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October 2017

Research Report
The Meaning of VR: Delivering 360 Degree Videos by Public Service Broadcasters

Towards 2020 and Beyond

Masaru Yamaguchi

What will virtual reality, or VR, bring to broadcasting? The next generation telecommunications standard 5G will be introduced in the coverage of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. VR video delivery will dramatically change live sports coverage. The author explores what public service broadcasters should and can do in VR delivery as he looks into the latest trends in the IT and telecommunications industries as well as the moves of public service broadcasters in the world.

NHK has been working on VR journalism and utilizing VR technology in its internet services since 2015. In June 2017, NHK delivered the world’s first 360 degree video synchronized to broadcasting when it aired a documentary program titled “Trump World.” This service allowed viewers to experience a 360 degree of the world extended from the TV screen only by moving their smartphones up and down and side to side. With this, a new style of TV viewing was proposed.

Meanwhile, in the Olympic Games-an event that attracts global attention-Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) introduced 360 degree video delivery in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and 2016 is now called “VR’s inaugural year.” Deploying 5G technology, the PyeongChang and the Tokyo Olympic Games will go further to put in practice more sophisticated VR delivery including multi-view and free-view services, sponsored by world class IT and telecommunications companies. Overseas public service broadcasters are also starting VR delivery services in places such as Europe where viewers already enjoy online distribution of TV content on daily basis and in Korea where 4K digital terrestrial broadcasting was launched in 2017 with the introduction of the next generation broadcast standard ATSC3.0, which has a high affinity for IP communications. This paper discusses whether telecommunications-based VR delivery will become a new service of public broadcasting and of the public media.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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