5G wireless networks are poised to bring fans customizable live video viewing experiences, from Formula 1 racing to sports events to concerts.
Fans go to sporting events and concerts for the thrill of the action, the sensation of being there and to feed off energy of the crowd. But often spectators miss subtleties and different perspectives on the experience. Experts working on 5G wireless technology want to change that by giving live event attendees and viewers more control over what they see.
With more bandwidth and lower latency than previous generations, 5G networks could give live event fans control over how they watch and interact with their favorite musicians, sports teams and players, according to Caroline Chan, vice president and general manager of Intel’s 5G Infrastructure Division and Network Platform Group.
She said next generation wireless networks could even allow friends to sit together virtually at an event, even though in real life one person may be in New York and the other in Los Angeles. It could also allow fans to share 360-degree views of their favorite plays and players. These are just some of the entertainment experiences Chan said could become more readily available in the next few years, as 5G technology becomes prevalent.
“Imagine you have an app on your smartphone that will give you various angles from which to see a specific player or musician,” Chan said.
“You might focus on the drummer up close and even get social media feeds or interesting bits of information incorporated into different video views.”
The viewer may even tune into a microchannel where an internet celebrity or a favored hometown sportscaster gives real-time critiques or play-by-play commentary, she said.
More Data, Faster Could Power New Video Experiences
Last year at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, Chan’s Intel team worked with Nokia, China Unicom and Tencent Cloud to build a 5G trial with Nokia to experiment with new viewing experiences for live event spectators and online viewers watching Formula 1 racing.
One reason 5G networks will be faster and more capable is so-called edge computing, which brings data processing and analysis closer to where it’s needed, like at and around a live event, explained Chan. The network’s processing power helps cut down latency that otherwise occurs when data is sent to and from a central data center for processing and analysis.
[Learn about Intel Xeon D-2100 processors, designed to help network providers and business prepare for 5G by optimizing data center and edge computing technologies to meet the growing data demands from smart, connected devices.]
Chan said edge technology will allow 5G networks to deliver multiple streams of high-quality video very quickly. In a 2017 pilot of 5G at Mercedes-Benz Arena, spectators at the stadium could follow four different high-definition channels in real time on their mobile devices. They also saw text appear on the video, giving them more details about the racer they were watching on the screen.
“As spectators zoomed in on a particular Formula 1 driver, they saw the race from the driver’s viewpoint and learned about his story, giving them the thrill of the event and a deeper understanding,” said Chan.
[Dive deeper into smart stadium technologies: A Step Towards 5G: Using Multi-Edge Computing to Cut Live Video Latency at Concerts and Sports Arenas.]
Because 5G enables this merging of content, viewers become immersed in the action, Chan said. In the future, she said fans watching a live music concert from home could choose different vantage points, see information about the artist and follow related social media posts about the event.
Mobile Video Frenzy
As 5G networks come online in the next couple of years, worldwide subscriptions could reach more than 2.6 billion by 2025, or about one in every five mobile connections, according to market research firm CCS Insight. The global wireless trade association GSMA expects half of all mobile connections in the North America will be on 5G by 2025.
Mobile broadband access on smartphones as the principal driver of 5G adoption, at least initially, according to Geoff Blaber, vice president of research at CCS Insight.
“We’ll see the first 5G deployments most likely in the United States and China in early 2019,” Blaber said. “In the near term, the driver for 5G is to provide new capacity, especially for mobile video.”
Millennials tend to watch content on mobile devices rather than stationary TVs. Today video accounts for more than half of all mobile traffic, and is expected to increase to over 75 percent by the end of 2023, according to Millennials’ Expectations for 5G, a report published by Ericsson.
In a survey of 14,000 smartphone users in 14 countries, 28 percent of respondents ages 15 to 24 stream on-demand videos from one to three hours a day and 17 percent stream for three to six hours, according to the report.
That’s one reason why network service providers are partnering with (or acquiring) companies that have content, said Chan. Verizon bought Yahoo last year, for instance, and AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner.
“It’s all about combining content in new ways and personalizing it for the user,” said Chan.
She explained that soon football fans might be able to buy a package to watch games from the point of view of a favorite player, rather than just the angles provided by a network broadcast.
Blaber expects many surprises as 5G becomes the norm.
“With every transition to a new generation of network technology, not all use cases are immediately clear,” he said.
He said nobody predicted that the transition from 3G to 4G would make possible a company like Uber, which has built a mobile technology business based on ride sharing.
“It usually ends up being more like, ‘Build it and they will come.’”
By combining computing power and access on the edge of the network, 5G can connect more people in the world, giving them greater access to entertainment experiences and even vital resources like education and healthcare, said Chan.
“It will democratize people’s access to technology,” she said.