The impact of 5G on live broadcasting

Author: Rose de Fremery

Live broadcasting has brought us many memorable events in television and entertainment history. Whether tuning into a live sporting event or a breaking news story that defined a generation, many people can remember how it felt to share that experience with so many other people as it was happening. 5G technology has the potential to revolutionize how we experience our favorite live programming events, while also transforming how those live broadcasts are produced. Here's how 5G broadcasting can help bring us even closer to the live events that capture our attention.

5G and sports, news and more: Transforming live broadcasting

For over 50 years, media and entertainment companies have used communications satellites to bring live coverage of breaking news, sporting events and other special programming into our homes from locations around the globe. Producing a live broadcast involves production trucks, extensive cabling and specialty field gear, which can make it a costly, resource-intensive, and logistically challenging undertaking. In addition to the physical infrastructure, crews are also needed to set up, operate, and take down everything within a tight frame—often to do it all over again from scratch the next day.

With the arrival of 5G broadcast technology, some of these complex and expensive arrangements may no longer be necessary to create high-quality live programming where 5G is available. Just as viewers have used 5G-connected mobile devices to tune into their favorite matches and news shows from more places, broadcasters could use 5G connectivity to make their live programs more operationally efficient and cost-effective by transmitting large amounts of data from the device. Ultimately, media and entertainment companies could leverage 5G to create even more compelling live content that helps attract new viewers and keeps them engaged.

The benefits of 5G broadcasting

Whereas earlier cellular standards could not support live video transmission with the quality and scale that producers required for their broadcasts, using 5G for broadcasting has the potential to provide the robust bandwidth and low latency necessary for live video content contribution-distribution. 

5G broadcasting could offer the potential of significant production cost reductions for covering live events—by as much as 90%, according to a GSMA case study with TVU Networks. Whereas before, a live event required significant on-site staffing, including a director, camera crew, producer, engineers and editors. Now, major events could be covered with little more than 5G mobile phones, helping to reduce the financial impact of having large teams travel to provide coverage. 

5G and edge computing could also be used to deliver hyper-localized content, including multiple languages. Broadcasters could produce a piece of content and then use software powered by edge computing to quickly translate and repackage the content in order to optimize it for local audiences. This provides the opportunity for a faster and more efficient experience for both producers and consumers alike.

Live from 5G: Compelling broadcasts

Modern media and entertainment consumers can watch their favorite live programs in a variety of ways, tuning in via smartphones and tablets. As these viewers discover new ways to follow their favorite teams and events, they likely will increasingly crave novel and compelling perspectives. 5G can help broadcasters provide immersive and customizable experiences for fans in stadiums. For example, during the 2022 Indianapolis 500, fans onsite could access Verizon’s 5G Ultra Pass, an Augmented Reality (AR) portal, that offered 360-degree views from exclusive camera positions, including the track and the pit.

5G can also allow producers to work with multiple video streams, giving viewers the choice of different angles and perspectives should they wish to see the event from a particular perspective, such as a drone's view from above a stadium. Seasoned sports fans who think they've seen it all may find themselves treated to a new type of shot that helps them better understand what just happened at a critical moment in the game. This is an area where 5G and sports programming pair especially well, enabling dedicated fans tuning in from home—as well as those in attendance at the actual venue—to see the play-by-play action of their favorite sporting event. For example, Verizon 5G Multi-View gave motor racing fans at the track with 5G-capable devices the ability to follow up to seven live HD camera angles of the 2022 Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix

The possibility of producing high-quality live broadcasts and programming at a reduced cost, affords media and entertainment companies the opportunity to expand the catalog of coverage that they offer. With the ability to provide personalized programming (and advertising), broadcasters could reach new markets, increase viewer engagement and improve their competitive standing. In an era where audiences have access to an unprecedented variety of entertainment options, it is harder to grab their attention. 5G’s potential to offer massive bandwidth, low latency and high speeds can offer the possibility, where available, to provide compelling experiences during live broadcasting. Verizon’s technology and expertise can help provide the kind of enhanced experience that could potentially exceed audience expectations.

Learn how Verizon's 5G Solutions are driving transformation in media and entertainment.

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