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Wearable mobile tech = revenue diversification opportunities for media

By Mark Challinor

Media Futures Consultancy

London, United Kingdom

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As I look across the global media landscape, I see many news companies pursuing new revenue opportunities. This is because, for example, advertising monies have dwindled in COVID-19 times.

I have seen all manner of new ideas being pursued — from offering readers education and training to streaming and utility bill services. These all have one thing in common: They don’t involve investment on the media companies’ part. They are all services that already exist and joint ventures or partnerships allowing service providers to reach new audiences while the media gain new revenue share opportunities.

New mobile technology could enhance the in-person and at-home event experiences.
New mobile technology could enhance the in-person and at-home event experiences.

Upcoming new mobile technology might provide a further opportunity to exploit new revenues: a technology using new 5G mobile experiences alongside volumetric video streaming.

In your home or in a sports stadium, new immersive customer experiences are about to transform live events, especially sports and concerts. Imagine being able to stand a few metres away from two heavyweight boxers in the middle of a world title bout? Or perhaps on the edge of the tarmac as Formula 1 racing cars shoot past you in a Grand Prix?

Or, imagine meeting friends for a soccer match or maybe a big, sold-out rock music concert — at the stadium in the crowd or from any seat in the grandstand, all from the comfort of your home.

This is volumetric video, a new technology similar to holography but with the ability to livestream a real event with unlimited processing power with no delay (“latency”). It will enable broadcasters to create 3D events on your coffee table or the floor of your home.

Lightweight and easy-to-use, wearable technology (the next iteration of Google Glass, perhaps?) will enable viewers to experience the atmosphere of a live event and see all the action from all angles, without leaving the house.

How does volumetric video work?

Volumetric video records events in 3D, viewable on a mobile device. The “volumetrically captured” object (e.g. a fighter in a boxing ring) is processed in “the cloud” so it can be (seamlessly) streamed to a device or application almost instantly. It arrives on your device in real time and in complete broadcast quality clarity without any buffering or delay.

This allows people to experience the action with their own eyes, as if it was happening right in front of them.

Changing the experience — at home and in the stadium

And how can broadcasters create the experience of watching sports and music for fans attending the event in person, too? People attending events have always looked for ways to improve the live experience with technology. I remember when I was a young boy going to watch my beloved Liverpool soccer team with a pocket radio and headphones, so I could listen to the live radio commentary as I watched the game. Today, fans use apps for replays and check social platforms for reactions as the game unfolds in front of them.

Sports broadcasters are now able to collate massive amounts of data about a sporting event from within a venue as it unfolds. Then, they relay that data to viewers at home. It is a tried-and-tested formula for improving the viewers’ experience.

At present, fans in a stadium miss out on all that data and experience, whether it’s live commentary, instant replays, statistics and analysis, or expert pundits’ perspectives. With a combination of new capabilities in advanced, mobile devices and, in a fast-moving future with new wearable technology, sports fans at an event will soon be able to access all the details that viewers at home have access to. Of course, all of this will happen while still enjoying the atmosphere of actually “being there.”

There are huge advancements now in wearable technology. As I mentioned earlier, a pseudo, next-stage “Google Glass” style enhanced glasses would appear to be a normal set of glasses but would actually be capable of supplying someone in the stadium with all the data and commentary provided to home viewers. Augmented Reality glasses are becoming lighter, easier to use, and much more stylish like “normal” glasses, making them more accessible to an in-stadium sports or music fan.

Wearable technology like this could easily provide fans in a stadium with everything a broadcaster’s live feed provides. This would pair a live sporting event with an editorially driven, broadcast-quality experience.

I am a season ticket holder at Liverpool and have had the same seat for several seasons at Liverpool’s “Anfield” stadium in the city. If I want to see a goal from the other side of the stadium (such as from my friend’s seat), this technology would enable that.

Likewise, if someone new to the stadium wanted to locate the nearest exit, restroom, or burger bar, an augmented mobile device would assist with this. Or, if I want to learn all the statistics on my favourite Liverpool soccer player while he plays in front of me, all that information can be ready and waiting for me at any time.

All this is coming. I know streaming services in the United Kingdom are in the process of making this happen. When 5G becomes mainstream (within the next coulple years here), it will open up these new possibilities.

Which brings us back to my original point. With the current emphasis on new media revenue and new opportunities that require no technology investment on behalf of the media company, maybe this is something to consider.

To your readers, this would be very new and cool. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for you to speak with the service providers and broadcasters in your country. Find out what they are doing. Look at partnership opportunities now. If you don’t, someone else will, and it’s likely it will be your competitor.

Be part of creating new experiences for your audiences, and make another new revenue stream for your portfolio.

About Mark Challinor

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