Verizon Video: VOD Mobile App Launches for Android this Week

  • Verizon Wireless launches Verizon Video this week — a new version of its video-on-demand application for mobile phones, providing Android users with more than 250 current full-episode TV shows from ABC, NBC, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, Cartoon Network and others.
  • Premium content is also available including live sports coverage from NFL Mobile, NFL RedZone, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and NFL network.
  • The 4G LTE and select 3G service will cost $10/month or $3 for 24 hours.
  • According to the press release: “Verizon Video updates V CAST Video on select devices and current V CAST Video subscribers will be prompted to update the app the next time it launches. After the upgrade, it will then appear under the name Verizon Video.”
  • The Verizon Video app is powered by RealNetworks.

ESPN’s Billion-Plus Online Video Streams Now Powered by Ooyala

  • ESPN has selected Mountain View-based Ooyala to power the sports broadcaster’s streaming video content. The platform will replace a proprietary model administered by ESPN.
  • Ooyala’s platform will reportedly increase the quality of playback, reduce load times and streamline back-end management.
  • “It’s a serious feather in the cap and vote of confidence for the four-year-old video startup, as ESPN is one of the biggest producers of online video content, with 400 unique visitors hitting play on ESPN videos every second (and serving over 1 billion streams per month),” reports TechCrunch.
  • The media technology site sees the move as positive: “All in all, it’s great to see ESPN finally offering a quality player with fast load times and a more linear on demand experience in which video queues and layouts feel more akin to a television viewing experience — and can compete in ease of video use with YouTube.”

ESPN Takes a New Approach to 3D Production

  • Variety reports that ESPN remains enthusiastic about 3D technology, despite its slow adoption (and AT&T’s recent decision to drop ESPN 3D from its U-Verse TV service).
  • ESPN is pushing its 3D effort by focusing on combining 2D and 3D production (nicknamed “5D”), which the network says brings costs down substantially. 2D/3D production includes slower cutting and more use of robotic cameras. As the production crews gain more experience in shooting sports beyond HD, the equipment, camera placement and general approach continues to improve.
  • “Some innovations created for 3D have even made it over to the 2D side,” reports Variety. “For example, 3D cameras need to be closer to the action than 2D cameras, so the high 50-yard-line shots that are a staple of football coverage are problematic. To get closer, ESPN put a 3D camera on a 22-foot mast on a small vehicle that goes up and down the sideline.”
  • ESPN stands by the technology, explaining that Twitter feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And some play-by-play announcers have even indicated they don’t want to go back to watching 2D.

Internet TV More Popular than 3D TV, 3D Jump Expected by 2015

  • Only 2 percent of U.S. homes will have a 3D TV by year’s end, and the market is expected to only improve slightly to 5 percent penetration in 2012.
  • However, SNL Kagan reports that these figures will jump to 21 percent in 2015.
  • Internet-enabled TVs are currently more popular, projected to go from 14 percent penetration this year to 51 percent in 2015.
  • The report also concludes that a lack of 3D content has been a problem thus far, but growing interest in 3D sports and films should help sustain the technology in the future.

Apple TV Offers Live MLB and NBA Games

Baseball and basketball fans can now turn to the second-generation Apple TV for live and on-demand archived games streaming in HD.  The subscription service will cost $100/year for MLB.tv (spring training and regular season games and access to archived games).  A $120 premium version provides access to both home and away games.  Basketball games are accessible via the NBA League Pass Broadband service. The NBA service offers two options: a $65 version lets users follow up to seven teams throughout the regular season, while a $99 option provides games from all 30 teams.

Both services have blackouts based on the subscription’s registration address.

Access to the new services is enabled by the iOS for Apple TV 4.2 update, and will work similarly to Netflix. Users sign in via an account and password, and then access whatever content the subscription permits. Roku has offered similar MLB.tv access for some time and recently added NHL and UFC options. This could be what sports fans need to ditch traditional cable services.

In a related Wall Street Journal “All Things Digital” article (3/14/11), ESPN reports that only a tiny fraction of sports fans have cut the cable cord, a number that may be moot considering the equal number of fans who added cable and broadband access during the same period.

 

NCAA March Madness via Online, Tablets and Mobile Devices

According to a press release from Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA, this year’s 68-team NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament will feature newly enhanced March Madness on Demand (MMOD) live products. The services (produced by Turner Sports Interactive) will be available across multiple platforms, including online, and as an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and for the first time, the iPad. Features available over Wi-Fi and 3G include live viewing with larger format streams, a personalized channel lineup, live in-game stats, social companion views, and more.

Live streaming of every game broadcast by CBS Sports and Turner Sports will start with the First Four on March 15, and run through the Men’s Final Four semifinals and national championship game on April 2 and April 4.

Beginning March 10, free mobile apps will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad from the iTunes Apps store.

For a complete list of features, check out the press release included in the Engadget post.

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