When it comes to technology in TV, sports often leads the way. It quickly embraced HD when it rolled out and dipped an
early toe in VR. A CES panel Thursday zeroed in on a few key areas—data gathering, immersive experience and, yes,
5G—where sports is headed. “As far as the consumer experience goes, there has got to be a connection between the
physical world that’s there at the game and the digital world that they carry in their pocket. I think those two bridges are
starting to happen,” said Doug Lodder, Boingo Wireless’ svp, business development. “You ask what I’m most excited
about, it’s… the continued evolution of 5G networks, the continued availability of CBRS spectrum, the launching of the
2.5 GHz band… all that comes together to create really fast, low latency networks.”

The panel all agreed that sports betting has huge potential. Lodder predicted micro-betting—odds placed on small events during play—will be huge, which drives home the importance of that really low latency. “When you’re making a bet, you know that the bet was made prior to the event happening” with low latency, he said. Fans are “screaming” for more info on athletes as well.

“We’re seeing on the data side a lot of biometric, wearable technology that is increasing,” said Andrea Berry, svp, gm of broadcast and TV for Production Resource Group. “You’re getting all these biometrics that tell why an athlete was successful in that match or that game. Fans really want to know why. How much is his punch, how fast is his punch, the speed of the kick. As we continue to collaborate with production and creative people on the technology side, they’re going to come up with more stories that push the envelope for the technical people to gain the type of data they want.”

But what about VR? Moderator Mike Davis of Fox Sports quipped that four years ago, CES would have had three panels on VR. Is it still a thing? “We’ve always had the longest view in the room of VR,” said Danny Keens, head of content for NextVR, which has had virtual reality partnership with Fox Sports, Turner Sports, WWE and NBA Digital. “We always understand that the key to success was device factors, screen resolution and, of course, great content.”

Going into 2020, things are looking strong for VR, he said. “To date, one of the Achilles’ heels of immersive media, certainly VR, has been screen resolution. The promise is a courtside NBA game, but ultimately, that’s not what you experience. It feels like you’re staring at a phone screen… That’s now changing,” Keen said. “You’re start to now really get that sense of presence.”

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