The love of sports has not diminished despite lockdowns. Instead, it was an opportunity to prepare stadiums for the day when fans return in droves as they want to get more out of their gaming experience, especially as 5G rolls out across markets. According to Ericsson Consumer Lab’s Five Ways to a Better 5G report, 5G is already starting to drive new usage behaviors. The report also states that 5G early adopters not only reduce Wi-Fi usage worldwide, but also spend an average of two hours more on cloud gaming and one hour more on augmented reality (AR) apps per week compared to 4G users.
Superior internet connectivity delivers a better sports experience
Today’s fans are not only interested in watching the match, but also want to be more involved in the event with live statistics about their favorite teams/players, its location, weather forecast and its impact on the match, live chats etc. A better Internet connection has given a great boost to sports watching in countries around the world. With 5G-enabled services, this is expected to increase manyfold as the NextGen technology will deliver an enhanced mobile broadband experience and encourage both communications service providers and broadcasters to deliver enhanced and immersive experiences to viewers.
For example, if you’re watching a live game in a stadium with players standing far in the distance, you might want to get a little closer to home to understand what’s happening on the pitch. At this point, personalized views of the game in real time would be very helpful… An example of this already in use is Verizon 5G Multi-View. Verizon has now deployed its 5G Ultra-Wideband network in more than 70 U.S. stadiums and sports venues. There is a demand for fan involvement. No more binoculars. Instead of sending an experience to the fans, with 5G Multi-View, fans can change the way they experience the game – they can completely personalize it.
The Multi-View solution requires huge bandwidth and low latency. And in 5G-enabled stadiums, Verizon can offer seven streams of HD video to a smartphone, allowing fans to control the angle or view they want to watch and rewind the video feeds to see instant replays. Whether a spectator is in the high end of a venue, or in the low end but can’t see the end of the field, they can pull out their phone, hit the view they want and watch it in real time.
Without the low latency of 5G, Multi-View would not be possible. 5G has the potential to improve not only the way we look at the game, but also how we look at the players. We can see how a player moves, how he handles the ball or racket and analyze the chance of an injury. Furthermore, this real-time sports analysis can influence entire teams and their strategies. It can empower teams and coaches to make informed and informed decisions based on this next level of data they have access to.
In its 2020 Sport Survey, PwC interviewed a group of industry leaders about their perception of the key opportunities for the sports market and the three key opportunities that emerged are: improved digital media experience; digital asset creation and monetization and innovation in media rights packaging and distribution. Sports event companies partnering with service providers can take advantage of industry trends including digital applications, video-on-demand, and compelling immersive experiences such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
5G will revolutionize the stadium experiences in India, giving fans on-site and beyond a real-time immersive experience. The rollout of 5G in stadiums will create the opportunity for growth in services related to sporting events and venues. It also opens up revenue opportunities for service providers by enabling services that not only enhance the live experience for fans in venues, but also bring fans watching from home much closer to the game.
Some other recent examples where operators in different parts of the world have changed the in-venue experiences of sports fans over 5G include:
- Ooredoo Qatar brought fans an immersive sports experience with 5G services during the Amir Cup Final. The Al Janoub Stadium in South Qatar was equipped with 5G capabilities to give fans a glimpse into the enriched experiences 5G can provide while watching live sports. The immersive sports demo was broadcast live to a virtual stadium in the Mall of Qatar, where consumers could experience the VR and immersive experience of the match remotely.
- During the German football league season 2019/2020 DFL has developed a new immersive AR application. The application provides images, statistics and match analysis as an AR overlay in real time, and in the future the application will show detailed data about players and their performance
- Super Bowl 2021 increased live experience of fans with its 5G network. The immersive experience of the Super Bowl made interactive viewing possible. Phone users can use different camera angles from the stadium or from home. They were also able to project AR overlays when pointing their devices at their favorite players on the field.
Fans are eager to have a stadium experience with streaming and video-on-demand services before, during, and after the event. According to the Five ways to a better 5G report, immersive video, including AR and VR, already accounts for 20 percent of the total time 5G users worldwide spend on digital services. Service providers, along with other ecosystem players, are trying to accelerate the development of digital services to meet consumer needs while trying to unlock the full revenue potential of 5G.
Future of sport: where every seat is the best seat in the house
Research shows that consumers are ready for more immersive experiences. At ConsumerLab and IndustryLab, research — even a few years ago — found that half of the world’s smartphone users expect that by 2025 we will all be wearing AR glasses. And according to Ericsson’s latest 10 Hot Consumer Trends report, 55 percent of consumers want to visit a museum that uses advanced AR/VR technology to recreate historical events, giving them a sense of being there in person.
With the question there, how will this evolution translate to long-term sports experiences. In fact, athletes and players will enter the home themselves through augmented and virtual reality. In the future, every seat will be the best seat in the house through immersive technology, which will bridge the current gap between the stadium and the home experience.