NBA To Produce World’s First 5G Smartphone Broadcast at Summer League

The broadcast will be carried on the ESPN App, International NBA League Pass, and NBA TV Canada

In a historic first, tonight’s Atlanta Hawks-Washington Wizards NBA Summer League game will become the first live major sports production ever shot exclusively on smartphones using 5G technology.

Smartphone View will tap six Samsungs and a 5G wireless network provided by AT&T.

“After a successful dress rehearsal early last night, we are a full go for the Smartphone View alternate broadcast tonight,” says Steve Hellmuth, EVP, media operations and technology, NBA Entertainment. “We believe this will be the first live major sports production ever shot exclusively on smartphones to be distributed widely to fans.”

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AT&T will provide the 5G mmWave spectrum, with Ericsson as the network infrastructure supplier, to allow the NBA to stream live video from Samsung devices. Video will be streaming live, using the LiveU Smart mobile app, from devices in the stands directly to the NBA production truck. From the truck, AT&T Global Video Services will transfer the footage to ESPN’s network broadcast offices.

LiveU’s Smart mobile app will be one of the many vendors involved in the broadcast.

The broadcast will feature interactions with fans in attendance, interviews, views from courtside, a customized graphics package, and other in-arena elements. Noah Eagle, Allie Clifton, and Alexis Morgan will lead the way as talent and will be carried on the ESPN App, International NBA League Pass, and NBA TV Canada.

“The plan is to deliver fans a unique broadcast experience using the same cameras they use every day to capture special moments in their lives,” adds Hellmuth.

5G is still in its development stages in the U.S., and broadcasters are clamoring to get their hands on it. The NBA becomes the latest sports entity to experiment with 5G technology.

AT&T’s Dave MacDonald and the NBA’s Steve Hellmuth inside of the control room.

Last summer, Fox Sports and the Fox Innovation Lab partnered with Ericsson, Intel, and AT&T to stream 4K HDR video over 5G at the U.S. Open from Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The 5G wireless technology transmitted 4K HDR video from two Fox Sports cameras positioned on the par-3 seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills through the Fox Sports production truck and onto viewers through DirecTV.

The first sports-centric coming-out party for 5G technology took place in February when Intel and partners deployed it on a broad scale for the first time at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Stay tuned to sportsvideo.org for more coverage of 5G at the NBA Summer League.