How 5G network slicing could benefit the media and entertainment industry

Author: Rose de Fremery

Date published: March 18, 2024

The media and entertainment industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation, exploring the potential of emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create thrilling new immersive experiences. 5G network slicing, when available, will be key to this evolution, making it possible not only for fans to inhabit the stories they previously only followed as spectators but also for them to enjoy enhanced live sporting events and a wider range of high-quality programming produced live on location. Here's an introduction to network slicing and how 5G in media and entertainment will soon bring cutting-edge experiences to entertainment fans.

What is 5G network slicing?

5G network slicing, when fully deployed, could enable media and entertainment businesses to use multiple virtual networks on top of a shared physical network. These 5G network slices are essentially segmented from one another, allowing companies to create tailored 5G network services according to the exact requirements for specific use cases. With the unprecedented agility that 5G offers, media and entertainment companies could embrace new business models and innovative approaches to content creation not previously possible.

For example, a media business might request a 5G network slice to enable an exceptional VR experience or deliver a stellar live production at a reduced cost. Media and entertainment firms could also have the 5G network slices they are using adjusted by requesting more spectrum or bandwidth as needed so they can confidently scale new services for growth. Companies could also combine advanced networking technologies like SD-WAN with 5G network slicing to enable enhanced security across all of their network slices.

How does 5G benefit the media and entertainment industry?

5G in media and entertainment could generate up to $1.3 trillion in revenue by 2028, representing almost half of the total projected $3 trillion in overall wireless revenue by that point. As media and entertainment businesses explore 5G's potential, they are focusing on promising use cases in four areas: immersive and interactive media, streaming, live and remote productions.

Immersive and interactive media

Sports leagues and entertainment companies are exploring 5G network slicing's potential to bring the metaverse to life, beginning with fan experiences involving extended reality (XR) technologies such as AR and VR. For example, the Florida Panthers are considering the possibility of providing their fans with access to the best seats in the arena from the comfort of home using virtual reality headsets. Such technology could also support different types of VR programming, further enriching the game day experience beyond the main broadcast. Meanwhile, major film studios are already developing proof-of-concept scenarios for VR in which fans of hugely popular film franchises can step directly into the compelling worlds they've seen on the silver screen.

These kinds of immersive experiences will rely on high-performing 5G network connections that can meet the low latency requirements associated with AR and VR environments. This is where network slicing could be especially impactful. According to Ericsson's Mobility Report for November 2022, XR-related services will start to see significant growth toward the latter half of the forecast period spanning 2022 to 2028, with AR, in particular, expected to place significant demands on 5G mobile network dimensioning during that time frame.

5G streaming

As the streaming competition heats up, innovation in the customer experience will be increasingly crucial to ensuring a competitive advantage and achieving long-term success. Over-the-top (OTT) streaming services rely on excellent network performance in order to serve up today's hit television shows and movies–going forward, 5G streaming offers them an effective way to innovate their streaming-based services to integrate additional content and experiences, such as mixed-reality streaming and other virtual experiences such as metaverse meetings. According to Heavy Reading's 5G Network Slicing Operator Survey, 39% of organizations consulted plan to use 5G network slices to deliver and monetize OTT services, and an additional 31% of them would consider doing so depending on the strength of the business case.

Live productions

Today's live productions can be complex, costly and infrastructure-intensive endeavors. A vast array of resources and personnel is required to shoot a television show on location or broadcast a sporting event in progress, including production trucks, miles of cabling, specialty field gear and, of course, a full crew to configure it, operate it, maintain it and then tear it all down again afterward.

5G network slicing could allow media and entertainment businesses to deliver live productions over the cellular communications network without compromising on the high standards that are required. Network slicing could also enable broadcasters to rapidly deploy additional bandwidth to a specific location where a breaking news event is taking place, guaranteeing coverage continues without a dip in performance. Crucially, 5G could help make such live broadcasting possible at a reduced overall cost, empowering smaller on-site teams to produce larger quantities of original content at scale.

Remote productions

Media and entertainment businesses could also use 5G network slicing to transform remote production workflows. In addition to ensuring cost-effective live production capabilities, this technology can also allow remotely located personnel to mix and edit content just as quickly and efficiently as they would if they were physically located on-site—without relying on expensive and complicated infrastructure, such as fiber optic connections and satellite links.

Smaller broadcasters and social media content creators who don't have the resources of a national TV network could use 5G to expand their coverage at a lower price point and gain a foothold in an intensely competitive market. News and content consumers will appreciate having increased access to niche programming that speaks to their personal interests and tastes—content that might not otherwise have made it to their screens at all due to the outsized investment that would have otherwise been required to produce it.

Explore the benefits of 5G for media and entertainment

5G could help open up new business opportunities for the media and entertainment sector. According to the aforementioned Ericsson report, all growth in mobile data traffic will come from 5G in 2028. Video traffic is estimated to account for around 70% of all mobile data traffic, a share that is forecast to increase to 80% in 2028. As companies explore the many advantages of 5G in media and entertainment, they are taking an especially close look at the benefits of 5G network slicing.

Discover how Verizon's 5G Solutions can help your media or entertainment business.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.