At last week’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Mav’s owner Mark Cuban explained why the day of wi-fi for fan use in sports venues is further away than most people realize.
At the session titled, The Future of the Game Day Experience: HDTV vs. Live Events, Senior ESPN writer Ric Bucher asked the panel for their thoughts on how long will it be before they could provide wi-fi access to an entire stadium. What came from it was an interesting exchange between Cuban and Jonathan Kraft (President of the New England Patriots).
I hope in the next 5-10 years. Last season we invested $500,000 to give a segment of the fan base a taste of this. In doing so, we created an app for (for smart phones) so fans could sit there and watch game replays from the broadcasted TV feed, four replay angles from a separate production truck, and streaming red zone. We were probably a year or two too early (with this technology). People loved it when it was working but there was a frustration factor when too many people were using it at once. We have to solve that. Once we do, though, I think there will be huge opportunities to further create in-game experiences for fans that they can’t get at home. Things like listening to coach to QB communication on a 15-second delay so you can actually get to hear things that go on that we’d never broadcast on TV. Another idea is to mic up every single player. Imagine opening an app to see the entire roster of Patriots players and choosing one to listen to. That would be a powerful, enhancing game-day experience.
Problem is when you start doing the math. When you have 20,000 people doing 2Mbps and it has to be real throughput. That’s 40GB of sustained throughput – that’s not easy. That would make you one of the top 5 streaming web sites at that point in time. That’s assuming all the video originates from right there in the stadium. You can’t pull it from the outside. So a team will have to become their own TV network. You have to bring all that video in the stadium and then put it out on your own private network – that’s 40GB.
No, that’s why I saidwe got to get there.Eventually it will happen.
It’s going to be a harder than you think because what’s going to happen is the expectations on the devices are going to be greater. You’re going to have more video trying to get onto the device and then with, for example the new iPad 2 and its two video cameras, more video will need to go out. So once you turn on the video devil you’ve opened up a Pandora’s box and so it opens all kinds of problems. Literally, you’d be managing a network that MIT for example would consider too big.
The session also featured Stephen Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Bill Simmons (ESPN).
You can watch the archive from here.