Free NEXTGEN TV Service Is Now Live in Chicago

Five television stations have launched NEXTGEN TV service in Chicago, bringing more programming options and other enhancements to viewers who have a NEXTGEN-compatible TV or set-top box and antenna to receive TV over the air.

The Chicago stations now broadcasting NEXTGEN TV (a.k.a. ATSC 3.0) include: CBS’ WBBM-TV (CBS, channel 2), Fox’s WFLD-TV (Fox, channel 32), NBC’s WMAQ-TV (NBC, channel 5), WGN (WGN, channel 9), and Univision’s WGBO-TV (Univision, channel 66).

NEXTGEN TV is a free over-the-air technology based on the ATSC 3.0 digital TV broadcast standard the FCC approved in 2017 for voluntary use by TV stations. The technology is a major overhaul of the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s ATSC 1.0 standard that drove the mandatory transition from analog TV broadcasting to over-the-air digital/HDTV broadcasting nearly 30 years ago.

The stations have worked together to ensure that current programming remains available to all viewers, regardless of whether their television service is provided over-the-air or by a cable or satellite company, according to Pearl TV, a collective of U.S. broadcasters with a shared interest in new broadcasting opportunities and technologies such as NEXTGEN TV.

Local viewers can tune to each station for information on how to access NEXTGEN TV, including details on “rescanning” TVs that receive broadcast signals over the air to make sure they are receiving all available channels (cable and satellite subscribers do not need to take any action).

Though features may vary by TV/device and broadcaster as commercial service expands in local markets, NEXTGEN TV is designed to be future proof, enabling compatible TVs to be updated as the technology evolves.

NEXTGEN TV broadcasting brings a number of potential advantages to Chicago-area viewers, including enhanced emergency alerts with detailed maps and images during natural disasters or severe weather events and location-targeting that enables notifications to be directed to affected areas, while allowing viewers in those areas to select a language for receiving the alerts.

Other potential enhancements include HDTV broadcasts with high dynamic range (HDR), consistent volume across channels, dialogue enhancement, and internet content on demand. For more on NEXTGEN TV, see NEXTGEN TV Aims to Keep Over-the-Air TV Broadcasting Relevant.

NEXTGEN TV service is available in 74 markets across the U.S. with 10 more expected to begin broadcasting soon. The technology needed to receive the broadcasts is built into about 100 TV models from Sony, Hisense, LG, and Samsung at prices as low as $600, with models from TCL expected later this year.

“Chicago will get the most out of live news and sports programming [with the arrival of NEXTGEN TV broadcasting],” said Anne Schelle, managing director of the Pearl TV group of TV broadcasters that coordinated the Chicago launch. “Live linear television has never been stronger in sports than it is now, and Chicago is home to a bold sports market with six professional teams spanning NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL organizations. NEXTGEN TV will transform the fan experience with immersive features such as brilliant color and personalized, interactive bonus content."

NEXTGEN TV continues to make inroads across the U.S. at a time when it’s becoming clear that the cost of steaming may not actually be less than a cable TV subscription once you figure out how many services you need to subscribe to get all the programming you want and factor in the escalating costs associated with those services.

For more information on NEXTGEN TV, including an overview of features, a guide showing where the service is available, and links and information on standalone TV tuners, TVs that support NEXTGEN technology, and antennas best suited for your location, visit


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