ESPN has launched the ESPN Edge Innovation Center, aiming to 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 enable 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.
From the early days of ABC Sports, to the development of technologies like the Pylon Cam, MegaCast and groundbreaking approaches to remote productions during the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN and Disney have a heritage of embracing technology to better serve sports fans.
In bringing the Edge Innovation Center initiative to life, ESPN, working with the technology team in Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED), will explore opportunities to enhance sports fan experiences with global professional services and innovation company Accenture; Microsoft, a leader in engineering and digital technology; and Verizon, one of the world’s leading providers of 5G technology, as ESPN Edge Founding Partners. Together, the companies will explore, develop and potentially adopt emerging technologies and approaches to enhance and advance the experiences sports fans and athletes have with ESPN’s world-class storytelling.
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, driving value for all parties involved.
“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.”
ESPN Edge Founding Partners:
- Accenture – 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. Together they will explore technologies and approaches that seek to enhance the production of live sporting events, consumer-facing products and personalized fan experience. ESPN selected Accenture as its Innovation and Founding Consulting Partner for its ability to visualize and create game-changing fan experiences.
- Microsoft – ESPN and Microsoft are teaming up to explore innovative cloud-based solutions to deliver optimal content and services to customers when they want it. 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.
- Verizon–Verizon and ESPN are partnering to create 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. Fans could be empowered to select and view games from multiple camera angles, be transported via a 360-degree portal to view exclusive footage or have a retail experience enhanced by augmented reality. 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. Verizon has America’s most reliable network⁰ and 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 comprised of representatives from ESPN, the ESPN Edge founding partners and DMED. For more information, please visit ESPNEdge.com.
ESPN will also host an inaugural virtual event, the ESPN Edge Conference, on Wednesday, September 29. Kevin Negandhi and Christine Williamson will guide the segments throughout the virtual event, with key topics including sports rights in the streaming age, reimagining the fan experience and more.
⁰ Claim based on the RootMetrics® US, state, and metro RootScore® Reports: 2H 2013-1H 2021. Tested with best commercially available smartphones on 3 mobile networks across all available network types. Your experiences may vary. The RootMetrics award is not an endorsement of Verizon.
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