WarnerMedia Innovation Lab Becomes Reality with Pending 5G New York Office Construction

WarnerMedia June 17 announced the location and architecture firm for its pending WarnerMedia Innovation Lab New York headquarters — powered by parent AT&T’s upstart 5G wireless network.

The Lab, which aims to address changing consumer media habits creatively and from a marketing/advertising perspective, also announced further details on its partnerships with WarnerMedia Ad Sales and with Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics company.

The 20,000 square foot facility located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, will feature an immersive zone for showcasing consumer-ready experiences visible to the public, flexible indoor and outdoor event spaces, dedicated R&D environments and an open and collaborative modern work space.

“The Lab is more than a technology incubator, but also a dream factory for us to create the wonderment that fans have come to love and expect from WarnerMedia,” Jesse Redniss, GM, WarnerMedia Innovation Lab, said in a statement. “Here we’ll flex the best of WarnerMedia’s creative storytelling capabilities combined with cutting edge technology from AT&T and our partners to deliver experiences that will be talked about for a lifetime.”

WarnerMedia properties include Warner Bros. Studios, HBO, Turner and Otter Media.

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The Lab, which is slated to open in early 2020, will bring 5G experiences to life through exploration and development initiatives, enabling a real-time virtualized collaboration ecosystem across WarnerMedia and the AT&T offerings.

In addition to the New York-based Lab, AT&T 5G initiatives include Warner Bros. in Los Angeles in time for AT&T SHAPEThe Lounge by AT&T in Seattle and WarnerMedia’s Atlanta studios.

“By working across AT&T, we’re able to combine the latest in 5G technology with immersive content experiences and cutting-edge advertising capabilities,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. “The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will be a space where developers, creators and visitors will be inspired to push the boundaries of entertainment, all powered by the company that first introduced the U.S. to the power of mobile 5G.”

AT&T Bringing 5G to Warner Bros. Studio Lot

Next-generation 5G mobile wireless connectivity may be more hype than reality at the moment, but that isn’t stopping AT&T from showcasing the technology next month at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles.

AT&T, which owns Warner Bros.’ operating unit WarnerMedia Entertainment, will bring a collection of 5G “experiences and demonstrations,” as well as an industry “thought leaders” to the studio for AT&T Shape, taking place June 22-23.

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AT&T will deploy 5G at the confab, which will ultimately become a permanent fixture and cover the entire Warner Bros. studio facility. Once operational, the mobile 5G connectivity will have the ability to maximize technical efficiencies and give content creators more flexibility to enhance the production experience.

“Partnering with AT&T to implement permanent 5G on the lot will allow Warner Bros. and our production partners the opportunity to explore all 5G has to offer,” Jon Gilbert, president, worldwide studio facilities, Warner Bros., said in a statement.

The interactive exhibits at Shape are designed to let attendees experience the responsiveness and speed of 5G, including the future of road-based travel in an IoT-enabled Airstream Classic travel trailer with “smart control technology” that AT&T is connecting over 5G.

Attendees will also see video gaming on 5G mobile devices, experience immersive entertainment with volumetric video and virtual reality content from Warner Bros.

“Developers, creators and media makers will see 5G technology and entertainment in new ways,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T mobility and entertainment. “By bringing 5G to Warner Bros., and other WarnerMedia properties in the future, we hope to inspire the next generation of creators to unlock the [network’s] full potential.”

Verizon and Google Partner for YouTube TV Access

Faced with no proprietary over-the-top video offerings, Verizon April 23 announced a partnership with Google to bring YouTube TV to Verizon subscribers across all platforms, including Fios TV and pending 5G.

YouTube TV is a standalone online TV service that just raised its monthly subscription price to $49.99 from $39.99.

“As we pave the path forward on 5G, we’ll continue to bring our customers options and access to premium content by teaming up with the best providers in the industry and leveraging our network as-a service strategy,” Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon.

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The partnership affords both wireless mobility and Fios broadband subs to stream YouTube TV. Verizon will also offer YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms.

“With this partnership, we’re making it simple and seamless for Verizon’s customers to sign up to enjoy YouTube TV on-the-go on their mobile phones or tablets or at home on their big screen devices,” said Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube.

YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV that can be watched on any screen (phone, tablet, TV, computer). It includes more than 70 networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, in addition to cable networks HGTV, Food Network, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand programming.

A YouTube TV membership includes six accounts per household, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR with no storage space limits.

Sprint Calls Out AT&T Over ‘False’ 5G Claims

Next-generation 5G wireless technology continues to get a lot of attention (and hype) — notably as an enhanced distribution channel for mobile video entertainment.

AT&T and Verizon have been among the first wireless carriers offering 5G networks in the country. AT&T last December said it become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

Indeed, consumer awareness of the fifth-generation wireless technology successor has reached mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Yet, 5G is still more marketing than reality. Availability of 5G-compatible phones to consumers might occur by the end of the year — with mainstream usage on par with 4G LTE years away, according to analysts.

That’s why Sprint is calling foul on AT&T regarding what it claims are false advertising and deceptive acts by the corporate parent to WarnerMedia to confuse consumers.

Sprint, which claims to have 54.5 million subscribers and is attempting merge with T-Mobile, took out a full-page ad in the March 10 edition of The New York Times accusing AT&T of allegedly deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a much-coveted and highly anticipated 5G network.

A recent survey commissioned by Sprint found 54% of consumers mistakenly believed, based on AT&T’s claims, that the company’s 5G E network is the same as or better than a true 5G network. Another 43% of consumers wrongly believed that if they were to purchase an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on a 5G network.

“AT&T is not offering its customers 5G but is delighted by the confusion they’ve caused with their deceptive ‘5G E’ marketing and attempt to convince consumers that they’ve already won the 5G race,” David Tovar, SVP, corporate communications, at Sprint said in a statement. “We’re not standing for this kind of deception, and neither should consumers.”

Indeed, Sprint filed a federal lawsuit asking that AT&T’s ads be stopped.

“Every carrier – every company – should tell consumers the truth and be held accountable for the promises they make,” Tovar said.

An AT&T representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

 

 

 

 

Verizon Eyeing New Customers, Entertainment Options for 5G

Verizon last October became the first telecom to launch residential 5G network coverage, with rollouts in Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento, Calif.

The $70 monthly (after 90-day free trial) service includes the choice of a free Apple TV device with 4K functionality or Google Chromecast device, and 90-days of access to online TV platform YouTube TV or Apple Music.

Verizon contends there is an addressable market of 30 million households for 5G – with about 50% first-time customers to the telecom.

Speaking Jan. 8 at Citi 2019 Global TMT West confab in Las Vegas, Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon Wireless, said early consumer feedback on the rollout is encouraging considering the dearth of 5G-combatible smartphones on the market.

Indeed, Verizon only revealed its first branded 5G smartphone – Motorola’s Moto Z3 – the day before the begin of CES Las Vegas. Samsung is making another one for the telecom.

Dunne said that unlike the challenging Fios pay-TV landscape, 5G promises new connections and content opportunities for creators.

“I think the whole content area will evolve … with developments of new genres of the snacking content, the short format content, which is so natural to the mobility space,” he said.

The executive doesn’t think 5G will necessarily be a lifeline to the existing pay-TV business model. Instead, Dunne believes 5G will enable a new business model that will evolve through a combination of what’s happening in the content space and the way people are accessing connectivity.

“Lots of people won’t have a traditional wireline [pay-TV] relationship, in which case they don’t need to buy 600 channels that they don’t watch,” he said.

 

 

LG Rolls Out Roll Up TV

LG Electronics literally rolled out what SVP of marketing David Vanderwaal called the “ultimate future TV”; it’s a TV that rolls out of the sound bar box below.

To oohs and aahs from the crowd, the company unveiled its LG Signature OLED TV R, which “magically rolls up,” senior director of product marketing Tim Alessi added during a Jan. 7 press conference at the CES show in Las Vegas.

The TV “brings freedom of design to a space,” Vanderwaal noted.

The TV can roll up only partway in the box, which includes a Dolby Atmos soundbar, to become a control console to check the weather and perform other functions.

In what is called the “zero view,” the TV is hidden completely and can be used to play music.

The company also announced LG’s first 8K OLED TV, device compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa (in addition to Google’s Assistant announced last year) and the addition of Apple AirPlay to the 2019 TVs.

In partnership with Qualcomm, LG phones will include the Snapdragon 5G mobile platform.

