Sports decision makers looking to help improve fan experience and drive efficiencies inside the stadium have a reason to cheer. According to research conducted by Ovum, network operators in India now plan to deliver new 5G enterprise services to major live sports and esports event organizers.
Operators view sports events such as IPL, the professional Indian cricket league, as an opportunity to create new enterprise services grounded in 5G communications. For example, all (100%) Indian operators taking part in the study plan on offering IoT-related technology and services to tournament organizers in order to create efficiencies in stadium management. Three quarters (75%) plan to offer services that will improve the fan experience inside the sporting arena. This will include the ability to order food and beverages via mobile devices.
According to the research, Indian operators anticipate clear overall commercial benefits from supporting major sports events with 5G. Three quarter (75%) believe that 5G will drive subscriber acquisition and another quarter (25%) say it will boost average revenue per user (ARPU). Indian operators are also optimistic about the impact of 5G on sports-related business lines, particularly media businesses. Half (50%) believe 5G will drive mainstream adoption of virtual reality services and popularity of esports.
The research surveyed C-level and other senior decision makers from 60 of the world’s 100 largest operators, including operators in India.
Partnerships offer a road into the sporting arena
To capitalize on their 5G investments, Indian operators will be relying on industry partnerships as they play a bigger role in sports and esports events. Three quarters (75%) of Indian operators taking part in the study plan on creating new partnerships with broadcasters and OTT service providers in their search to transform the delivery of sports coverage to consumers. Virtual reality will also play a part in this new experience, with all (100%) operators taking part in the study looking to partner with virtual reality app providers.
100% of Indian operators taking part in the study intend to create partnerships with sports venues 75% of Indian operators plan to create partnerships with device manufacturers 75% of Indian operators seek partnerships with augmented reality app providers 75% of Indian operators want partnerships with video game companies
“Operators see both short-term benefits in supporting sports with 5G, including growth in subscriber acquisition and ARPU, as well as longer-term benefits, such as enhanced brand appeal among younger demographics,” said Gary Miles, chief marketing officer, Amdocs. “Furthermore, working with new types of partners on 5G and sports will give operators a vital role in a new digital business ecosystem. Out of a multitude of potential 5G use cases, our research shows that sports and esports is certainly among the most compelling.”
Network design and challenges
When Indian operators were asked about anticipated network-related challenges regarding new 5G services for sports and esports, the main concern cited by three quarters (75%) of the respondents centered on delivering the required levels of capacity and connectivity to support live HD video. Indoor coverage at stadiums was also seen as a major challenge by 75% of the operators. In terms of IT-related challenges, availability of business and operational support systems (BSS/OSS) to support new business models and partners and their scalability, as well as network slicing management, were regarded as key challenges by 50% of the operators.
To help address some of these challenges, 75% of Indian operators see small cells as the most important aspect of network design needed to deliver new 5G services and the first they plan to deploy. Small cells can provide more capacity, increased flexibility and an enhanced user experience. On the IT front, all (100%) Indian operators taking part in the study see multi-domain orchestrators and data and revenue management systems, which can help with the monetization and management of 5G services, as the most critical to have.
“Given the massive investments that operators are pumping into 5G, their ability to monetize 5G to the fullest will be critical,” said Julian Bright, senior analyst at Ovum’s Intelligent Networks team. “To succeed in that, they need to keep sight of the commercial drivers and priorities when designing, planning and deploying their new networks and services. They also need to ensure their IT environment can support the new architectures, standards and business models. According to our research, extensive systems upgrade and replacement, as well as reskilling of staff, will most likely be required to manage this exciting, yet complex transition.”