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.

Fox Teams With Ericsson, Intel, AT&T to Deliver 4K Over 5G at Golf Championship

Fox Sports, in cooperation with the Fox Innovation Lab and Ericsson, Intel and AT&T, will use 5G technology to stream 4K video over 5G for potential broadcast nationwide at this year’s 118th U.S. Open Championship June 14 to 17.

The 5G wireless technology will transmit 4K HDR images from two Fox Sports cameras positioned on the seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club through the Fox Sports production truck, making it available to Fox Sports and its viewers through DirecTV. In the future, 5G could possibly be used to deliver real-time virtual reality views from the course to viewers, according to a Fox press release.

Deployed for the first time at broad scale earlier this year by Intel and partners at the Winter Games in PyeongChang, the new 5G wireless technology enables multi-gigabit speeds with ultra-low latency, according to the release.

“It’s part of our Fox Sports DNA to aggressively explore evolving technologies as part of our live sports production,” Michael Davies, Fox Sports SVP of field and technical operations, said in a statement. “This is exactly the kind of effort we consistently put into the leading edge of today’s technology, in preparation for what will become the industry standards of the future.”

The Fox Innovation Lab is supporting the Intel and Ericsson 5G Innovators Initiative (5GI2) in its mission to drive the future of next-generation entertainment.

“The Fox Innovation Lab was started four years ago for exactly this type of initiative — to test emerging technologies and bring them to life in real-world applications by working across 21st Century Fox and in partnership with leading technology companies,” said Danny Kaye, EVP and managing director, Fox Innovation Lab, in a statement. “We are excited about the potential of 5G to transform the way we capture and deliver premium content to audiences.”

Ericsson is providing the 5G radios, baseband, simulated network core, and 4K video encoder and decoder.

“As we prepare for the launch of 5G networks, it is essential for us to test real-world business cases, such as for wireless streaming of 4K video at sporting events,” said Niklas Heuveldop, head of market area North America, Ericsson, in a statement. “In collaboration with our partners, Ericsson is proud to demonstrate this type of innovative entertainment solution, utilizing both our networks and media technologies. This is just one eye-opening example of the increased relevance high performance wireless networks will have for delivering a superior consumer experience.”

Intel is providing the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. It will be at the seventh hole to deliver the 5G to IP translation.

“Building from our innovation at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games where we had 22 live 5G links, supporting 3,800 terabytes of network capacity, we are again enabling 5G in a real-world environment at another exciting sporting event. Intel, along with partners AT&T, Ericsson and Fox Sports, is showcasing live 5G connectivity at the U.S. Open,” said Asha Keddy, VP and GM of next generation and standards, Intel, in a statement. “Our learnings from this collaboration will fuel a stronger 5G user experience in live sports while the industry drives towards development of 5G devices and network build-outs, creating new business opportunities that will result from the rich media experience delivered by 5G.”

AT&T will use millimeter wave spectrum to deliver the 5G connection. AT&T also plans to be the first U.S. carrier to launch standards-based, mobile 5G services to customers in a dozen cities, including parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, later this year, according to the release.

“5G ultimately promises to transform the video experience and enabling this live 4K broadcast is a great early example,” Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T technology and operations, said in a statement. “The high-speed and low-latency delivered by this trial allows the cameras to move without being restricted by cables and create a unique filming environment.  We believe live sports will be transformed by 5G — whether it’s virtual and augmented realities for those watching from afar or how connected sensors could help analyze golf swings, wind conditions, even the speed of greens for the golfer in future U.S. Opens.”

NBC Airing First-Ever Live Winter Olympics Virtual Reality Coverage

NBC Jan. 8 announced it would provide more than 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea.

Virtual Reality immerses the viewer into an environment, whether real or imagined, creating either a lifelike experience at a place in the real world or putting a viewer into simulated environments such as in a VR game.

The VR coverage will be available to authenticated users with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, with compatible iOS or Android devices via the NBC Sports VR app.

It marks the first time that VR will be available for a Winter Olympics and that VR programming will be live in the U.S on a wide range of devices and platforms.

“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics, said in a statement.

VR programming will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, and big air, among other events.

NBC Olympics will offer VR replays of all events previously livestreamed; one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR the previous day; and packaged highlights from the day before.

“We are enabling a truly immersive experience, where fans get closer to the action than ever before allowing them feel like they are sitting in the stands for a front and center view of history being made,” said James Carwana, VP and GM of Intel Sports Group, which is working with NBC on VR coverage. 

Viewers will be able to customize their experience by switching between multiple vantage points, hear natural sound captured at each camera location to provide a truly immersive experience, and enjoy real-time stats, leaderboards and post-event results.

Viewers will also be able to “fly” through the Olympic world, tour Olympic venues and different areas throughout Korea.

NBC Olympics will also provide content prior to the start of the Games, with behind-the-scenes content captured with Intel True VR technology. VR users will be able to experience a winter sports athlete prepare for the Games; witness the culture, sights and beauty of Korea; and explore the PyeongChang Olympic venues.

Programming will span every day of the Games – with the exception of Feb. 18 – beginning the day of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, and concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25.

NBC Olympics’ first foray into VR was for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Most programming was presented on next-day delay.