“5G will be a reality in 2019,” said Jim Tran, SVP and GM of handset products for Qualcomm Technologies, adding “you will be able to download a 4K movie in seconds.”

AT&T’s John Donovan to Deliver Keynote on 5G Opportunities at CES

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan will lead a keynote session titled “New Frontiers in Mobile” at CES 2019, the Consumer Technology Association announced.

Donovan will join MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan to discuss opportunities for 5G, the next generation technology for mobile.

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2019 takes place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. The keynote will begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Park Theater, MGM Park.

Presented by MediaLink, the keynote will explore how 5G will open up opportunities for robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences and public safety, among other industries. After Donovan’s talk, a panel of industry executives will discuss how global companies are developing marketing strategies to best engage consumers in this mobile, data-driven world. Confirmed keynote panelists include National Geographic CMO Jill Cress, Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch, Magic Leap CPO Omar Khan, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes, The Stagwell Group president and managing partner Mark Penn, and Ascential Events president and Cannes Lions chairman Phil Thomas.

“AT&T is a leader in the next-generation of connected mobility that will impact every aspect of our lives, and 5G is the platform that will enable that transformation,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, in a statement. “We are excited to have John Donovan and Michael Kassan lead this powerful CES keynote that will delve into the new world of 5G innovation and the next wave of connectivity.”

Donovan is responsible for the bulk of AT&T’s global telecommunications and U.S. video services businesses, including its Business, Mobility and Entertainment, and Technology & Operations groups, according to a CTA press release. Previously, Donovan served as chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations, where he led strategic planning for the company overall.

Kassan founded MediaLink in 2003, a strategic advisory firm serving companies at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, technology, entertainment and finance.

AT&T Launching First Domestic 5G Mobile Network Dec. 21

AT&T, beginning Dec. 21, says it will become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

The initial launch is limited to 12 cities, which include Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”

Observers contend 5G could have a significant impact on home entertainment.

Over the next decade, media and entertainment companies will be competing to win a share of a near $3 trillion cumulative wireless revenue opportunity, according to the recently released “5G Economics of Entertainment Report” commissioned by Intel and conducted by Ovum.

The report says that as early as 2025, 57% of global wireless media revenue will be generated by using the super-high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G networks and the devices that run on 5G. The low latency of these networks means that video won’t stall or stop — livestreaming and large downloads will happen in the blink of an eye.

AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, said that in the first half of 2019 it plans to deploy mobile 5G in seven additional cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

“As the ecosystem evolves, this technology will ultimately change the way we live and conduct business,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses. They’re the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we’ve never seen before.”

Through an initial offer, select businesses and consumers will have access to mobile 5G device plus 5G data usage at no cost for 90 days. It gets pricey thereafter. Next spring, customers will be able to get access to AT&T’s 5G mobile hotspot device, Nighthawk (manufactured by Netgear), for $499 upfront fee and 15GB of data plan, which starts at $70 a month with no annual contract.

Fox Innovation Lab Releases 5G Study on U.S. Open Trial

The Fox Innovation Lab has released a 5G study with Fox Sports, Intel, AT&T and Ericsson, highlighting the project at this year’s U.S. Open Golf Championship.

5G is the next-generation mobile technology.

The study, “5G at the U.S. Open: Live Streaming Without the Handicap,” outlines the results of the companies’ trial in June to put 5G to the test, streaming 4K video to Fox Sports national broadcast. The study reveals how the companies were able to deliver higher amounts of data with no delay and remove the cost of running fiber around the Shinnecock Hills golf course and reduce personnel and equipment needed on site. The study also showed the process could improve backhaul transmission costs to the distribution center. 

“While this was a fairly simple trial, it indicated that 5G is a technology that could drive the savings of millions of dollars over the course of a production year in terms of fiber deployment and backhaul transmission, after it is fully deployed over multiple types of sports broadcasts,” stated Mike Davies, FOX Sports SVP of technical and field operations, in the report. 

“From the Lab to on-location, we worked with our partners to integrate the capabilities of 5G into the workflow of a large-scale sports production, resulting in performance learnings that inform future, more complex use cases,” stated Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab.

5G: Supercharging Digital Delivery

It’s the new star in mobile that everyone is talking about: 5G.

