As a technologist and sports fan, there isn’t much that excites me more than 5G and its power to completely transform attendee experience at live events.
5G Broadcast can unlock experiences to create an innovative dimension to live events that will not only enhance customer experience, but also increase channels of engagement. The opportunities here are vast, but there are several challenges to confront before the potential of 5G broadcast technology for live events can fully be realised.
Testing out 5G Broadcast
As part of 5G VISTA, part of Digital Catapult’s work has involved holding workshops with esteemed broadcasters, sports teams and venue managers - from Arsenal and Live Nation, to BT and the BBC. Presenting different use cases to them, we picked their brains on how something like VISTA could benefit industry and got their perspectives on potential different business models for VISTA.
Here were 5 key takeaways from our industry experts:
Sports or events where you cannot see all the action from one position have a more obvious appeal. Take cricket matches, golf or motor racing as an example; a multi-angle app could allow spectators to get a better view of the action that’s about to take place – whether that’s following their favourite F1 driver round the track, or following different golfers playing on different holes.
“I can absolutely see people jumping on their phones to see certain angles or replays in sports that are punctuated by breaks - like cricket or motor racing.”
An app like VISTA is first and foremost targeted at the consumer, and adoption is entirely reliant on positive consumer engagement.
Focus should be on augmenting and improving a live experience, rather than detracting. Elements such as live statistics or access to backstage interviews could offer something additional to enhance in-stadia events.
“You need to find the right moments, the right environments where the technology actually compliments and adds something to the experience, rather than detracts from it.”
Cabling and wifi are a key pain point in large stadium sports, such as football. Despite 3 of 4 Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) offering 4G coverage in large football stadiums, many networks can become unstable on match days.
5G Broadcast has the potential to offer a solution here, as a large number of users access the same content at the same time. You can also deploy a smaller number of antennae to cover large areas, minimising the cabling and network complexity, and potentially offering the same services in smaller venues.
“If football clubs can find a technology that allows stadiums to move away from cabling, it could be incredibly beneficial.”
A challenge is promoting the value of 5G Broadcast over alternative technologies, such as unicast, to network operators, service providers and application developers.
While most mobile and internet communications are ‘one to one’, 5G Broadcast is ‘one to many’; it takes a single stream and sends it to multiple users. They all receive the same content at the same time, in this case, to a mobile handset or a smart TV.
5G Broadcast allows mobile operators can use their scarce spectrum more efficiently, and is able to support SIM-less devices, thus expanding the range of supported end users.
In spite of the consumer benefits of VISTA, our experts acknowledged complications in terms of rights management and ownership of content. Taking football as an example, the Premier League owns the rights to all games.
As such, a project like VISTA should explore opportunities that focus on broadcasting to attendees at and during the event itself. Meanwhile, any new broadcast service should work in tandem with existing business partners and commercial agreements.
A technically ambitious project such as VISTA is essential to get right, and the broadcast space is complex both from a legal and technological standpoint.
However, working together with other market-leading experts, we’re helping to further develop the device and network ecosystem to support 5G broadcast, and deliver seamless experiences to end-users.