The bar for live sports broadcasting has never been higher. Today’s viewing experience must now not only provide convenient and highly connected access – it must also replicate the live experience on-screen as closely as possible, offering a variety of compelling, immersive and highly personalized technologies in the highest possible quality. Through advancements in streaming technology and faster broadband connectivity, dedicated sports fans are now entering an era of live TV that rivals “being there” – from anywhere.
Of course, in order to stream live sports or, indeed, any form of live event, high connectivity is fundamental. Fans value the availability, convenience and accessibility of live content more than any other. Yet the majority tend to demand access to their streamed content just moments before a game or sporting event commences. Therefore, the need to scale up and down is very important.
Ericsson’s November 2018 Mobility Report states that video traffic in mobile networks is forecast to grow by around 35 percent annually through to 2024, to account for 74 percent of all mobile data traffic. Coupled with users consuming more and more video via their smartphones, the role of 5G is set to play a critical role in helping content providers draw out new user experiences by reducing the strain placed on network operators.
If we look at how this might affect the Outside Broadcast (OB) landscape, the growth of 5G can offer a more cost effective and flexible alternatives to satellite uplinks for the delivery of Ultra High Definition (UHD) content and immersive viewing experiences. Last year, for instance, MediaKind partnered alongside Ericsson, Fox Sports, AT&T and Intel to successfully deliver a live stream of the US Open golf tournament in 4K over 5G, providing a powerful use case for reducing low production costs and enabling high quality, low latency bandwidth to efficiently deliver UHD content.
For viewers, the US Open demonstration provided entirely new ways to engage with a live event, directly responding to the ever-increasing demands for the best experience for everyone, everywhere. Over the next 12 months, we will see an array of new 5G-enabled innovations entering the media space, plus a lot more experimentation. From a sports fan’s perspective, this might include 4K video featuring 360-degree views of a racing car from the driver’s perspective, consumed on a second screen or headset to help augment the overall user experience and bring viewers closer to the action.
In short, the advent of 5G is set to open up enormous opportunities to improve both sports production and the overall viewing experience. If you’re attending NAB Show 2019, I warmly invite you to the Destination 5G Theater (SU13306) on Tuesday April 9 (14:00 – 14:30), where I will be discussing how when it comes to live sports, there really is no end to the growing demand for greater realism and clearer picture quality from passionate fans. My session ‘Let the 5G Games begin: pathways to immersive experiences’ will outline why the media industry is ready for a revolution in how video is created, distributed and consumed.
Learn how today’s media players can differentiate themselves by offering immersive, complementary experiences to consumers through a broad range of exciting applications. By enhancing the sports experience through the delivery of high quality 4K/HDR video and 360-degree view points, operators and content creators have a real opportunity to bring new experiences to their audiences – all of which can be achieved by harnessing the power of cost-effective 5G networks. The future of immersive sports viewing is an open race – join me next week to find out in which ways the 5G games have already begun!
To read Arun Bhikshesvaran’s Destination 5G Theater preview, please click here.