MPEG-4 Compatibility

An interesting discussion is going on at the AVS Forum: Minneapolis, MN - OTA | Page 262 | AVS Forum
A new (test?) sub channel has popped up and is transmitting an MPEG-4 stream. After a rescan I can’t get this station with my Tablo but I can with my Insignia Roku TV and Plex tuners (Hauppauge). Apparently there are MPEG-4 stations in a few cities. Does anyone have any experience with stations transmitting in MPEG-4 format? Maybe someone in these areas:

  • In Chicago, Weigel’s WMEU-CD has Start and MeTV+ in MPEG-4, so they can fit in The U in 720p and a UHF simulcast of WBBM in 1080i
  • In DC, Univision’s WFDC, who spectrum shares with WDCW, recently added UniMas in MPEG-4
  • In San Francisco, RNN’s KCNS, who’s part of a 3 way spectrum share with KTNC and KEMO, has one of their pay to play subchannels in MPEG-4.

uh, mpeg-4 is what atsc 1.0 is pretty much all about. I think something else is going wrong. Maybe you need to rescan??

I thought ATSC 1.0 was MPEG-2

Maybe some products only support ATSC 1.0 A/53 - MPEG-2. While ATSC 1.0 A/72 - MPEG-4. Or ITU-T H.264 video codec.

I think you’re right about the majority being mpeg-2.

Rescanning did not help. Yes, I think MPEG-2 is the most prevalent but since 2008 MPEG-4 has been supported by ATSC 1.0.

@TabloTV - Can the Tablo work with a station broadcasting an MPEG-4 stream?

The HDMI Tablo units shouldn’t have a problem but the transcoder on the network-connected versions wouldn’t recognize MPEG-4 as a compatible source.

Hmmm, thanks for the reply. Hopefully there is not a trend to broadcast in an MPEG-4 format. Right now the station in the Minneapolis market seems to just be a test as it is a duplicate of channel the Tablo can pick up.

We’ve only seen a handful of stations do that so far. It’s not clear why they’re making that choice but it’s certainly annoying when there isn’t a duplicate.

There is a new thread on the AVS Forum to track MPEG-4 device incompatibility:

No idea ATSC 1.0 allowed MPEG-4. Off topic Do we really want ATSC 3.0 then? Better compression was the big selling point I thought. I guess there’s a cost for upgrading either way when the time comes.

There are several other advantages of ATSC 3.0 - better reception, more channels, higher resolution and fewer frequencies needed to broadcast more channels.

But, I do think it’s interesting that we now have competing things wanting us to “re-buy” all of our OTA tuner equipment (and for some that means another thousand dollar plus TV(s)).


I have been holding off buying new TVs to see what the ATSC 3.0 is going to do. I am just hoping my 10 year old plasma holds out a while longer… Currently none of my TVs are ATSC 3.0 - but I do have several network tuners that have ATSC 3.0 capability - and I can stream them to the TVs.

Austin, TX was one of the first adopters of ATSC 3.0 - about a week ago, 1/2 of the ATSC 3.0 channels (one group of 4 channels) went off the air and haven’t come back. Currently there are one group of 4 channels broadcasting, but only one of them is actually sending video. It is all a huge “beta test” right now.

If I have learned anything about standards it’s that they aren’t adhered to very well! There was even a radio station bricking cars stereos. I’m sure it was an accident :wink: because one of the symptoms was to only be able to listen to their station.

I agree it’s about money but I think the main driver isn’t the hardware sales.

Not driver, but consumer impact. We all knew that ATSC 3.0 was going to render our TV tuners as “trash”… now there’s something else that may as well.

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So, If I’m going from the antenna to my Tablo to a router, my unit can’t handle MPEG-4? No software update is possible?

Not sure why the flow from antenna to Tablo to router would be relevant when they have indicated on the networked units it’s not the network part that is a problem, it’s the encoder in the Tablo unit itself.

Interesting video on this topic from Tyler the Antenna Man