Live entertainment is evolving fast, as greater connectivity and digitisation allows for new experiences for both the audience at the venue and the people watching online. How can telcos play a more valuable role?
Enhancing live entertainment
Live entertainment spans everything from a handful of people enjoying stand-up comedy in a pub to a football match attended by 100,000 fans. Although there are many different forms and formats of live entertainment, they share three inter-related characteristics – immediacy, interactivity and immersion. The performers make things happen and people tend to react, by clapping, shouting, singing or gesticulating at the performers or by interacting with each other. A compelling event will also be immersive in the sense that the spectators will focus entirely on the action.
For telcos, live events present specific challenges and opportunities. Simultaneously providing millions of people with high quality images and audio from live events can soak up large amounts of bandwidth on networks, forcing telcos to invest in additional capacity. Yet, it should be feasible to make a return on that investment: live events are an enormously popular form of entertainment on which people around the world are prepared to spend vast sums of money. This is a market where demand often outstrips supply: tickets for top tier sports events or music concerts can cost US$150 or more.
With the advent of 5G and Wi-Fi 6E, telcos have an opportunity to improve spectators’ enjoyment of live events both within a venue and in remote locations. Indeed, telcos could play a key role in enabling many more people to both participate in and appreciate live entertainment, thereby helping them to enjoy more fulfilling and enriching lives.
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The opportunities to use new technologies to enhance live events
Source: STL Partners
More broadly, telecoms networks and related services have become fundamental to the smooth running of our increasingly digital economy. Our landmark report The Coordination Age: A third age of telecoms explained how reliable and ubiquitous connectivity can enable companies and consumers to use digital technologies to efficiently allocate and source assets and resources. In the case of live entertainment, telcos can help people to make better use of their leisure time – a precious and very finite resource for most individuals.
This report begins by providing an overview of the live entertainment opportunity for telcos, outlining the services they could provide to support both professional and amateur events. It then considers the growing demand for high-definition, 360-degree coverage of live events, before discussing why it is increasingly important to deliver footage in real-time, rather than near real-time. Subsequent sections explore the expanding role of edge computing in facilitating live broadcasts and how augmented reality and virtual reality could be used to create more immersive and interactive experiences.
This report draws on the experiences and actions of AT&T, BT, NTT and Verizon, which are all very active in the coverage of live sports. It also builds on previous STL Partners research including:
- Edge computing market sizing forecast
- Apple Glass: An iPhone moment for 5G?
- AR/VR: Won’t move the 5Gneedle
- Telco 2030: New purpose, strategy and business models for the Coordination Age
- Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix: Whose digital content is king?
- Executive Summary
- Opportunities to enhance live entertainment
- Amateur entertainment – a B2C play
- Delivering high-definition/360-degree video
- New broadcast technologies
- Real-time encoding and compression
- Traffic management and net neutrality
- Real real-time coverage and stats
- More data and more stats
- Personalised advertising and offers
- Edge computing and the in-event experience
- Refereeing automation/support
- In-venue security and safety
- Wi-Fi versus 5G
- Augmented reality – blurring the lines
- Tech can enrich people’s experience of live events
- The role of telcos