The ADTH Nextgen TV Box Shows Us Just How Bad ATSC 3.0 Encryption Will Be..

I recently got my hands on the $99 ADTH NextGen TV Box, the first certified tuner for ATSC 3.0 NextgenTV broadcasts that supports channels encrypted with DRM. You can see it in action in my latest review.

The ADTH is a basic tuner that plays back live TV to the television connected to its HDMI port. There are no DVR capabilities, and it only has a single tuner on board. It runs on Android but boots directly into its TV watching app. Some viewers have been able to shoehorn other apps onto it, but their custom tv watching app is the only one that can interact with the onboard tuner.

The device has an ethernet port, Wi-Fi, an HDMI output that supports 4K televisions and HDR, an AV out for analog audio, and an optical audio out. It only plays back on the TV it’s connected to, so the wifi and ethernet are used only for firmware and DRM decryption (more on that below). The antenna port is where you connect your antenna for receiving broadcasts. It supports AC4 audio decoding, making it compatible with older televisions.

The interface is incredibly Spartan. When you boot it up, it takes you directly to the TV viewing app. The channel guide is very limited, and the remote control is as basic as it gets, with no numbers on it. You’ll have to navigate through the channel guide or use the channel up and down buttons to find the channel you want to watch.

But the elephant in the room is the ADTH’s DRM playback capabilities. In my market, my NBC and CBS affiliates have both encrypted their ATSC 3.0 signals. And the ADTH is able to tune into them – provided I have an active Internet connection to do it. While I was able to take the box off the Internet without interrupting playback, it did require an active connection before I could switch to another encrypted channel.

This raises concerns about how the emergency broadcast system will work in the future if everything is encrypted and requires an internet connection for over the air content to play back.

Interestingly, this box allows you to directly capture footage out of the HDMI port on encrypted channels. I was able to capture the footage directly using my Elgato 4K USB capture dongle which does not allow capturing of encrypted HDCP HDMI signals. I tested a few other capture boards that restrict HDCP content and all of those worked too.

The broadcast industry, through an organization called Pearl TV, is forcing manufacturers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to certify their players to protect the signal all the way to the television. This includes ensuring that even the HDMI signal is protected – yet this box was released without proper protection? This raises questions about just how serious broadcasters are in protecting their signals vs. trying to steer customers into expensive subscription streaming plans.

All that said the ADTH experience wasn’t all that great when it did successfully decrypt a channel. I encountered occasional playback issues where the video would start to stutter after a while but then correct itself. At this time the box does not have a signal strength meter so I was unable to determine if it was the signal or something else.

Channel surfing is also not fluid; there’s a long delay and a buffer before the channel starts playing. This delay is even longer for the DRM channels as it has to go out to the internet first to get its decryption keys.

If you’re looking to watch live TV that is encrypted via the new ATSC 3 DRM, this device will allow you to watch those channels. However, it only works on the TV it’s connected to, and the tuning quality is not as good as other options like the Zapperbox or the HDHomeRun. The ADTH also confirms my beliefe that DRM is completely unnecessary, especially given that they didn’t even bother to lock out its HDMI port from allowing direct video capture.

So, it works, but it’s not great. I’ll keep you updated as we make progress fighting the encryption of over-the-air television. Be sure to register your thoughts with the FCC on their official docket!

ATSC 3 DRM is Worse Than We Thought!

I’ve been deeply involved in raising awareness about the broadcast industry’s intentions to encrypt free over-the-air television. Recent developments have shown that the situation with DRM encryption is eve worse than I initially thought. You can see more in my latest video.

Our collective efforts to inform the FCC about these concerns have been fruitful. Since my last update, the number of comments and filings on the FCC’s official transition docket has significantly increased. This surge in participation is heartening, but there’s still a long way to go. I urge everyone to continue voicing their concerns.

In a positive turn of events, the FCC has delayed the official transition to ATSC 3.0 until at least June 2027. This gives us more time to make our case and ensure that when the transition does occur, it doesn’t come with undue restrictions.

However, there’s concerning news on the horizon. Despite promises from Pearl TV, the organization behind this initiative, it seems that even certified devices can’t decrypt DRM protected content. This revelation comes as Silicondust, the makers of the HDHomerun, now have certified firmware for their hardware and apps – yuet those apps cannot decrypt the DRM content.

This directly contradicts Pearl TV’s earlier statements in June that certified devices would be able to decrypt broadcasts:

Thankfully, the security layer already included in NEXTGEN TV is being enabled now and is supported by all of the television manufacturers selling NEXTGEN TV-certified receivers.

