National Geographic, the media company, is already preparing for the enhanced storytelling capabilities that will be enabled by 5G connectivity.

Jill Cress, chief marketing and communications officer at National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, discussed this subject at CES 2019.

“We are incredibly optimistic about what 5G can do to connect us in a more personal way with our audience – and the opportunity that it has for us as a storytelling company to do that in a much more aggressive way at scale,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: National Geographic prepares for the 5G-powered content future.)

The exact contours of the 5G roll out are not yet established, but various test markets for this technology are up and running across the US. And they promise much faster connectivity for digital devices than at present, as well as minimal lag times.

Cress’s immediate objectives in this space are “understanding the viability of the timeline” and “getting ready” for the thoroughgoing availability of 5G so that National Geographic is primed and ready to embrace this powerful technology.

“For us, we’re going to continue to ensure that we are leaning into developing that kind of content so that we have it; that we're learning; and that we’re programming and coding so that those types of immersive content extensions can live in a world of 5G where it’s scalable,” Cress said during a session held by MediaLink, a strategic advisory and business development firm owned by Ascential, which is also the owner of WARC.

“So, for the last few years, we have been very much focused on how we can create immersive experiences for our viewer, leaning in to AR, VR and doing loads with 360 [video].”

A case in point is a documentary film entitled “Free Solo”, which was initially released in late 2018. This movie followed Alex Honnold as he became the first person to ascend El Capitan, a sheer 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, using a technique called “free climbing”, which typically involves reaching high peaks without ropes or safety gear.

One marketing effort undertaken in support of this film utilised 360-degree video, as crafted by National Geographic in partnership with creative studio Framestore.

In-person activations, like an event held at The Cliffs Climbing Gym in New York, further expanded this idea by leveraging a VR installation to give people an experience akin to, in Cress’s words, “white knuckling” their way up an extremely steep incline like Honnold.

“You’re in that experience through the headset and you literally feel like you are on the side of El Capitan with Alex,” she said.

Dan Calladine, Head of Media Futures at Carat Global, will be talking about what faster connectivity means for content consumption during a WARC Webinar on Monday 28th January. Sign up here for 10 Tech and Media Trends in 2019.

Sourced from WARC