NTT has signed a multi-year agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB) to enhance fan experience through the deployment of video technologies.
Unveiled at MLB Headquarters in New York, the alliance - the first for a Japanese technology provider - will see NTT roll out Ultra Reality Viewing (URV) following a prototype run at select upcoming games.
URV operates as a “real-time high-definition” surround video technology offering, combining multiple 4K camera images into a wide image such as 12K, before transmitting them to remote locations.
The aim is to allow users to view sports content “as if they were watching it live in the stadium or on the field”, with the solution based on NTT’s Kirari! technology.
“Technological innovations have the potential to change sport and fan experience drastically,” said said Jun Sawada, president and CEO of NTT Corporation. “Based on our heritage of innovation and successful implementation experience, we will contribute to MLB’s success by creating a new fan experience with our unique URV technology.
"Through this partnership, NTT aims to establish the valuable technology solution that brings smart sports to life."
Sawada said NTT will also collaborate with MLB create a “new baseball fan experience” amid plans to boost customer experiences through smart technologies.
“We’re excited NTT has committed to building an expanded baseball technology portfolio and we eagerly anticipate what the partnership will deliver for clubs and fans,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred.
“Sharing, and executing on, a vision to leverage advanced technologies to benefit baseball fans will serve as the foundation for how our NTT partnership will explore and experiment with unique ways to create new baseball experiences.”
The partnership comes two months after the newly-launched NTT took over the iconic technology agreement with Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation, extending the partnership until 2024.
Originally initiated by Dimension Data in 2015, the move places the technology giant in charge of fan experience during the race, delivered through data, digital and smart technologies.
Specifically, the technology provider is tasked with improving the viewing experience by leveraging enhanced TV graphics through data insights from NTT’s live data team and 3D mapping of the live race situation.
NTT also rolled out augmented reality during the race this year, using technology to "create a vision for how home-based fans could watch and interact with the race in the future".
Other innovations include ‘Le Buzz’ - a new machine-learning model which was also trialled for the first time at the 2019 Tour de France. The offering analyses the movements within the peloton to predict potential key moments such as the increased likelihood of a crash, a split in the peloton or a change in the race dynamics.