Next Gen TV has been quietly working its way across the country as stations begin to adopt the ability to broadcast higher quality 4k signals and allow users to access streaming content over the air. But most people do not have a TV that can pull in the signals in the first place.
That is because the new standard required a totally different over the air TV tuner in order to gain access to the otherwise free signals. This is no different than when TVs began to be sold with digital tuners. There were many people without them for a long time until they began to replace their sets and then eventually everyone had the new technology. That was actually ATSC 1.0. It allowed for the sub-channels (7.2, 7.3) that have become popular with antenna users.
ATSC 3.0 or Next Gen TV will bring about the possibility of so much more, but as HDTVs and then 4K TVs got cheap and easy to get many people invested in them and will not need a new TV for quite some time. On top of that, there are not many that sell with a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner. Therefore, the easiest way for users to get ahold of one would be to get a separate device with one built-in. On that front, there have already been a number of almost. But so far nobody has broken through with a solution that was easy to use and inexpensive. FreeCast may be on the way to providing a solution for early adopters that can get the ball rolling.
The company recently announced a product called the FreeCast Home. The idea behind the device is that it allows users to hook into an antenna to pull in the OTA signals and also allow users to watch their live local news, weather, and sports seamlessly from a single channel guide that also includes over 700 free streaming channels.
The streaming channels are the kinds of things people would find on a number of free streaming apps like 24-7 news, comedy etc. They and of course major apps like Netflix are available on multiple streaming devices. But the difference between what FreeCast Home is proposing and say a Roku or Fire TV, is that instead of having a streaming box or stick, and then a tuner that has a separate app that needs to be set up to coordinate with the said device, the FreeCast Home aims to do it all in one package. And on top of that it will also cull together content from multiple services into a more uniform interface and give users a way to access the latest in broadcast technology.
Frankly, if FreeCast pulls this together the way they advertise I think that a lot of established companies are going to wish they had done it before them, or one of them will buy the company and rebrand the technology. Once people really understand what can be done with the new standard they will begin to seek it out. FreeCast may finally put a spotlight on it.