New ATSC 3.0 DRM requirements force Tablo to delay the release of its first ATSC 3.0 OTA DVR

At the start of this year, Table announced its first ATSC 3.0 over-the-air DVR with the expectation to release it in the Spring. According to Cord Cutters News, Tablo is now informing customers that preordered the upcoming 4K DVR to say that shipments will be delayed “several months” due to new digital rights management (DRM) requirements that may hit broadcast signals as early as this summer.

While ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are already available in several regions across the U.S., aspects of the new format that promises to bring free 4K video to TV tuners are still being worked out, such as DRMs role in the new format. When Tablo announced its first ATSC 3.0 product, the implementation of DRM in ATSC 3.0 broadcasts seemed like a distant concern, but the company now says there may be DRM encrypted broadcasts coming as soon as this summer. As such, Tablo has made the right decision, in my opinion, to delay the release of its new DVR in order to add, certify, and test compatibility with ATSC 3.0 DRM broadcasts.

Tablo says the manufacturing of its new ATSC 3.0 DVR will be delayed “several months” because DRM decryption keys must be installed at the factory. Due to how DRM is implemented, Tablo cannot simply manufacture the DVR now and add the necessary keys after the fact, and they certainly can’t ship the devices without DRM support and add it later through a software update. Tablo hasn’t given a new time frame for the release of its ATSC 3.0 DVR. See Tablo’s full email to customers below.

When we announced the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD OTA DVR in January of this year, we felt confident that our stated spring 2022 delivery date was achievable.

However, since that time, broadcast station ownership groups have indicated their intent to encrypt ATSC 3.0 signals using Digital Rights Management (DRM) beginning as early as this summer.

To ensure that the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD OTA DVR can display and record ATSC 3.0 content, even when broadcast signals are encrypted, we need to complete the development and certification of DRM software for the device.

DRM decryption keys MUST be installed on the Tablo during manufacturing and cannot be added via later firmware updates.

Because of this, we anticipate a manufacturing delay of several months while we confirm the certification requirements, add DRM capabilities to the product, and obtain certification from the ATSC 3.0 Security Authority (A3SA).

Once this feature is complete, we can begin beta testing and then re-schedule the first production run of DVRs.

At that point, we’ll reach out to you again with a more specific ETA for delivery.

We regret having to make you wait longer for the Tablo QUAD ATSC 3.0, but this delay will result in a more future-proof and capable product overall.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we work to bring this next-generation Tablo product to market.

12 comments
  1. Charlie says:

    Wonder how this will affect HDHomerun tuners.

  2. Rik Emmett says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they required a retinal scan from the end user to be submitted for every recording.

  3. TechyChris says:

    I’ve not paid much attention to ATSC 3.0 (the world being complicated enough as it is) but lately I’ve started educating myself as deployment seems imminent. Cord Cutters does seem to be the most up to date source of info on this topic, I can see why Elias linked to it. There seems to be many positives (plus a few negatives) to this transition.

    I was surprised to learn there was an ATSC 2.0 ready to go that would have included advanced video compression and on-demand programming (if offered by the network) BUT would not have included 4k so the industry decided to skip 2.0 as they would have to upgrade again in just a few years.

    While we won’t need new OTA Antennas, if your TV is not ATSC 3.0 compatible the FED GOV is giving you 5 years to get one that is. This is similar to the last transition to digital tuners. While most people who purchased new tv’s in the last few years will be unaffected those with older Flatscreens WILL need to upgrade within 5 years of ATSC 3.0 deployment. I suspect there will be some converter box programs like with the digital transition but with if your flatscreen is that old probably worth it to upgrade to a new one rather than a temporary patch. Plus, would anyone want to trust a 4k signal to pass uncompromised through some cheap third-party plastic box?

    I’ve also learned that with ATSC 3.0, if you opt-in to weather alerts the counties have the ability to remotely turn on your tv to alert your household. Very interesting. I envision a lot of future heated forum debates about that one. Plus, the ability to insert targeted advertising just like the web, more fun.

    And the cherry on top of the ATSC 3.0 cake: The networks will now have the ability to directly TRACK what you are viewing. A savvy entrepreneur should begin development now, of some sort of inline “black-box” to mask your viewing habits…they will sell like the “proverbial hotcakes”

    Oh, the future is now!

    • Russ says:

      There will be no ‘black box’, the DRM with a hard coded key will make that pretty hard to do. I haven’t looked at the API’s for atsc 3.0, but I assume the part of the basic arch. is derived from the cable card spec and extended. As for as 4k and streamers, the decoders are on the same SOC chip as the CPU, GPU, etc. so it the brand of the chip used is the only thing of any importance in the box, for possible future updates, etc.

      • TechyChris says:

        Admittingly, that part was a bit of whimsy, I am neither advocating for nor personally do I care whether that happens, but I’ve lived long enough to know, never say never. There is ALWAYS going to be a work around, especially when $$$ is involved. It’s just what people do. That’s why piracy is such a multibillion-dollar problem. Again, I don’t get involved in such matters. But I do know people being what they are…someone will eventually. To simply say “it will never happen” well…you know how that goes.

        • Russ says:

          I think it’s probably more likely that there will be hard DRM keys in all streaming boxes and to subscribe you will have to register your key and email.

  4. Russ says:

    Note I said that before Netflix said 100m ‘subscribers’ where not paying for their ‘subscriptions’ in their earning announcement last night (and they needed to do something about that).

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