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O2 reveals how 5G will transform live experiences – with £2.3bn boost to entertainment sector by 2030 

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New research from O2 has revealed the transformative impact 5G connectivity could have on the UK’s live entertainment industry. The mobile operator, which has a rich heritage in live music and entertainment, predicts that 5G could boost the sector by as much as £2.3 billion over the next 10 years, rejuvenating live experiences before, during and after events.

The findings are part of 5th Generation Entertainment, a new piece of research conducted by O2 and Ovum, the data and insights consultancy. It explores how 5G could boost entertainment businesses by improving customer experiences with technology such as VR and AR – both of which will benefit from faster connectivity.

Within 5th Generation Entertainment, O2 has predicted how 5G-enabled innovations will transform in-venue experiences. It forecasts a revolutionised pre-event experience thanks to smart ticketing and connected venues, offering fans the chance to seamlessly access and enjoy activities ahead of the show. Innovations such as AR-assisted shopping will mean shorter queues when purchasing merchandise by allowing fans to try on their most-wanted pieces and accessories virtually, before collecting at a nearby stand.

Queuing for drinks at the bar could too become a thing of the past, thanks to the reduction of latency which enables order-in-advance systems, real-time analytics of the busiest bars, and apps using wayfinding to get spectators around venues, as well as meeting up with friends easily. A 5G network will provide greater speeds and more capacity to ensure fans have strong signal to fully use all these tools, as well as share their experiences live across their social platforms.

Immediately after the show, fans will be able to get their very own personalised highlights reel sent directly to their device as event organisers harness the connectivity of multiple camera angles and the superfast network to create quick videos for fans to enjoy on the way home.

Fans not able to attend in person will be able to pay to live stream gigs no matter where they are – and will have the ability to personalise their experience. Fans not able to attend in person will be able to pay to live stream gigs no matter where they are – and will have the ability to personalise their experience. Choosing from multiple camera angles or opting to focus on specific elements of a performance or match, such as a particular member of a band or sports team, will not only boost the entertainment experience – they serve to generate revenue by enabling brands to target advertising during live events. O2 has continued its relationship with music pioneer MelodyVR to further explore the possibilities of 5G and targeted customer journeys in this space.

The future of broadcasting

But that’s not all – through O2’s partnership with ITV, the mobile operator is exploring the future of broadcasting through seamlessly connected HD cameras, sharing more content over superfast and higher capacity networks, increasing flexibility via wireless tech. To highlight this ground-breaking technology, O2 worked with ITN Productions to produce the world’s first live TV advert powered by 5G – which collated footage of fans during England’s win over Argentina last year, uniting spectators across the country in real time.

By 2028, O2 predicts that 78 per cent of live entertainment consumer spend will be driven by 5G-enabled sports experiences. This summer’s Olympic Games is expected to accelerate this growth, with sponsors likely to market their 5G tech capabilities throughout the event.

Gareth Griffiths, Head of Sponsorship at O2, explains: “Through our sponsorships with England Rugby, The O2 – the world’s most successful music venue and 20 iconic O2 Academy venues, we aim to engage fans with relevant, useful and exciting experiences before, during and after a live event. The low-latency and superfast connectivity of 5G, underpinned by fan insights, bold branding and customer benefits, enables us to tailor these experiences to the diverse audiences we see at our venues in real-time. Whether for an England Rugby fan at Twickenham, a Kano fan at O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester or an Elton John fan at The O2, 5G will revolutionise live entertainment.”

David Jones, Senior-Vice President of IT at AEG – owners of The O2 – adds: “I’m excited by the possibilities that 5G offers to enhance the live entertainment experience for the millions of fans who come to see their favourite acts and athletes at The O2 each year. In particular, augmented reality and virtual reality technology is bandwidth-intensive, ultra-mobile, and very sensitive to latency, and 5G has been designed to address those requirements from the ground up. The O2 is at the forefront of O2’s 5G rollout in the UK, and I’m eager to see how the creative people who produce the hundreds of events each year at The O2 will embrace 5G and the technologies it enables, and use it to deliver fun and engaging experiences for fans.”

O2 has recently made Priority Tickets for The O2 and all 20 O2 Academy venues fully digital, making the end-to-end fan journey – from buying tickets to accessing the venue – more personalised and convenient. In addition, digital tickets are more secure, can be accessed directly on fans’ mobile phones and can easily be transferred to friends with the click of a button.

O2 launched its 5G network in October 2019 and today customers in 21 locations can benefit from the new network.

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