Last week, Montreal-based national carrier Bell and TSN debuted a new 5G immersive experience for viewing Montreal Canadiens games.
The new 5G View feature, which is available on iOS and Android on the TSN app, lets fans control how they view different angles of the game on their smartphones. Viewers are able to rewind, re-watch a play and zoom in at any time during a live game.
“You are able to manipulate with your finger by dragging across the screen, go around the stadium and follow the play as it happens,” said Nauby Jacob, the senior vice-president of product platforms at Bell Media, in an interview with MobileSyrup.
Jacob stated that more than 80 time-slice cameras have been installed around the bowl of the arena at the Bell Centre in Montreal to make 5G View possible.
“It’s worth noting that viewers need a TSN Direct subscription to access 5G View if they don’t have TSN included in their TV subscription”
“As you drag your finger on the screen, it moves from camera to camera seamlessly. So you can actually see the play all the way across the stadium by quickly moving across. And then when you find a great play, you can actually rewind up to about four minutes,” Jacob stated.
To access the immersive experience, viewers must be in an area where Bell has launched its 5G network, have a 5G-capable smartphone and also access to TSN’s mobile app.
Jacob noted that 5G View requires very low latency, which is possible through 5G networks. He outlined that low latency is required for the immediate transition that follows when viewers give a command on their screen with their finger and the cameras in the arena react to it.
The carrier says that without a 5G connection, the viewing experience will appear jittery and jumpy as the video feed moves from camera to camera. Jacob explained that Bell tested 5G View on 4G but found that the experience was subpar.
Further, Jacob noted that viewers could access the experience via Wi-Fi, but only if they have a strong, high-quality connection measuring in at a minimum of 50Mbps.
Viewers can access 5G view on the TSN app if they have TSN/RDS included with their TV subscription. If not, they’ll need a TSN Direct subscription to access 5G View, which costs $19.99 per month. You can also get a six-month subscription for $99.95 or a day pass for $7.99.
Jacob outlined that when Bell started developing the immersive experience, the pandemic didn’t play a big factor in the process. However, it became a high priority for the carrier once the pandemic hit and the sports viewing experience was affected as fans could no longer enter stadiums.
“5G View is currently only offered for Montreal Canadiens games”
He noted that although 5G View has become a priority amid the pandemic, the experience is still relevant outside of that context.
“Even when the stadiums are open, there’s a very large percentage of people who are not in the stadium. We wanted to give the customers an in-stadium experience. And, and in some ways, this is even better than the in-stadium experience,” he stated.
Jacob outlined that when you’re in a stadium, you’re in one spot and you can’t see the play from all angles, especially in a fast-moving game. “The players are so quick on the ice, and particularly talking about a team like Canadiens, you really want to get that experience that you wouldn’t even get in a stadium,” Jacob stated.
Bell notes that 5G View also comes with on-demand highlights and that users can experience the same immersive capabilities as the live interactive view with highlights after the game.
5G View is currently only offered for Montreal Canadiens games. Bell says that 5G View will expand to more sports events, teams and venues in the future.
Bell launched its 5G network in June 2020 in the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. It has since expanded the service to over 150 markets and communities across the country. The carrier currently has 5G coverage in select parts of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia. Major markets include Winnipeg, Fort Saskatchewan and Burnaby.
Overtime, 5G is expected to bring ultra-low latency, higher performance and more reliability. The next generation of wireless technology will power more immersive experiences like this one, while also bringing advancements in several industries.
It’s worth noting that these advancements are still considered to be far off in Canada, as the government’s critical 3.5Ghz spectrum auction was delayed to June 2021 due to COVID-19.