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The 5G revolution: experiencing the stadium at home

5 Feb 2020   ·   

Future sporting broadcasts will be as impressive as videogames. The 5G revolution, which is the fifth generation of mobile networks, has already started in Camp Nou. It is going to be a game-changing experience for the fans watching a football match both at the stadium or at home

This new network will be ten times faster than the previous 4G, and inside the stadium, it will no longer be unstable due to the presence of thousands of fans connected. There will no longer be queues, as food and beverages will be ordered from the seat. At a glance, thanks to the development of tracking devices, in a near future it will also be possible to know which player has the ball, how many correct passes he has done, how many kilometers he has run and the speed.

If the match is being watched from home, now we are very close to enjoy a fulfilling experience. FC Barcelona and Telefonica have already begun to develop an immersive 360º broadcast project. With a virtual reality headset, it will be possible to watch the game from different spots within the stadium. From the bench with the coach, to living the experience from a player’s POV, thanks to the use of micro-cameras.

These advances in smart garments will also allow getting real-time data from players such as their heart rate, sweating… all information which concerns their effort within the match. The viewer will be the director of the broadcast, he will be able to choose and change the angles from which he decides to watch the game. It will be possible to choose virtual reality (VR) to connect with friends and be on the pitch with holograms.

AT&T and the Dallas Cowboys have enabled fans at the stadium with a VR headset, to access the changing room with the athletes. AT&T has also experienced with the Atlanta Falcons the possibility of projecting the viewers’ holograms while doing the well-known dance to celebrate a touchdown. In the NBA, the Sacramento Kings have begun to broadcast VR from the seats which are nearest to the court. The purpose of all these examples is clear: engage with the worldwide audience, to those who can’t go to the stadium.

All these broadcasting services are very demanding in terms of bandwidth, but it will be possible thanks to the 5G network as it will multiply online access speed up to 10 gigabytes per second, while it will use less energy from mobile phones.

When the 4G network was launched in the USA, the amount of data seven folded, now the growth might be exponential. However, the key to a great sports broadcast experience will be the low latency of the new system. With 5G it will be a millisecond, the average speed of a blink, which is of 300-400 milliseconds. A goal scored by Messi will be seen from the player’s POV live. Sports experience will be light years ahead of the current situation and it will be inconceivable without making use of a multiscreen service.

As it was mentioned in the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, this broad range of possibilities will also develop new business models. In the POVs to follow the match from the pitch, this added value experience, can be part of a premium broadcasting package. The number of new services will allow users to personalize different options which can be managed with a micropayment system. A recent Amdocs study has revealed that the new possibilities which the 5G network offers for sports broadcasting, is the main reason behind broadcasting networks (65%) to speed up the launch. For the first time, sport is boosting a technological advancement that will affect the whole society.

Sports journalists will also change their way of working as tactical monitoring will be done in a detailed way, requiring great expertise and thought in the matter. It will also be possible to experience the sound heard from an exact position on the pitch as well as choosing the POV of the broadcast which could be from a goal post, the bench or from a player as mentioned previously. This will also influence having the possibility of different commentators for the match. All this can take place without needing to invest much on the technical side. Fox Sports has estimated costs could be 34% lower compared to nowadays.

During the World Cup in Russia, a 5G broadcast took place for the match between Iran and Morocco, connecting the Kresovsky stadium in San Petersburg to a “5G Zone” in Moscow, where the game was followed using VR for different POVs on the go. 2020 might be the year this technology will start to explode with the UEFA Euro, taking place in twelve different cities or the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Barça Innovation Hub team


Building the future of the sports industry