A recent article by Jared Newman from Tech Hive further delved into the intricacies of this DRM. Shockingly, broadcasters could potentially delete DVR recordings from your own server after a certain period of time or block the recording of content outright. And if you’re not using a television connected directly to an antenna an Internet connection will be required to watch live television – that includes smart TVs using an app, tablets, computers and other devices.

Additionally, there could be restrictions that effectively prevent out-of-home viewing from network tuners. This means that every time you watch television or a recording, you will have to disclose your physical location.

The industry’s justification for these restrictions revolves around concerns of copyright violations. However, it’s evident that the real motive might be to protect retransmission fees they collect from cable and streaming service subscribers. With many consumers cutting the cord due to exorbitant fees, broadcasters seem to be taking measures to protect their revenue streams.

The essence of free over-the-air TV must be preserved if broadcasters wish to continue using the public airwaves. Viewers shouldn’t be burdened with unnecessary limitations in an effort to force them into paying exorbitant subscription fees. It’s crucial to continue voicing our concerns and ensuring that the public’s best interests are upheld.

I’ll be back with more on this soon including a new effort we’ll be undertaking to let the industry know we’re not going to stand for this!

TechHive Picks Up our ATSC 3.0 Encryption Story

As many of you know Tyler the Antennaman and I have been on a mission to inform the public about the rapid encryption of what used to be free over the air television. To date we’ve had 7,600 people sign our petition to the FCC and added 2,000 new comments to the FCC’s docket about the issue.

TechHive this week covered the issue with an extensive piece that uncovers just how restrictive the DRM will be:

  • For DVR, broadcasters can set expiration dates on recordings or even block them outright. It’s unclear if broadcasters will do this, but ATSC 3.0 gives them the capability.
  • ATSC 3.0’s DRM has latency restrictions that effectively block out-of-home viewing from networked tuners such as the HDHomeRun Flex 4K.
  • Users will need an internet connection to stream local broadcasts around the home, for instance from an HDHomeRun tuner to a Roku player, and an occasional internet connection might be required for external tuner boxes.
  • Recordings won’t work without the original tuner that captured the programming, effectively preventing users from transferring programs they’ve recorded on a DVR to other devices, such as a laptop or tablet for away-from-home viewing.
  • With an HDHomeRun tuner, third-party apps must get independently certified to play encrypted ATSC 3.0 content. It’s unclear if programs such as Channels and Plex will do so.

It’s clear to see that broadcasters are eager to only provide the bare minimum live viewing experience to antenna viewers who don’t want to pay their exorbitant broadcast fees.

Let’s not forget that these stations don’t own the public airwaves that they want to turn into a toll road. We the taxpayers do. How does this serve the public benefit?

Read more in the TechHive article.

The FCC Responds to my ATSC 3 Encryption Complaint – They Want To Hear From You!

The FCC reached out to me and is asking all of you who signed the petition to also file a comment in their docketing system for the ATSC 3 petition. This is very easy to do and will just take a few minutes. So far there are only about a dozen or so complaints filed. We can do better!!

I discuss this in my latest video.


1. Click this link to be taken to the FCC filing form.

2. On the first line for proceedings type in 16-142 . The system will then display the text “Authorizing Permissive Use of the “Next Generation” Broadcasting Television Standard.” Click on that to lock in the docket number. Here’s what it looks like:

3. Fill in your information. A US address is required and note that this will be part of the public record.

4. Write your comment in the comment section. It’s important to provide some detail especially how this change will make it difficult for YOU to consume over the air television.

Below is what I submitted, you are free to re-purpose this for your own submission but DO NOT COPY AND PASTE. The commission values feedback on how this transition will impact consumers and each unique story helps build the case better than a form letter.

I am writing in opposition to DRM Encryption being part of the ATSC 3.0 standard. Over the last several weeks broadcasters have aggressively rolled out encryption on their ATSC 3 signals throughout the United States. At the moment this restricts most currently available tuners from being able to tune ATSC 3 content.

The standard’s voluntary rollout began with much promise. Prior to ATSC 3 being enabled here in Connecticut I could not reliably receive ATSC 1.0 content. When ATSC 3 spun up last year I could finally receive reliable over the air signals at my home. That was until WFSB-TV encrypted their broadcast and I’m now blocked from watching that station.

Encrypting over the air signals goes against the spirit of serving the public’s interest. Encryption adds an additional and unnecessary point of failure for receiving important information during emergency situations.

