Broadcast television in an IP world

Casey Schoonover cschoonover at
Fri Nov 17 20:13:27 UTC 2017

Bit of background, I used to work for a mid-market commercial TV station in Illinois, both in IT/Broadcast Engineering and eventually in production.

I'm not to the point in my career where I can speak intelligently about content delivery, but from a technology perspective this does sound like a solved problem. That said, I don't think this is a technology problem.

The biggest issue we ran into at my former employer with new tech and new ideas was both with budget and the corporate bureaucracy. Without significant buy-in -- both corporate politics-wise and financially --  from the station parent company, something like this would be cost-prohibitive for a non-large station to undertake by themselves, if they were even allowed to. Generally speaking, where station IT was concerned we were left to fend for ourselves, from aging, non-virtualized Server 2003 domain controllers in 2012. This wasn't much better on the broadcast engineering side, as I remember our broadcast engineers running a new digital subchannel for a while off of an aging A/V router from the 90's/early aughts.

I don't recall offhand exact numbers on circuit speeds or anything, but the best label I can use to describe both our WAN connectivity to our parent org and standard internet circuits would be "woefully insufficient." Definitely easier to overcome these days, as plenty of broadcast providers in the cable/satellite TV arena co-located with us a tad, which might offer an option to piggy back off of any connectivity they might have, but I'd argue a station out in the boonies might run into issues with sufficient upload speeds to serve content with. Cost of content storage is likely much less of a concern, depending on how much content you actually store and for how long, but it's also something worth considering.

I suppose the biggest takeaway is that, like I mentioned, in the States you aren't just dealing with the big networks. You're also dealing with the corporate hegemony of the various station owners. While networks can force a lot of standards, policies, and procedures on the broadcast groups/stations out there as part of the contract that allows them to carry network content, the cost of implementing something will generally fall on the owners and the stations.

That's not even mentioning regulatory requirements like EAS and other public obligations that come with running an OTA TV transmitter state-side.

Casey Schoonover
Network Engineer II
Duluth Trading Company
170 Countryside Dr
Belleville, WI 53508
cschoonover at

-----Original Message-----
From: NANOG [mailto:nanog-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jean-Francois Mezei
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2017 1:46 PM
To: Nanog at
Subject: Broadcast television in an IP world

Once ISPs became able to provide sufficient speeds to end users, video over the internet became a thing.

This week, the FCC approved the ATSC3 standard.

What if instead of moving to ATSC3, TV stations that broadcast OTA became OTT instead?  Could the Internet handle the load?

Since TV stations that are OTA are "local", wouldn't this create an instant CDN service for networks such as CBS/ABC/NBS/FOX/PBS since these networks have local presence and can feed ISPs locally?

And while a small ISP serving Plattsburg NY would have no problem peering with the WPTZ server in Plattsburg, would the big guys like Comcast/Verizon be amenable to peering with TV stations in small markets?

Some of them would also be selling transit to the TV station (for instance, to serve its Canadian audience, WPTZ would need transit to go outside of Comcast/Frontier and reach canadian IP networks).

But a local TV station whose footprint is served by the local ISPs may not need any transit.

The PAY TV servives, if HBO is any indication will also move OTT, but be served in the more traditional way, with a central feed of content going to a CDN which has presence that is local to large ISPs (or inside ISPs).

We the traditional BDU (canada) MVPD (USA) is abandonned by the public and TV stations , PAY TV services and SVOD services such as Netflix are all on the Internet, would this represent a huge change in load, or just incremental growth, especially if local TV stations are served locally?

Just curious to see if the current OTA and Cable distribution models will/could morph into IP based services, eliminating the "cable TV" service.

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