BRISTOL, Conn.—ESPN has launched the ESPN Edge Innovation Center, which will collaborate with other leaders in technology to explore how new technologies like 5G, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) and mobile edge computing (MEC) can produce new ways for fans to experience sports.
The ESPN Edge Innovation Center will include key partnerships in the categories of technology, consulting, connectivity and hardware.
As part of the effort, ESPN will be working at the technology team at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED) as well as ESPN Edge Founding Partners Accenture, Microsoft and Verizon.
Accenture, Microsoft and Verizon each bring their unique expertise and technologies to ESPN Edge, while ESPN and DMED will help the partners explore adaptations and development of their emerging technologies to meet the needs of sports media, the companies said.
“The sports media landscape has always been a sandbox for groundbreaking uses of technology and ESPN has a long history of being the pace-setter for creating new sports media experiences,” said Mark L. Walker, senior vice president, content business development and innovation, ESPN. “Combining the remarkable capabilities of our founding partners, Accenture, Microsoft and Verizon with The Walt Disney Company’s technological expertise, ESPN Edge will be at the forefront of exploring new technologies and how we can continue to bring innovative firsts to sports fans everywhere.”
In terms of the ESPN Edge Founding Partners, Accenture and ESPN are forming an innovation lab where both teams will work together to imagine, explore, conceive and prototype future sports entertainment experiences and production capabilities using emerging technologies, the companies said.
ESPN selected Accenture as its Innovation and Founding Consulting Partner for its ability to visualize and create game-changing fan experiences, the companies said.
ESPN and Microsoft are teaming up to explore innovative cloud-based solutions to deliver optimal content and services to customers when they want it, the companies said.
By using Microsoft’s cloud platforms and digital technologies such as automation, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the companies will explore fan engagement with a focus on personalization and accessibility. Microsoft’s productivity tools and low-code/no-code capabilities will also help with greater speed and efficiency.
Through this collaboration Microsoft Azure will also become ESPN Edge’s primary innovation cloud platform, the companies said.
Verizon and ESPN partnership will focus on creating new experiences powered by Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, which is now available in parts of over 70 cities, and mobile edge compute (MEC).
The companies will explore how 5G’s massive bandwidth, low latency and super-fast speeds can enable next generation sports fan experiences that are interactive and immersive, the companies said.
5G and MEC can also transform sports broadcast production by allowing content providers to distribute live streams at low latencies in a more streamlined and cost-effective manner.
ESPN selected Verizon as a leader in 5G innovation that works with startups, academia, major sports leagues, and enterprise teams to move the 5G ecosystem forward and explore how 5G can transform nearly every industry, the companies said.
Verizon operates five 5G Labs in the U.S. and one in London that specialize in developing use cases across industries to co-create 5G concepts.
The ESPN Edge Innovation Center will be directed by an operating committee made up representatives from ESPN, the ESPN Edge founding partners and DMED. For more information, please visit ESPNEdge.com.
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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