SBJ/20100816/This Week's News

Highlights app on deck for college football

New York-based On Demand Real Time will have an application ready for the fall that will stream college football highlights to cell phones and hopes the offering will be used by at least one of the TV networks that carries college action.

ESPN is the most logical fit, since during the World Cup it successfully tested the service, which provides highlights as soon as eight seconds after a play happens. But neither ESPN nor On Demand Real Time would say if they will expand that relationship. “We …  don’t have definitive plans to utilize the technology,” an ESPN spokesperson said.

Using a technology called PlayItOver, ESPN tested the highlights application to about 100 cell phone users during the World Cup. Computers tagged 17,000 pieces of action, including about 2,000 shots on goal and about 100 goals.

All parties involved were pleased with the test, with highlights becoming available eight to 15 seconds after the plays occurred. Highlights cut by others took as much as 15 minutes to become available, according to On Demand Real Time’s co-founder and CEO Douglas Vunic.

Vunic says he has computers cut the highlights, using a form of facial-recognition technology. “Basically, this is face recognition on steroids,” he said.

The service lets users pick highlights they want, from touchdowns to tackles made by individual players. Highlights can either be pushed to a mobile device or accessed through an app.

Broadcasters are responsible for developing the subscriber model. The World Cup, for example, was a flat fee of $7.99 for the entire tournament.

Vunic and his advisers are in the market talking to broadcasters about the service. Univision tested it during a Spain-Mexico soccer friendly last week.

Advisers include former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson, former Omnicom executive Arnie Semsky and media consultant Lee Berke. Vunic approached Pilson about a year ago to use the longtime media executive’s contacts to try to get networks to buy into the technology.

“We expect this technology to emerge in the next two to three years,” Pilson said. “I’m convinced that this will be a significant new revenue opportunity.”

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