NBC Sports Group Teams With Sony, Verizon on 5G Live-Production Demo at SNF Game

Test showed potential of using 5G-connected cameras for live sports productions

Sony Imaging Products & Solutions, Sony Mobile Communications, and Verizon teamed up with NBC Sports Group on a 5G live-production demo during Sunday Night Football‘s Houston Texans–New England Patriots matchup at NRG Stadium in Houston on Dec. 1. An NBC Sports camera operator captured video of the game on the field using Sony’s PXW-Z450 shoulder camcorder. The video was streamed through Sony’s prototype transmitter box and Xperia 5G mmWave device, via Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, to a production room in the stadium.

The camera operator shoots the game using a 5G-enabled Sony camera.

“It was exciting to see Sony’s 5G product coming to life,” says David Mazza, CTO, NBC Sports Group. “The picture quality is excellent, and we look forward to the day when we can deploy a wireless camera this easily as part of the 5G rollouts around the country.”

The test aimed to prove that 5G-connected cameras can be a reliable option for live sports broadcasts. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband’s low latency and high bandwidth combined with Sony’s mobile device, video, and encoding expertise enabled low-latency, high-quality video to be transmitted in near real time to producers.

Engineers monitor the live broadcast from a production room at the stadium.

The test also showed the potential for production teams to be located anywhere, regardless of where the game takes place. Furthermore, 5G’s essentially instant wireless connectivity means that cameras can be untethered, allowing more-creative camera positions and angles throughout the game and reducing the setup time and costs of camera-system integration.

“We are extremely pleased to have completed a successful 5G collaboration with Verizon,” says Mikio Kita, senior GM, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products and Solutions. “Sony is uniquely positioned to offer an end-to-end solution for professional content creation and mobile-communication technology, and our joint achievement on this proof of concept of live sports production will pave the way for wider 5G applications.”

Sony camera were used to stream video over Verizon’s 5G network.

The proof of concept is the latest exploration of how 5G could potentially transform live sports productions. At the NBA Summer League in July, NBA Entertainment used two AT&T 5G cellular nodes as the backbone for a game production that was shot completely with Samsung Galaxy s10 5G smartphones.

Verizon and Sony say they will continue to pursue even more flexible and effortless live–sports-production workflows and solutions using 5G.

Crew members test camera angles and connection prior to the game.

“Verizon’s 5G network is built to transform industries, and we’re thrilled to demonstrate how it can change the way live sports broadcasts are captured and delivered,” says Nicki Palmer, chief product development officer, Verizon. ”5G’s high bandwidth and low latency can enable high-definition video to be streamed essentially in real time and captured with no wires on the field.”

Stay tuned to sportsvideo.org for continuing coverage of this story.