5G remote production sets a new standard for live sports broadcasts

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When the global COVID-19 health crisis hit, the streaming industry quickly adapted. Remote live production has increased, especially for sporting events. A recent industry report found that when covering live events, broadcasters are increasingly turning to remote production, with 39% of respondents already using remote production or template workflows. remote integration (REMI). Almost half of respondents (46%) indicated that REMI / home technology is one of the most important trends for their organization going forward.

Today, the majority of live sporting events are produced remotely to some extent. This trend is expected to continue in the future. Remote live production not only increases operational efficiency and cost savings for broadcasters, but also enables them to unlock production quality and invest and produce more content.

Examining the Benefits and Challenges of Remote Live Sports Production
One of the main reasons broadcasters are implementing remote production workflows for live sports is that it dramatically simplifies the production workflow compared to an on-site studio or outdoor broadcast truck. Beyond reducing the number of people needed on site and reducing costs, it also enables more content to be produced for Level 2 and Level 3 sports and improves the live production of Level 1 sports in using more cameras on the site.

In fact, more and more cameras are now based on IP technology, in particular PoV and PTZ or even on-board cameras connected to 5G transmitters. Thanks to these new production configurations, the broadcasters can offer better sports coverage. These camera setups are easy to control from a distance and give viewers an immersive view of the venue, covering all angles of the pitch. For example, small cameras and transmitters are frequently used in tight spaces, such as the interior of a racing car or racing boat, allowing viewers to get closer to the action.

Of course, remote production presents challenges, such as ensuring good connectivity.

About 99% of remote productions are based on IP technology. If the network is not stable, remote control will be impossible. By using reliable transmission technology, broadcasters can ensure a strong connection between the field and the studio.

Additionally, latency can be an issue during remote live production. Broadcasters need a solution that will provide the lowest possible transmission latency between the venue and the studio. If there is significant latency, it will be difficult for broadcasters to manage the change of camera and may impact the quality of the experience for viewers.

The predicted impact of 5G on remote live sports production
5G technology has been a game-changer for remote production, offering even more capacity and better coverage than 4G. So far, feedback from broadcasters, production companies and TV stations using 5G technology has been overwhelmingly positive. During the Summer Games, 5G technology was used successfully for the live video production of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as for the coverage of several Olympic events.

However, 5G is currently in the initial stages, with the first 5G autonomous network deployments expected in early 2022. The second phase of 5G will be revolutionary, offering broadcasters a quality of service with a reserved bandwidth and allowing them to ensure exceptional quality of service. for live sporting events.

This upgraded version of 5G will be available at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar as well as the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing. The improved 5G standalone technology will also help reduce transmission latency and change the way broadcasters use 5G technology for their production. The new quality of service and the improvement of 5G coverage will improve the responsiveness of remote productions.

As 5G standalone technology will deliver increased services in addition to higher bandwidth, we anticipate a significant increase in 5G-based live productions in 2022 and beyond.

Broadcasters embrace live remote production in the real world
During the COVID-19 crisis, the broadcast community widely adopted the concept of remote production for live events. The PGA Tour is one such success story.

One of the production goals of the PGA Tour was to limit the number of people on the golf course. PGA Tour has produced several golf tournaments, including one at the Seminole Golf Club near West Palm Beach, Florida, in REMI style with handheld cameras, a drone camera, and a camera in a plane flying over the golf course. Each camera used a specialized linked cellular transmitter to transmit the course signals to a production facility hundreds of miles away.

Advances are also happening in the real world with 5G remote production. Last year Greece saw its first live TV broadcasts via 5G. In the Greek Cup final, broadcaster Cosmote TV successfully controlled two robotic cameras from a remote studio and transmitted high quality audio and video via 5G.

The robotic cameras used ultra-compact 5G HEVC transmitters in combination with a high-performance transceiver to transmit HD images and audio from the stadium in perfect sync and without any delay.

Thanks to the low latency allowed by the 5G network, Cosmote TV was able to control the robotic cameras in real time. The innovation displayed by Cosmote TV is a preview of what’s to come in the future as broadcasters shift from using traditional infrastructure to 5G networks for remote live production.

Conclusion
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated remote production workflows for live sporting events. Since the start of the pandemic, more and more broadcasters have adopted remote production for live sports. As part of a remote production workflow, broadcasters can make more use of PoV cameras and can directly integrate cameras into tight spaces to provide a single, close-up view of what’s going on.

As 5G deployments heat up, it will be interesting to see how remote production evolves more for live sports.


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