Difference Between NTSC and ATSC

NTSC and ATSC are two different broadcasting standards for television signals. The acronyms NTSC and ATSC stand for National Television System Committee and Advanced Television Systems Committee, respectively. The main difference between NTSC and ATSC is how television transmissions are encoded and transmitted.

Read this article to find out more about NTSC and ATSC and how they are different from each other.

What is NTSC?

The NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard for analogue television broadcasting was first launched in the United States in 1941. The standard was created by the National Television System Committee, a group of engineers from the leading television equipment manufacturers at the time, including RCA, General Electric, and Westinghouse.

NTSC depends on a 525-line, 60Hz interlaced video format, which means that each video frame is divided into two fields of 262.5 lines each. The two fields are then interlaced to create a full video frame with 525 lines. This interlaced format was selected to minimise flicker on early television sets.

The NTSC system transfers video and audio data using amplitude modulation (AM). The video signal is modulated onto a carrier wave, with the carrier wave's amplitude changing in reaction to the video signal's strength. The audio signal is modulated onto a separate carrier wave, with the carrier wave's amplitude varying in reaction to the audio signal's strength.

One of the most significant limitations of the NTSC system is its low resolution and image clarity in comparison to contemporary digital broadcasting systems. By today's standards, the 525-line format is considered low-resolution, and the interlaced format can cause visible artifacts and distortion in fast-moving scenes.

Despite its drawbacks, NTSC remained the dominant television broadcasting standard in North America and a few other countries for decades. However, as digital broadcasting technology advanced and spread, NTSC was gradually phased out and replaced by digital standards such as ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee).

What is ATSC?

ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) is a digital television broadcasting standard that was launched in the United States in 1996. The ATSC standard was created by a group of engineers from major television equipment makers and broadcasters, and it is intended to provide higher-quality video and audio, more channels, and additional features than the older NTSC analogue standard.

The ATSC system uses a high-definition video format with a resolution of 1080i (1080 interlaced lines) or 720p (720 progressive lines), which provides considerably better resolution and image quality than the NTSC format's 525 lines. The signals are also transmitted using digital modulation methods such as 8VSB (8-level vestigial sideband) or COFDM (coded orthogonal frequency- division multiplexing).

The ability of the ATSC system to provide extra channels and features is one of its primary advantages. The system's digital nature provides for more efficient use of available bandwidth, allowing broadcasters to transmit numerous channels or subchannels within a single frequency band. This allows the transmission of extra content such as local news, weather, and sports programming, as well as interactive features such as EPGs and closed captioning.

Another benefit of the ATSC system over the NTSC analogue standard is its ability to provide better reception and resistance to interference. The ATSC system's digital modulation methods are less susceptible to signal degradation caused by interference or noise, resulting in a more stable and reliable signal.

Difference between NTSC and ATSC

The following table highlights the major differences between NTSC and ATSC −




Stands for

National Television System Committee (NTSC)

Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)

Signal Type

It is an analogue signal.

It is a digital type of signal.

Video Resolution

525 lines interlaced

720 or 1080 lines progressive

Audio Encoding


Dolby Digital


6 MHz

6 MHz or 19.39 MHz

Number of channels


Multiple channels or sub-channels

Interference Resistance




It has been phased out in most countries.

It is used mostly in North America.


In conclusion, NTSC and ATSC are two different broadcasting standards for television signals. While NTSC is an analogue broadcasting system that has largely been replaced by digital broadcasting standards such as ATSC, ATSC is a digital broadcasting system with better quality video and audio, more channels, and interactive features.

NTSC signals require an analogue tuner to be received, whereas ATSC signals can be received using digital tuners but are more susceptible to interference or signal loss. Finally, the decision between NTSC and ATSC will be based on region and broadcasting system.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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