programs without the need to build and test an expensive mobile app.

Here’s an example of the possibilities: According to local station KRQE, the city of Albuquerque recently held a local talent competition called Show Up ABQ, modeled on the national competitions. KRQE, a CBS/Fox affiliate, didn’t broadcast the show.

Next Gen TV might have changed that decision. What if people could have tuned in and voted for their friends or favorite acts? And what if local advertisers could have bought spots targeted to their potential customers? Suddenly, the broadcast decision makes a lot of sense.

Ability to Communicate Critical Info

An aspect of Next Gen TV that’s less discussed is communications with local residents during emergencies. In emergency situations, live TV can help local residents stay informed, providing critical information such as whether to evacuate. In Santa Barbara, a small California city wracked by fires and mudslides, KEYT NewsChannel 3 is working to roll out ATSC 3.0. Eric Bradley, co-owner of the station’s parent company, News-Press & Gazette, said that when fully implemented, Next Gen TV will improve the way first responders and emergency organizations communicate with residents, potentially saving lives.

Because this technology allows for household-level targeting, a local station could notify only those households that were under an evacuation order, eliminating confusion.

Live and Local

While most live, local TV programming today is limited to news and early morning magazine shows, talent shows could win big. The talent is free, the format is simple. Powered by Next Gen TV, the chance to see the kid next door or the checker at the supermarket become a star—thanks to your vote—could be a winning formula.


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