The new technology, the next big advance for wireless customers, could have a significant impact on home entertainment.

Over the next decade, media and entertainment companies will be competing to win a share of a near $3 trillion cumulative wireless revenue opportunity, according to the newly released “5G Economics of Entertainment Report” commissioned by Intel and conducted by Ovum.
The report says that as early as 2025, 57% of global wireless media revenue will be generated by using the super-high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G networks and the devices that run on 5G. The low latency of these networks means that video won’t stall or stop — livestreaming and large downloads will happen in the blink of an eye.

The report forecasts that 5G will accelerate content consumption, including mobile media, mobile advertising, home broadband and TV, and improve experiences across a broad range of new immersive and interactive technologies — unleashing the full potential of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and new media.

Wireless carrier U.S. Cellular offers an interactive link that enables users to see the benefits of 5G in their daily lives.

“People are watching more and more of their content on their mobile phones, so having instant access to the highest-quality format of a movie, 4K with HDR, having it no matter where you are, this is enabled by 5G,” says Robert Powers, executive director of global technology and business development at the Fox Innovation Lab — the high-tech think tank and lab launched in 2014 to meld technology and entertainment.

The technology should dramatically increase download times and the overall content experience.

“No buffering, no matter what time; whether it’s Tuesday night at 3 a.m. or it’s Friday night at 7 p.m., you’re getting the same quality experience,” Powers says.

This is sweet music to Netflix and other over-the-top video services that increasingly eye mobile access as a requisite to subscriber growth.

Netflix reports about 70% of its content is streamed through a television in the home, not on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. As the SVOD pioneer expands globally, especially in countries such as India heavily dependent on mobile networks, 5G affords greater streaming video access to millions of wireless devices simultaneously.

Indeed, Netflix partnered with T-Mobile in the United States, offering the carrier’s mobile subscribers free access to content for a year. The carrier, which is trying to merge with Sprint, recently announced plans to spend $3.5 billion deploying 5G nationwide.

“I believe 5G will be a game changer,” Jeff Binder, EVP of home and entertainment at T-Mobile, told a tech confab in August.“4G changed the way people used their phones; 5G is going to change the way all of us use our home as well as our phone.”

Even President Donald Trump is touting the benefits of 5G adoption.

Trump issued a memorandum to jumpstart a federal push with the subject line “Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future.” The memo stated, “It is imperative that America be first in fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies — wireless technologies capable of meeting the high-capacity, low-latency, and high-speed requirements that can unleash innovation broadly across diverse sectors of the economy and the public sector.”

Verizon launched 5G network coverage in four cities: Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento, Calif. Rollout included the choice of a free Apple TV with 4K functionality or a Google Chromecast device, and 90 days of access to online TV platform YouTube TV.

Verizon has bet its future growth on 5G. In announcing an internal restructuring that focuses on technological improvements, CEO Hans Vestberg on Nov. 5 said, “We’re building on our network transformation efforts … to deliver new customer experiences and optimize the growth opportunities we see as leaders in the 5G era.”

AT&T, too, announced plans for a 5G rollout in several cities, including Houston; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; New Orleans; and San Antonio. The telecom previously cited Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Raleigh, N.C.; and Waco, Texas, for mobile 5G networks.

With large segments of their subscribers on mobile networks, telecoms and others eye 5G as a conduit toward greater direct-to-consumer efficiencies, including pay-TV.

AT&T is heavily marketing standalone online TV platform DirecTV Now, while Google’s YouTube TV was a main sponsor of the 2018 Major League Baseball World Series.

Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV could be a 5G beneficiary should the satellite TV operator’s dreams of a proprietary 5G network come to fruition.

“If you want to lead in 5G, I will guarantee you’re going to have to have a standalone network because that’s the only way you’re going to compete with other people in the world,” Dish co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen said on a Nov. 8 fiscal call.

“We’re at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity,” Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer at AT&T Communications, said in a statement. “Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet-to-be-discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks.

Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation.” Intel projects that by 2022 nearly 20% ($47 billion) of total media revenue will be generated on 5G networks. That increases to more than 55% ($183 billion) by 2025, and 80% ($335 billion) by 2028.

The report estimates that average monthly traffic per 5G subscriber will grow from 11.7 GB in 2019 to 84.4 GB per month in 2028, at which point video will account for 90% of all 5G traffic.

