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T-Mobile to Livestream MLB Home Run Derby via 5G Helmet Cameras

Derek Walborn

Major League Baseball fans who have felt the viewing limitations of wide-angle lenses and long-distance shots when it comes to experiencing the festivities surrounding the All-Star Game will find their wishes granted this year, as T-Mobile is marketing its 5G network by installing cameras on players’ helmets for the 2021 Home Run Derby.

The feeds from these point-of-view cameras will be streamed live to a special T-Mobile website, where the company hopes to showcase the benefits of their 5G technology with the footage (hopefully) remaining synchronized and crystal clear.

The camera feeds will not be presented in 4K, but rather regular high definition, and it’s not yet known which or how many players will be fitted with the devices.

The cameras will be live for both batting practice as well the event itself.

These POV extras are being unveiled alongside a new AR mobile app that people can use to explore Coors Field in 3D as well as get detailed stats listed for each swing taken. Those with 5G will get a few extra metrics added to the mix, like hang time and exit velocity.

The event is kicking off on July 12, with batting practice at 6:30 pm ET and the derby officially getting underway at 8 pm ET. The event itself will be carried by ESPN.

While this is undoubtedly a marketing exercise for T-Mobile to get a few chances to advertise its 5G offerings, it’s impossible not to see this video game/sci-fi approach as a look into what could be the often-cited “future of sports,” especially as live coverage across streaming platforms has grown exponentially in recent years.

With streaming platforms clearly holding the keys when it comes to sports presentation, creative competition among providers will undoubtedly yield some curveballs. While many will fall to the wayside as mere gimmicks and footnotes, it’s hard to deny that advancements in streaming technology are yielding all kinds of new ways for fans to feel closer to the action and for providers to explore new ways in which to engage with notoriously hard-to-reach demographics.

One such example is NBC’s partnership with Twitch in presenting the upcoming Olympic Games. The collaboration was created to serve a younger audience that has not been as quick to indulge in long-term subscription-based relationships with streaming platforms.

T-Mobile’s efforts may end up being plagued by technical challenges and glitches, and one can assume that a shaky, head-mounted camera might lend itself more to motion sickness and frustration than an enhanced experience.

Even if the efforts go off without a hitch, notoriously fickle sports fans may end up rejecting any shifts in traditional presentation formats. However, T-Mobile’s publicity stunt might just provide a stepping stone and some important insight into the best ways in which sporting events can be presented to younger, more technologically savvy viewers going forward.

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