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NBA delivers world-first 5G smartphone live game broadcast

ESPN and NBA League Pass test alternative stream during Hawks-Wizards Summer League match-up.

by Steven Impey

NBA delivers world-first 5G smartphone live game broadcast

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has used its annual Summer League to test a world-first alternative broadcast provided entirely by smartphone cameras using 5G mobile technology.

The Washington Wizards’ 76-71 11th July victory over Atlanta Hawks at the Thomas and Mack Center saw US telecommunications giant AT&T and Summer League partner provide the infrastructure to enable a live game production shot exclusively using six Samsung handsets.

The production was carried by the ESPN App, NBA TV Canada, and internationally via the NBA League Pass, and was operated via the LiveU Smart mobile app, a bonded transmission technology platform for smartphones. 

Steve Hellmuth, NBA Entertainment executive vice president for media operations and technology, told Sports Video Group: “The plan is to deliver fans a unique broadcast experience using the same cameras they use every day to capture special moments in their lives.”

For the broadcast AT&T provided the 5G millimeter wave spectrum, with Ericsson as the network infrastructure supplier, to allow the NBA to stream live video from Samsung devices in the stands, using the LiveU platform, directly to the production truck. From the truck, AT&T Global Video Services transferred the footage to ESPN’s network broadcast offices for distribution.

AT&T is also showcasing 5G technology during the Las Vegas event with gaming and practical demos at the Thomas and Mack Center.