The new technology is also expected to streamline media production. In a June trial, Fox Sports, in cooperation with the Fox Innovation Lab and Ericsson, Intel and AT&T, used 5G technology to stream 4K video over 5G for broadcast at this year’s 118th U.S. Open Championship.

“We set up a 5G network at one of the holes of the golf tournament, and we wirelessly captured and delivered 4K content for DirecTV consumers,” Powers says. In addition to the achievement for 5G delivery, the experiment opened up new possibilities to save money in production.

“What used to happen is we had to run fiber from the back of the camera all the way across the course,” Powers says. “And if now we can send this content wirelessly, we don’t have to spend money on the labor and fiber to lay that down. This is an example of how a 5G network can bring us cost savings on the production side.”

A New Reality in 5G

In addition to better overall delivery of traditional entertainment forms, 5G will help forward virtual and augmented reality.

“VR today is ultimately limiting in that you have a cord coming out of the back of a headset that hooks to a machine and that limits your mobility, and VR inherently is not necessarily yet a social activity,” Powers says. “With 5G we feel like you can cut the cord off of the back of that VR headset and still be delivered the type of visual quality and latency that makes VR possible. And then beyond that, because of the speed of 5G you’re able to make VR part of a social experience.

I think those two factors are things that will improve the overall VR experience and ultimately make it a more commercial or more mainstream product.”

But augmented reality may be the biggest beneficiary of 5G, Powers says, offering the Pokémon Go experience — the groundbreaking AR experience that allowed mobile users to “capture” characters placed in the real world — on steroids.

“In a given square kilometer, 4G enables roughly 1,000 devices to be connected to the network, and in a 5G world that number jumps to a million; a million connected devices per square kilometer,” Powers says. “What that means for us is the ability to — when all of these objects around us essentially can have sensors and they can be connected — this forms a platform where it’s not just like the Internet of things, which we have right now today in our home, but it essentially becomes like the Internet of everything.”

This hyper-powerful, hyper-connected environment will produce entertainment experiences that have better graphics, that are more social and that, ultimately, offer new narrative structures that can follow consumers anywhere they go.

“We certainly haven’t wrapped our minds around it, and we certainly haven’t produced anything commercial, but one thing we did do this summer is we took our first crack at trying to complete one of these experiences on the Fox lot,” Powers says. “We used the Fox lot as the stand-in for our public space, and we tried to build an AR experience that took you around the Fox lot. As you went through it, you went through a narrative, interacting with AR characters that stood next to the Nakatomi Plaza (the Fox Plaza building made famous in the original Die Hard movie) or characters that were located in our commissary, and as you moved around the lot, you would interact with these characters through a narrative experience.”

What they found is that a traditional narrative didn’t work as well in the AR experience as did a more fluid narrative.

“What we found very quickly is, in those times where we move out of that traditional structure, that’s when the AR storytelling really began to pop for us,” Powers says.

The structure is more “amorphous,” he says.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter where you start the story,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you go from point A, B to C, or you go from point A, C to B. I think that’s one of the kind of foundational things that we’re really trying to wrap our minds around.”

5G could also allow consumers to engage as a character in a story in AR with friends.

“Imagine you are a horror fan, and you want to do Fox’s newest AR horror experience that is enabled by 5G,” Powers says. “You might gather five of your closest friends, and this experience begins on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. And on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, you have your mobile phone or maybe a tablet or eventually you’ll have very-easy-to-wear smart glasses that can deliver images to you, and the experience starts on that street corner. And as you move through the city, perhaps it next takes you to the Hotel Marmont, but as you move through the city you go through a horror experience that is a narrative story that because of the capabilities of AR blends digital assets with the real-world environments that you are in.”

These experiences are at least three to five years away, according to Powers, who believes entertainment will expand in ways not yet thought of.

“5G will enable the types of new content experiences that will expand the concept of how we think about home entertainment,” he says. “These are experiences that are more personal, they are adaptive and … [they] take you outside of your home.”

The Fox Innovation Lab built an augmented reality experience in 5G on the Fox lot during the summer of 2018, placing characters in real-life spaces to experiment with storytelling in AR. (Photo rendering courtesy of the Fox Innovation Lab/20th Century Fox)