COMING SOON: THE 5G SPORTS EXPERIENCE: "Expect to see the first of these new services and applications rolled out in conjunction with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and soccer tournaments in Europe, among other big events on the sports calendar".

Author:Boulton, Nicholas

5G WILL TRANSFORM the sports experience for fans in stadiums and at home, according to research conducted by Ovum for Amdocs. Sixty-three percent of the world's largest network operators plan to use augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), or a hybrid of these technologies, supported by 5G, to offer richer viewing experiences to fans.

Promising speeds up to tens of times faster and lower latency than 4G, 5G opens up the possibilities for new types of entertainment and in-stadium experiences. Audiences could, for example, watch instant replays and 360 degree streams or look up player stats via AR and VR technology, bringing them much closer to the action.

5G also will transform the at-home viewing experience of sports events, with 81% of operators planning to offer new multi-screen Pay-TV and subscription Internet video streaming services. 5G will improve mobile television and video quality and increase the range of mobile content available to audiences, across a range of consumer devices and services.

The research surveyed C-level executives from the world's 100 largest operators. Some of these execs even intend on owning a sports team in the 5G era as they look to expand their involvement in the athletic ecosystem. This is likely to result in growing investments in 5G connectivity and services at stadiums and large venues.

Audiences may not have to wait very long to enjoy enhanced sports fan experiences. Seventy percent of operators claim that upcoming major sports events, such as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and European [Soccer] Championship, are influencing their 5G roll-out timelines. Moreover, 91% of operators plan to trial 5G within sports and esports venues by the end of 2020.

Fans of esports--professional multiplayer video game competitions--also will experience 5G-supported experiences in the near future. Most operators plan to support esports in the 5G era, as technology partners to esports event organizers (73%), broadcasters of the action (55%), or with far bolder plans, including esports team ownership (18%).

The esports event most popular in operators' 5G plans, only outranked by the Olympics and top soccer tournaments, is ELEAGIJE, the professional Counter-Strike league and championship. Esports is growing rapidly in popularity, with viewing metrics, prize money, and sponsorship all increasing substantially year-on-year and is being considered for entry into the Olympics as a new discipline for Paris 2024.


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