Digital Distractions from Daily Life
As 5G heats up, it promises significant benefits to an array of entertainment services, from movies to gaming to live sporting events. The both real and projected use cases for 5G entertainment will increase rapidly, as new technologies, applications, and user experiences are stacked onto lightning-fast data capabilities.
A 2018 report by Intel, based on a study by the research firm Ovum, gives us the projected numbers and a description of the potential impact of 5G on entertainment:
“Thanks to the new network capabilities brought by 5G, annual mobile media revenues will double in the next 10 years to $420bn in 2028 ($124bn in the US). The transformative impact of 5G will go well beyond just enhanced mobile media. It will disrupt the industry on many levels, with new business models and new immersive interactive experiences to capitalize on. Video, gaming, music, advertising, AR, and VR will all see fundamental changes due to 5G, bringing content and audiences closer. Ultimately, we expect 5G to help bring a new, tactile dimension to entertainment.”
Let’s look at some of the ways 5G will influence the entertainment space:
We can’t talk about 5G entertainment without discussing how it will play out in the industry’s mecca: Hollywood. We are already seeing the power of computer generated imagery (CGI) and other technological innovation (4K, 3D, etc.) on full display in high-tech movie theaters. What happens if you pair the existing Hollywood tool kit with a fully functional 5G wireless platform? Hollywood magic, that’s what.
Imagine downloading a full-length movie in seconds rather than minutes and accessing full resolution online streaming content almost instantaneously rather than waiting for buffering to complete. Even at a theatrical level, 5G enables 4K+ livestreaming, between 5x to 20x the bandwidth of 4G networks. This is a far more time- and space-optimizing solution vs. traditional physical film reels.
5G also paves the way for more immersive theatrical experiences such as AR, VR, mixed-reality, and location-based. We’ll cover more about these experiences in the gaming section below.
From a production standpoint, 5G enables cloud-based production workflows and other innovations to aid in the creation of expensive high-quality content. Disney and Verizon just announced a 5G-based partnership for production innovation at CES earlier this year.
Gaming, a Matter of (Virtual) Life or Death
Speed and low latency are key selling points for 5G, and nothing illustrates that better than the gaming industry — where it’s always a matter of virtual life and death. Global gaming competitors with slow or clunky internet connections can find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. This could result in letting their fellow team members down because of their character’s slow responses, or even suffering a premature “death” because signals just couldn’t travel fast enough across the transom.
A 5G infrastructure is expected to offer the programmable network and quality of service (QoS) that gamers would die (or not die) for. Intel predicts that by 2028, 5G mobile gaming revenue will hit $100B a year.
Immersive content, VR, AR, cloud gaming — these are all platforms that could benefit from a faster and more responsive interface. In fact, for VR experience, 5G is critical, since the immersive nature of VR requires a latency level fast enough that users don’t experience nausea. 5G connectivity may also de-couple VR head-mounted displays from the powerful PCs that are currently needed to run VR, and that removes the tether that’s keeping players restricted to a limited physical space.
AR is also poised to evolve considerably as a result of 5G. While AR currently consists of virtual contextual information layered onto the real world, by 2028, Intel predicts that AR gaming will make up more than 90% of 5G AR revenues, or $36B globally. This is a major shift from the existing business-based AR applications.
The Wide World of Live Sports
For the 2018 US Open, Fox Sports partnered with AT&T, Ericsson, Intel, and Fox Innovation Lab to attempt to broadcast live, high definition sports video over 5G. The result was promising:
“The U.S. Open project demonstrated stable, high-throughput wireless transmissions and identified anticipated areas of value in lowering the production costs for live event coverage…. As we demonstrated in this trial, 5G is an excellent transmission method for moving very high bitrate 4K camera images from the green to the on-site production compound and indicates potential cost efficiencies.”
5G promises to be a game-changer for game watchers in the digital age. Interactive television and internet streams will allow viewers to see the big game from all angles, to toggle to interesting player data, and to immerse themselves in the whole experience from a distance. And even at the ballpark, fans may even have instant replay and other digital services at their fingertips, courtesy of services delivered over a powerful 5G infrastructure. Other possible future innovations with 5G include: real-time interactions inside VR and AR experiences, simulated training modules, and state-of-the-art connected stadium facilities.
As with all technological advances, 5G doesn’t come without some challenges. Violent, illicit, or inappropriate content already proliferates on the internet, and a faster, more efficient distribution platform could just mean more unchecked delivery of undesirable content. This spring’s livestreaming of a shooting at a mosque in New Zealand is one sobering example of this.
Also, the expensive and slow rollout of 5G could mean that many entertainment services may not be universally accessible for some time. It’s a matter of the technology catching up with the entertainment providers. It can also further widen the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots”, as the world moves more towards increased connectivity, leaving the less connected behind.
As is the case with the transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing industries, there’s no doubt the entertainment companies are excited about 5G, touting its impact at conferences and in earnings reports. However, how universally 5G will be adopted and in what timeline is dependent on the many conglomerates in the complicated value chain that makes up entertainment. But as we have seen time and time again, artistry and technology will surely work together to create a whole new something that will give us the diversions we seek from the daily grind of life.