5G – the game changer for the content market

Patricio Cummins

The race is on for 5G, the next iteration of wireless networking. South Korea is currently in the leading position by offering the world’s first commercial 5G services – users of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G smartphones can now access 5G networks through three of the country’s leading telcos. In addition, KT, a telco offering 5G commercial services, has also rolled out 5G-based UHD live broadcasting service, providing an enterprise 5G network and 5G mobile news gathering equipment to news broadcaster Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS).

If 5G technology delivers on its promises – the ability to deliver wireless gigabit Internet service, massive bandwidth, incomparable low-latency video and five-nines reliability – it will truly be a game changer.

For the content market, 5G is leading the charge for a next-generation viewing experience. With the bandwidth that it offers, video viewing will truly be seamless as there will no longer be a need to switch between networks. It is seen as a potential replacement for home broadband in general as well as digital terrestrial television (DTT), by offering the same speed and reliability. When the technology reaches mass adoption, it is likely to launch a new round of cord-cutting as consumers cut their home broadband and give a helping hand to AR & VR technologies, finally allowing lightweight, eyeglass-style wireless headsets. It has tremendous potential to be the next revolution in broadcasting we’ve all been waiting for.

A new cord-cutting craze

Some estimates say video could make up as much as 90% of all 5G traffic. For OTT services, that means faster and smoother delivery of video, no buffering, higher resolution and a better, more engaging user experience. This is expected to continue driving growth and opportunities for OTT plays as more consumers migrate away from traditional pay TV.

Both subscription and ad-supported services should flourish. In the case of AVOD, 5G mobile delivery will be capable of providing more data and actionable insights for personalised advertising. For SVOD services, 5G promises a better viewing experience and increased accessibility for consumers.

A boon for content processing and delivery

5G brings opportunities for storytellers and aggregators to speed up and simplify their uploading needs. A documentary being shot in the field, a content provider who needs to send content to their licensees, the ability to stream news content from the very spot where it’s happening, sports contribution from the venue… The potential for 5G to make it easier than ever to send large volumes of content from removed locations to HQ, be it for production, preparation or distribution, is certainly enticing.

AR & VR finally becomes mainstream

5G will also be a potential rocket that VR and AR can ride on. The next-generation wireless networks will allow manufacturers to scale back on the size of headsets and eliminate the need to be tethered to a computer. The reason? 5G networks are designed to handle significantly more data than 4G networks and that of most residential Internet services. In addition, live delivery of sporting events has the potential to be better than traditional broadcast or pay-tv delivery, by incorporating more AR elements during games, using high-speed 5G network.

Major driver for sports delivery

Mobile is already grabbing a significant share of major sporting events like the World Cup. Mobile views are also growing tremendously – especially to younger, more at-risk audiences that have moved away from traditional delivery. 5G will open a market for content creators looking to focus on mobile, delivering shorter content designed for smaller screens. Live sports events also often place a lot of stress on networks, especially sporting occasions as seen in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Data consumption during a match was found to be double the data consumed during the “busy hour” for the remainder of the year. 5G answers to the needs of sports viewers by being able to better support such network-heavy events.

With the numerous opportunities that 5G promises, it is likely to bring a new set of challenges for content owners and distributors. To truly cash-in on this next-generation technology, it is important for them to ensure seamless workflow automation and orchestration from the get-go so that they can bring content to consumers at speed, efficiently and effectively.