There are anti-trust implications too. Encryption restricts the consumer’s right to watch content from the public airwaves using tuners and personal recording equipment of their choice. With ATSC 1.0 consumers have many choices for watching and recording over the air television. With ATSC 3 only equipment blessed by the broadcasters through an arduous, opaque and expensive process will be allowed to tune content. One broadcaster, E.W. Scripps, purchased a manufacturer of tuning and recording equipment giving Scripps an advantage in the marketplace over competing products.

The broadcasters have said encryption is important for copy protection or other nonsense about protection from hackers and “deep fakes.” But the reality is they are trying to protect broadcast retransmission fees that now make up a significant portion of their revenue.

Lawyers for the broadcasters have effectively stopped every large scale retransmission effort making encryption unnecessary to protect their broadcast exclusivity rights. What this is really about is making it more difficult for everyday consumers to watch free over the air TV in an effort to push us back onto paid subscription services.

You can also find what other people have submitted by visiting this link to browse through the public filings.

It’s really important if you care about this issue to make a submission. It doesn’t have to be long – just long enough for you to convey the impact that DRM encryption will have in accessing broadcasts on the public airwaves.

I still plan to drop this petition off with the FCC and congressional stakeholders in person with the Antenna Man. But the more of us who tell the FCC directly the better!

Another Broadcaster in Boston Locks Down ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts with DRM

Another broadcaster in Boston has locked down their ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. CBS affiliate WBZ has joined the ABC and NBC affiliates in denying the public the ability to watch TV the way they want.

Here’s the latest from Boston is almost all red now when it comes to access to free over the air TV:

To learn more about this topic be sure to catch this video where I deep dive into the reasoning behind broadcasters locking down their broadcasts. Spoiler alert, it’s all about retaining their lucrative retransmission fees.

The ZapperBox M1 ATSC 3 Tuner is a Minimally Viable Product

In my latest review I look at the ZapperBox M1, a device designed to tune the new ATSC 3 signals in the United States.

The ZapperBox M1 is a great example of a “minimally viable product.” It’s an ATSC 3 tuner box that currently just tunes live TV, but with future firmware updates it will eventually gain DVR capabilities along with in-home streaming to other TV devices.

The ZapperBox M1 is available in two models: a single tuner unit priced at $249 and a dual tuner unit at $279. The dual tuner unit will allow you to record something while you watch something else live or record two shows simultaneously once the DVR functionality is implemented. It also has a Micro SD card slot and USB ports for external storage devices that will be required for that future DVR functionality.

The initial DVR release, due out by July 4th weekend, will allow you to schedule recordings, but won’t do recurring recordings or season passes. Those features will be added in subsequent releases. There will be an annual fee of $30 for the DVR service, which covers the cost of the channel guide data.

The device is simple to use and set up. It connects to a TV via its HDMI port and boots right up to live television. It has a YouTube app installed, but no other apps are installed nor is there a way to add any.

The ZapperBox M1 works with both ATSC 3 and ATSC 1 signals. It has a nice old-school channel flipping capability, allowing you to quickly go through the channels by pushing up and down on the remote. It also has the ability to filter out channels, so you can customize your viewing experience to favorites, remove duplicates, or have it focus only on the ATSC 3 Nextgen signals.

One of the complexities of ATSC 3 broadcasts is the Dolby AC4 audio format, which many TVs do not support. The ZapperBox M1 handles this by doing all the audio down-mixing in hardware, ensuring compatibility with all TVs.

Another issue is that many broadcasters are beginning to encrypt their content with DRM. The ZapperBox M1 does not currently decrypt this content, but it will in the future once it goes through an approval process. The makers of the box say that they have DRM decryption working with DRM broadcasts at their lab in Tampa, FL.

For regions like mine where all of the local ATSC 3 stations live on the same broadcast frequency, the ZapperBox M1 might be worth considering vs. buying a new set with an ATSC 3 Tuner built in. The set up process took less than 10 minutes and it performs its single task of watching live television quite well. But it is quite expensive for its limited feature set at the moment.

Check out all of my ATSC 3 content here!

Broadcasters Roll Out Restrictive DRM Encryption on ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts

In my latest video I discuss the concerning trend of broadcasters introducing encryption and Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ATSC 3 broadcasts in the United States. This move, while seemingly about preventing piracy and illegal re-transmission of signals, could significantly limit consumers’ ability to consume content in the way they want.

While consumers can watch ATSC 3 content live on next-gen certified televisions, they may face restrictions when trying to use apps like Plex or Channels for DVR recordings or outside-the-home viewing. There’s also the looming question of whether an Internet connection might be required to watch broadcast TV in the future.

