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5G could change the way you watch football forever

12 Feb 2021

Hannes Ametsreiter

CEO, Vodafone Germany

5G is already starting to bring about some big changes. From the way we consume content, through to the way we travel or even receive medical care.

In the immediate term, the low latency, or reduced response time, of this next-generation network means quicker download speeds and higher quality images, resulting in a greater streaming experience for all.

However, there could also be improvements to what we are able to stream too as broadcasters will be able to produce different, more cost-effective content and improve production techniques.

Real-time television

Traditionally, live broadcasting requires a team of professionals such as a camera crew and production staff to all be on-site. Besides the staffing logistics, there is also the broadcast van and the satellite costs to consider, which can be expensive.

Using 5G, the live images can be sent directly from the camera, in which a 5G SIM card is installed, to a virtual transmission hub. This bypasses the van and the classic broadcasting centre, saving broadcasters time and money.

For viewers, this means live footage gets to their screen with little to no delay. Meanwhile, businesses can benefit from reduced costs and even increased efficiency as production teams would be able to work across multiple events on a single day.

This also opens up possibilities around remote working in the broadcast sector. With the final display of the live images controlled from a virtual broadcasting centre, final production could be carried out in the home office in future.


New perspectives for viewers

5G can open up completely new perspectives too. Since cameras no longer have to be connected to numerous cables, cameramen have more flexibility in what they’re able to shot, reaching new places that were previously difficult to cover. As a result, viewers get even closer to the action or have more exposure to what goes on behind-the-scenes.

With 5G, the mobile phone can also become a professional camera, capable of capturing, editing and even streaming live images that might be missed by the production team and recording them in 9:16 format, optimised for streaming on the go.

Getting closer to the action

In Germany, we’re working with Sky to bring this technology to life.

Starting with a test in December, we used 5G to support pre and post-game coverage during a live Bundesliga football match, for the first time.

Reducing the usual path of live images, the footage was sent from the stadium via a wireless camera in real-time, directly to a virtual studio in the cloud - Sky's production centres. From there they were sent directly to the TV screen or viewer’s smartphone to complement the live broadcast of the match.

In the living room, football fans could cheer with less lag time and experience completely new perspectives.

5G could change the way you watch football forever

5G could change the way you watch football forever


5G could change the way you watch football forever


5G could change the way you watch football forever


Network slicing

For this to work effectively in the future, a stable network and guaranteed capacity is essential.

This is where network slicing is crucial. Being able to fence off part of the network for a particular use will mean network providers can guarantee stability and capacity for the duration of the event.

Broadcasters would be able to book their own 5G network at short notice via a platform, similar to how they book satellite capacity now.

Connected stadiums

Something else that made this pilot possible was the fact we upgraded the Merkur Spiel-Arena, the home ground of Fortuna Düsseldorf, into a 5G stadium. This brings other benefits for fans, who will be able to rely on the power of 5G to check the scores in other stadiums without having to wait a second.

But that’s not all this technology can do.

Working with the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL), we’ve been experimenting with how sporting events can become more interactive and innovative. From connected seats that allow fans to order refreshments or stay warm, to receiving additional statistics on players direct to their mobile phone as the magic happens.  

For example, spectators will be able to see how fast a striker reached the opponent’s goal and how likely they are to play the ball – something you would usually only be able to find out after the match.

As this technology continues to develop, so too does our understanding of its capabilities and the ways in which it can bring about positive change to a vast range of verticals. From port management and manufacturing, to retail and the financial services.

Find out more about what 5G can do for you and your business.

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