Cloud3 min read

How to Enhance the Sports Fan Experience With Multi-Cloud

Richard Bennett

Live sport makes hearts race, brows sweat and phones buzz in a frenzy. But it’s an experience that is no longer restricted to the lucky few in a stadium. By virtue of the streaming boom, fans can get the same experience watching the game virtually as they do in-person, all while being part of a community that could fill thousands of stadiums at once. It’s an increasingly popular option too. At the 2022 Football World Cup, for instance, fans consumed more than 800TB of data (the equivalent to 400,000 hours of movies).

It puts mobile infrastructure under a serious stress test and is why the organisers of this year’s Rugby World Cup will be under pressure to accommodate the streaming needs of over 405 million fans worldwide. But while it may appear a daunting prospect, it’s made possible with the right multi-cloud strategy. Delivering connectivity at scale, leveraging multi-cloud for fan engagement unlocks digital innovation, moving and managing apps across any cloud and any device, enriching the fan experience overall.

So what might this multi-cloud fan experience look like at the Rugby World Cup?

Delivering exceptional insights, on-demand

The fan experience is captured by emotion. The desire to feel connected to players and teams as they develop their skills is awe-inspiring and the tribalism of belonging to a designated community is almost unmatched.

In the past, Rugby fans have had to resort to the match-day programme or radio referee commentary on ‘Ref Radio’ for game-day insights. But expectations have changed and this is no longer enough to satisfy demand for full immersion in the sport. Fans now want exposure to the match-day lifecycle, from training and injury updates, through to build-up and post-game analysis and more.

It’s here that a multi-cloud fan interaction can support this level of real-time connectivity, engagement, and sheer scale. Working seamlessly together, 5G, telco and edge clouds provide the necessary compute power, as well as the low-latency connectivity to scale multi-media content for the best possible content experience.

Building trust with tools for honest gameplay

The future of the fan experience at large-scale tournaments, like the Rugby World Cup, will be largely supported by multi-cloud – as it underpins several different sporting technologies – to drive honest and integrity in the sport.

For instance, Rugby’s Television Match Official connects to multiple stadium cameras to deliver clarity and certainty on ball movements. Operating in a similar way to VAR in football or hawk-eye in tennis and cricket, it removes unnecessary ‘debate’, ensures on-field decisions can be trusted, and losses can be begrudgingly accepted.

However, slow, pixelated, or failing streams undermine this trust and so it’s here that multi-cloud strategies can help mitigate these issues. Through private 5G infrastructure and compute support in an edge cloud, the Rugby World Cup organisers can build containerised environments that ensures all stadium screens, camera equipment, local applications and storage software connect to the same local network delivering fast, low-latent rich multi-media content at scale. This means the TMO is never delayed, fans trust its output and the tournament maintains an exceptional fan experience with multi-cloud.

Seamless collaboration with public infrastructure

Although typically slow and untrustworthy, public Wi-Fi is often the default internet connection in a stadium. Replacing this with private 5G networks transforms the connected fan experience and interaction with public services.

For instance, if every fan connects to the same private 5G network as they enter the stadium, each seat becomes a de facto IoT device. This is because the connections provide a virtual picture of how many fans are in the stadium and where and especially, when they are sitting in their seats, supporting capacity planning, forecasting, and calculating floor space. But from a more practical point of view, this means the Rugby World Cup can also track how many fans have left a game and at what point, and when they are about to enter nearby roads or use public transport.

Moreover, this innovation comes to life in public services, transport, or security. The ubiquitous connectivity between private and public 5G networks is all about data balance and federation. These services become empowered with real-time insight into fan activity – supporting policing, logistics and emergency services as they support the event.

Foundational multi-cloud technology in sports entertainment isn’t anything new. It’s evolved naturally with the infrastructure requirements. But the consumer requirements are also evolving and will demand 5G connectivity to better deliver applications and rich companion experiences. These examples show where multi-cloud technology bridges seamlessly between public safety and security needs, whilst delivering transparent excitement and passion for sports fans.