- The National Football League and Verizon formed an "innovation partnership" to focus on improving the fan experience with high-speed 5G mobile technology. As part of the two-year deal, the organizations will work on in-stadium mobile features for fans who attend live games, Verizon announced.
- The NFL and Verizon are reaching out to game developers to create league-themed mobile games that work with 5G, which Verizon is gradually introducing to more cities this year. The games are meant to showcase 5G network speeds that offer higher-quality gaming experiences to mobile users.
- Another key part of the agreement will be the development of volumetric video, an emerging media format that works on 5G networks. The NFL also named Verizon as the "Official 5G Innovation Partner of the NFL." In 2017, the NFL and Verizon extended a separate sponsorship deal another five years, Sports Business Daily reported.
The mobile innovation-focused partnership between the NFL and Verizon adds another dimension to the collaboration between the organizations as Verizon vies with rivals AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to publicize the pending nationwide rollout of 5G networks.
The high-speed mobile technology has been hyped up in recent months, which may set up consumers for initial disappointment. However, in the longer term, 5G technology is set to underpin a wider variety of services that will change the way brands interact with mobile customers. 5G not only will help to support the growth of driverless cars and drone fleets that deliver goods to consumers, but its high speeds will serve high-definition video and games more quickly and help brands more deeply engage with mobile audiences.
For sports fans, 5G connectivity is expected to support in-stadium services like digital payments, food ordering and augmented reality (AR) features, such as step-by-step navigation to seating or instant statistics that mobile users can view by holding up their smartphones to the field. The expanded use of mobile technology may help the NFL appeal to the next generation of tech-savvy fans who have many more entertainment options than older generations did, including streaming video, video games, esports and social media. Brands like Coca-Cola have worked to add to the in-stadium experience of fans with mobile activations of AR, virtual reality and facial recognition.
As Verizon works with the NFL, AT&T also has undertaken efforts to cultivate more uses for its 5G platform. AT&T last month said Cisco, Ericsson, Infosys, Intel, Magic Leap, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and WarnerMedia are among the companies that are participating in an incubator for 5G. The AT&T 5G Innovation Program looks to bring app developers, content creators, device makers and network vendors together.