We’ve been taking a close look recently at specific environments and applications that are now calling for fiber – and why. Last month, we unveiled three factors propelling stadium technology. This month, we’re talking broadcasting technology.

As people become more connected to devices, the entertainment industry is changing to accommodate their expectations and provide unforgettable experiences. The advancements taking place in broadcasting give viewers new, immersive experiences. They’re also placing huge demands on wired infrastructure because of the numbers of people and data connecting to networks.

Similar to stadium technology, bandwidth demands for broadcasting will continue to increase, calling for new cabling capabilities and infrastructure.

 As a result, broadcasting is another application that’s beginning to rely on fiber for dependable, always-on wired and wireless connectivity. Why? Because of fiber’s ability to provide fast download and upload speeds, maintain signal strength over long distances and ensure less wait time/fewer delays.

We summarized five broadcasting technology trends that will require the use of more fiber in the next decade. Read about them here!

1. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality has actually been used in sports for quite a few years already. (One good example: The virtual 1st and Ten lines, graphical analysis and player information you see on the screen during NFL games.) But augmented reality can be taken far beyond these basics.

MLB has utilized it to let fans “follow” players around bases or across the field by holding personal devices toward the field from their seats. Device users can see the selected player’s picture, real-time data and even video footage of famous plays. This technology gives fans the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with stats and data. A few NHL teams have implemented augmented reality to let fans search for videos and data about their favorite players.

Augmented reality also offers a way for people outside the stadium to engage with and get an inside look at what’s happening inside. For example: Broadcast announcers can use augmented reality to analyze alternative play options while overlaying augmented reality data on video replays to demonstrate what a different play may have looked like. In some cases, fans at home have even been able to view games from a virtual stadium suite.

Fiber is being implemented to support the broadcast and sharing of this immersive technology without delays or hiccups.

2. More (and Better) Cameras

The broadcasting technology being used for cameras is becoming quicker, clearer and more seamless. In any broadcasting environment, the goal is to bring viewers close to the action. For sports, this means making every throw, kick, punt or shot seem as real as possible. 

Changes in broadcasting technology also include bringing in more cameras to capture different angles, never-before-seen views and the augmented reality experiences mentioned above. If you’ve watched an NFL broadcast lately, for example, you’ve likely noticed the 360-degree shots that display plays from every angle. To make this happen, four fiber drops are required for each camera location. When you add up those numbers, you can see how quickly fiber connections are growing in the world of broadcasting. The PGA European Tour also uses 360-degree live video to put viewers at the heart of every swing.

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3. Changing Forms of Content

In addition to the shift from high-definition content to 4K, in-venue entertainment continues to evolve: Through networks of video displays, large scoreboards, indoor and outdoor digital signage and remote cameras – highly talented in-venue production teams are creating and distributing original content to engage their fans. Beyond production control rooms to deliver the content in and around the stadium, modern venues have the ability to act as their own master control hubs as well.  Production entertainment teams now have the opportunity to distribute these unique stories far and wide, including to broadcast partners and digital outlets. The increasing demand to share this original content anywhere and everywhere means higher bandwidth requirements and the need for fiber.

4. IP Migration

IP is emerging as an efficient way to transport video; it supports more video feeds, camera types and camera angles. For this reason, broadcast control rooms are starting to look more like data centers, featuring rows of cabinets that house IP-connected servers instead of traditional master control operations and task-specific hardware.

IP also supports remote production to reduce the crew and equipment resources needed onsite. When cameras can be plugged into a stadium’s network, the video feed can be carried via IP to the production hub instead of everyone and everything needing to be on location.

5.Over the Top Streaming

Over the past decade, shifting viewing habits are putting on-the-go, customized interactivity at the forefront. According to Broadband World News, U.S. OTT (over the top) streaming video is expected to account for approximately 82% of all network traffic this year.

OTT lets fans watch events from anywhere, making it free and easy to watch without access to a TV. Streaming platforms already include Facebook Watch, ESPN+, NFL Game Pass and Bleacher Report.

In order for OTT to work, however, a reliable, high-speed, low-latency fiber connection that can handle massive amounts of data is necessary.

In a future blog, we’ll discuss the technology driving increased fiber connections in data centers – as well as the challenges of managing these fiber connections. Subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!

P.S. We announced a new Belden solution – the DCX Optical Distribution Frame – to help you easily manage increasing numbers of fiber connections in environments just like these with scalability and impressive ROI. Learn more about it here!

Successfully integrate technology into the fan experience. Visit our Stadiums & Venues page to learn more.