I suspect that the motivation behind this move is largely to protect their re-transmission fee revenue broadcasters collected on a per-subscriber basis from cable companies and streaming services. Some estimates have it as high as $15 billion annually.

However, this shift towards DRM and encryption raises several questions and concerns. One of the most pressing is whether broadcasters could eventually charge consumers to watch what should be free television. While broadcasters are barred from doing so by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), I wouldn’t be surprised to see some broadcasters lobbying the FCC to allow it.

Another concern is the future of free TV content. As networks transition into streaming services, there’s a risk that high-quality content may become exclusive to paid streaming, leaving only local news and less desirable content for free broadcast TV. We’re already seeing examples of NBC, through Peacock and CBS, through Paramount+ offering content exclusive to those streaming apps that are not available on broadcast.

Given these concerns, I believe it’s crucial for consumers to voice their objections to the introduction of DRM in ATSC 3 broadcasts. I recommend reaching out to your senators and representatives, particularly those who have shown interest in accelerating the rollout of the ATSC 3 standard, to bring this issue to their attention.

Since this video was uploaded I heard from a bunch of viewers who were recently impacted by this change. Here’s what Matthew Mello sent to me on Twitter this morning:

Here the Comcast owned affiliate encrypts their ATSC 3 over the air signal making it more difficult to tune for free. If you want to DVR content or watch on a phone you’ll have to subscribe to cable to get those features – with Comcast picking up subscription AND retransmission fees.

There’s a reason the FCC used to limit media ownership in a market!

As a consumer and a tech enthusiast, I’m keeping a close eye on these developments. If DRM gets activated where I live I’ll be sure to share my experiences and continue to advocate for consumer rights in the broadcasting industry. Until then, I encourage everyone to stay informed and take action to protect our access to free over-the-air TV.

The TV Antenna is On the Roof! 62 Free Channels!

The topic of cord cutting / cord shaving has been a big part of my success here on YouTube. But up until now I’ve mostly been a cord shaver as I couldn’t receive all of my broadcast channels here at my house. But that changed this past week as I finally got an antenna installed at the house! See the results in my latest video.

There are two game changing components that made this possible. The first is that NextGenTV / ATSC 3.0 rolled out for me here in Connecticut. That put all of my local broadcasters on the same transmission feed allowing me to get all five off the same tower and frequency. You can see more about that in my prior video in this series.

What’s amazing is that these signals are coming in at half the bit rate they did on the ATSC 1.0 standard with far better image quality.

The second game changer was finding the right antenna that can pick up these distant signals in a reliable way. That came thanks to the “Televes DATBOSS LR Mix” antenna. It’s enormous but it’s what I need based on my location to pull in these channels reliably.

I reviewed the Televes Antenna in a few months ago and found its size along with its included amplifier dramatically improved my reception vs. the antenna I used in the first video. A big shoutout to the Antenna Man who recommended this one for my location.

So now that I found the antenna I had to find a way to get it on the roof. As good as I am with technology I am not qualified when it comes to climbing up ladders and drilling holes into my house. I had a really hard time finding a professional antenna installer around here – in fact posts to my local Facebook and Nextdoor groups only had those looking for similar services responding.

The only option in my area was Dish Network’s antenna service that was reasonably priced but they only supported one antenna for the task. When they came out a few years ago their antenna didn’t pick up much of anything around here.

I reached out to a high school buddy who’s a talented local home improvement contractor who got the job done. The only hiccup we encountered was that the aluminum pole we were originally going to use wasn’t rigid enough to support the enormous antenna in the wind.

We found a more rigid (albeit shorter) pole that gets the antenna just high enough to clear the roofline. I had him point it in the direction of the ATSC 3.0 signals were located thanks to the information I found on

Once we had it all locked down I connected the antenna to my HDHomerun Flex 4k box that SiliconDust sent me to review a few months ago when I started this project. In full disclosure they are an occasional sponsor here on the channel.

Sure enough when we booted everything up the HDhomerun was able to find a whopping 62 channels. Most of them of course are side channels but I am now able to get all of my local broadcasters for free in crystal clear HEVC video.

The signal strength is about 7-10% less than what we had in my initial testing on my tripod where I could position the antenna in between some trees. Right now everything is stable with no stutters or other issues but I am going to see how things look in a few weeks when the foliage returns to the area. I have many high trees surrounding my property which might cause some trouble. I’ll keep you posted!

All in it’s great to have an option now to re-think how I pay for television. I’m going to see how things look after the leaves come back and will possibly ditch my cable television subscription if everything remains stable here.

Stay tuned!