Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

5G is certainly some really impressive stuff. The connection speeds are faster than what basically any of us are used to, so fast, in fact, that it will be possible to livestream video from a headset with one to one movement.

Saturday’s Kings game delivered an impressive real-time VR view.

Real-time 360 viewing in 5G

It might not seem like much to be able to view a game in VR as it’s happening, but this is a major breakthrough in how data is transmitted and how it we’ll view media in the future. Imagine a player’s-eye view of the play as it happens, with the ability to freely look around the playing field as the play unfolds.

Verizon 5G Powers Kings Game

Verizon is the first in the nation to roll out 5G connection speeds in the home, and this move marks an even more exciting first: broadcasting.

“We continue to deliver first on 5G experiences,” said Brian Mecum, Verizon VP of network engineering. “The Kings are leading the way in using technology to improve fan engagement. The experience we’re demonstrating in the Golden 1 Center provides a glimpse into 5G-powered sports entertainment and builds on the work we did earlier this year to test 360 VR and 5G with professional athletes.”

The View

Kids hanging out in the Kings eSports streamed footage captured from the scorer’s table, a central view courtside. They could wave to fans and stand in awe of players towering over their heads, all from a comfortable leather lounge chair.

The home experience is certainly critical to this new technology.

Mecum envisions a future where VR viewing may guide a fan’s ticket buying decisions. Views of the arena, maybe even the restroom facilities, all help to sell the experience.

Don’t worry, no one’s looking inside the bathrooms. Rather, fans might use this technology to learn the layout of a stadium before attending the next big game, or to scout out the best places to sit based on the kind of view they want.

The Equalizer

VR offers a level of immersion that some fans will never experience. If you’re a basketball fan in the Philippines, for instance, the odds of you seeing a Kings game in your lifetime are low without significant planning. 5G changes that, and turns VR into a social gathering.

“At the Kings game,” says Verizon VP, Brian Mecum, “we were able to give the kids an early peek at how they’ll watch live sports in the future. By setting up a 360-degree camera courtside, we streamed the game live over Verizon’s 5G network in the arena back to the virtual reality goggles being worn by the kids in the esports lounge, letting them feel like they were sitting on the bench. This exciting new VR ability delivered over 5G will help a venue provide more in-person experiences to all that want to participate and will ultimately let people who may have travel or cost limitations participate in the live sports viewing action without physically having to be there.”

Final Thoughts

5G is certainly a portion of the backbone of tomorrow’s infrastructure, offering bandwidth to power the Internet of Things and more immersive viewing experiences. This massive undertaking isn’t a simple matter. But we’re finally seeing the beginnings of the applications for this technology.

Customizable views from anywhere in the arena. That’s the future of sports broadcasting!

Furthermore, live games with customized perspectives also open up a whole new avenue for home viewing. Will VR passes sell based on the angles they offer of the action? Only time will tell.

The Golden Center was also a great place to launch this new technology. It’s one of the most sustainable arenas in the world, and part of a $1 billion investment to revitalize downtown Sacramento. With 5G as the backbone, what new opportunities will VR help to unlock?