Jonathan Wilner, vice president of product for digital video technology company Ooyala, remembers in the early 1990s watching primitive efforts in interactive television with Montreal Expos games and Quebec cable operator Videotron. Four dedicated camera angles were available, with a continual stream of on-field statistics and even player salaries.
The video quality was far from high-definition, it required a set-top box, and consumers often didn’t fully understand how to use all the options. But in many ways, the service was ahead of its time.
And in concept, it’s not much different than what Wilner and Ooyala now help dozens of sports properties and media outlets provide in a digital, high-definition environment.
“We’ve sort of come full circle from those early days of interactive TV, and the technological capabilities have now caught up with the interest that was always out there,” Wilner said.
Among Ooyala’s recent initiatives under Wilner has been to support the video efforts of the Pac-12 Digital Network, an ambitious initiative that had TV Everywhere squarely in mind from its very beginning.
“Perhaps the biggest sea change we’ve seen of late has been everybody is now thinking digital first and not having that be an adjunct,” Wilner said. “But it makes sense. There’s really nothing better than sports to have that dynamic where the viewer is fully in control.”