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How to Deliver Untethered Immersive Experiences for Live-Streamed Sports

The convergence of three key technologies--5G, cloud-based video processing, and 360-degree video--is creating a new freedom in the art of live sports production and delivery.

Live 360 Sports with Deutsche Telekom

Six months later, towards the end of last year, we were working with some other different types of technologies. Back in November and December last year, with Deutsche Telekom in Germany, we were doing live 360 multi-camera sports capture and streaming. This project was all about enabling that immersive sports experience: multiple camera angles, all streamed to consumers, and using cloud-based processing to take away all of that infrastructure and cost from being processed onsite and moving more of that processing back into the cloud.

Here we had live 360 cameras, upping the resolution to 6K rather than the more normal 4K resolution used for 360. And from the event, the venue from the stadium up into the public cloud, we ran one event at 200 Mbps. For the second event, we ran at 60 Mbps per camera up into the cloud.

Then, in Google Cloud, we did all of the conversion, tile-based processing, and publication for the two 360-degree video channels that were streamed to consumers. Using tile-based technology, the bitrate required to get 360 to the consumers’ devices in the home was, on average, around 12Mbps to the consumer. We used five-second segments, so we had about a 30-second end-to-end latency from the camera through to the consumer device.

5G On-the-Go

Again, this showed the flexibility of pushing high-compute video processing up into the public cloud, making it much more cost-effective and flexible, on an event-by-event basis, to do that for 360-type coverage.

That leads us to the sort of final direction that we see it going: all of these technologies in combination--5G, cloud-based processing, 360-degree video--enabling some new and different first-person immersive experiences. This means new ways to cover premium sport content and give consumers new primary experiences, or grow some fan loyalty by providing a second-screen experience while people are watching your normal, big-screen TV coverage.

5G untethers camera locations so shooters can go anywhere, even to the point of being on people, and accomplishes this with small-form-factor, 4K, 8K and 360-degree cameras. 5G chipsets are now available, and being integrated into 5G modem packs for on-person, on-back-of-camera use. This makes access to 5G technology for untethered cameras quite accessible, reducing setup, people costs, and all the other things that news coverages benefited from with microwave and with 4G bonding technology, and the same thing that's been happening with high-quality production for live sports events as well.

Cloud-based processing really means that we can start to move more remote production into the cloud with low latency, giving us the ability to do all of that camera production and camera management remotely. The throughput that we're able to get on these types of networks gives us the ability to maintain high-quality capture. Using cloud-based infrastructure means that we've got event-by-event based processing. Thus these combinations of technologies are enabling a new experience for live sports coverage.