What 5G Means for Distributors
The elusive 5G technology is highly anticipated, and it’s repeatedly said that it will change the way we live and work—most tangibly in distribution as people consume more content in the palm of their hands.
“We know that people are watching more content than ever before … in fact, the more devices they use, the more they’re watching,” says Tom Gorke, EVP and head of distribution and development for Viacom, who will appear at Mobile World Congress on Oct. 23. “And these devices are only getting more powerful. With 5G on the horizon, the mobile experience will become supercharged.”
The introduction of 4G technology allowed the world to stream video on-the-go and provided an entry point into AR and VR. With 5G, a faster technology with extra bandwidth, the world has the potential to be even more immersive: Your Uber will talk to your elevator, a holograph of SpongeBob will play with your kids, your car will call Alexa to make dinner. The possibilities are endless and unknown. While Star Trek is coming to life in your city, marketers and distributors are already looking into how the technology could be tangible to the consumer through mobile content and video.
“5G is the fourth industrial revolution,” quipped Aimee O’Rourke, director of strategy at Momentum on-stage during Advertising Week earlier this year. O’Rourke, whose agency is working to activate Verizon’s 5G technology, said that right now we’re connected to each other through our phones, but 5G will connect people to the environment and the world that surrounds them.
According to Gorke, Viacom is already at the forefront of capitalizing on 5G technology. Viacom signed a deal with an automotive infotainment platform, the Twine4Car system powered by Access in Germany, which points towards a new era of in-car entertainment to test short and long-form viewing in connected cars.
Early Indications of the 5G Future
Distributors like Verizon and T-Mobile already recognize the importance of mobile in their offerings, and SVOD offerings like Netflix have optimized for mobile knowing that a significant amount of its consumer base comes from mobile devices. With the rise of mobile consumption, 5G will ultimately allow mobile to become a more robust entertainment medium. “5G creates real competition between the hardwired, cable-modem-based internet networks that feed most consumers’ home wifi setups and go-anywhere mobile-based networks,” according to Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.
One example of 5G in the real world is Verizon’s partnership with the NFL, where they are testing its use in stadiums to give fans a live viewing experience that provides pop-up information and historical data on games and players all from a stadium seat. Something like this, done through volumetric capture, could be shared across multiple verticals and platforms where people already are.
Mark Boyd, co-founder of Gravity Road, a holographic tech brand, said that this technology could revolutionize the sports industry. He alluded to unfinished technology that would feature an augmented map that takes you to your seat, or 360 Canon technology that allows you to follow your favorite player. This holographic pop-up seen with glasses or a small screen could feature statistics and a view from the player’s perspective.
Boyd even suggested that having 5G at a team or brand’s disposal could sell out a separate stadium where the game wasn’t even taking place, or sell out a concert where there’s no performer. Just fans coming together to enjoy a virtual experience.
“We can’t anticipate fully all the exciting things that are going to be possible,” Boyd explained during Advertising Week.
And while that’s true overall, for distributors specifically, the possibilities are particularly industry-changing. Faster streaming alone will change how entertainment companies produce content. It will also allow distributors to work with more partners to innovate on different platforms, whether that’s remotely watching holographic Lizzo perform in the comfort of your living room, or live-streaming Trevor Noah reacting to the news in your self-driving car.