Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Seattle radio cluster – news KOMO-AM/FM (1000/97.7), hot AC “Star 101.5” KPLZ-FM and talk KVI – are now part of the roll-out of its STIRR XT digital audio service using the ATSC 3.0-based digital TV transmission standard.

Audio channels on Sinclair’s over-the-top internet service STIRR XT have been available for consumers with a NextGen TV connected to the internet since December 2020. The audio channels include STIRR XT-branded stations Stingray Hits List, Stingray Hot Country and Stingray Latin Hits, along with a dozen others.

The company’s broadcast radio stations will now be available on NextGen TVs as part of STIRR XT. According to Mark Aitken, Senior VP, Advanced Technology, for Sinclair and President of ONE Media 3.0, the roll-out is more than just another access point for listeners of the stations.

“One of the reasons we are doing this is because the automotive guys always ask: ‘Is there an alternative to digital radio [and] to SiriusXM that can be delivered via the ATSC 3.0 standard?’” he tells TV Technology.

The company hopes the ATSC 3.0 radio broadcasts will entice automakers to include 3.0 receivers in future models. “We think there is a real compelling reason to consider the inclusion of ATSC 3 receivers in cars,” Aitken says. “Once you’ve done that, all of the other opportunities for what can be carried in that digital spectrum open up.”

The 3.0 radio simulcast, which is slotted to begin in mid-February, will only be available via NextGen TV sets. However, Sinclair is developing its Mark One smartphone, which has a built-in 3.0 receiver, TV Technology reports. The phones join other 3.0 consumer devices in development, which will expand the reception of OTA 3.0 digital audio to mobile devices.

“We truly will be delivering radio broadcast content—just delivered over a different spectrum,” Aitken explains. “It’s not FM; it’s television spectrum.”

Sinclair is in discussions with other broadcasters about simulcasting their radio stations over the air via ATSC 3.0 with STIRR XT in other markets.