Friday, September 17, 2010

Fox Sports North: Enabling the Live Video Web

By Matt Apfel, VP East Coast Content

The limits of the Internet are endless, so it’s really strange that, until recently, live video really wasn’t an option. Sure, there was AIM and chat rooms – if you wanted to type messages in real-time. Yes, Apple has had limited live video chat for a while now, if you can get a good Web connection. Only recently has technology evolved to enable quality live streaming video of events, concerts, sports games, etc.

With the advent of the real-time Web, audiences are finally able to connect a new dimension – video! Now, people can take advantage of the intimate communication and social activity that already make the Internet such an amazing place. For the first time, there will be a face (real and virtual) to support all that typing. We’ll watch it live – and experience it live – together, no matter where we are sitting.

For example, Fox Sports North was looking for a comprehensive platform to power live high school sporting events such as football and ice hockey. This platform is part of a larger, community-based programming effort to engage their viewer in all aspects of their sporting lives. So, using our Coincident TV immersive video editor and player, we developed the Prep Zone, an application that offers an amazingly simple and social way to watch your favorite sports teams live and in action.

Viewers access a landing page with four featured games of the week. Once they click on a preferred game, they’re instantly tapped into a live feed that lets them catch all of the real-time excitement. Meanwhile, users can view team pages and player information without ever surfing away from the game.

Within the video player, audiences can cheer and jeer or rant and rave as if they’re in the stands. Broadcast live with local crews and commentary, the high-quality game feeds run into the Coincident TV player thanks to our partners at Akamai. Fans can simply click on any of the other four games at any time and instantly switch over, carrying on with the interactivity and relevant weblinks without missing a beat.

From local athletes to families, alumni and distant fans, we’ve seen audiences engage with each other and Prep Zone content far after the final whistle blows. Debating specific plays and strategy, these passionate viewers are ready to interact with fellow fans and sports teams. We’ve only been live with Prep Zone for two weeks, and the instant feedback from the 13,000 unique viewers who have tuned in has been phenomenal. Live Web video paired with Coincident TV offers all kinds of interesting brand engagement possibilities – and we’re starting to explore some of them with this project.

For example, in Prep Zone there are four different local football streams. Each has two teams from two different cities. We’re planning to roll out customized, targeted ads depending on which team fans support with the local WalMart or McDonald’s in each hometown. Adding the live dimension offers more possibilities, such as connecting the owner of a regional franchise with the community via live chat, or offering deals and discount pricing for goods within the live Webcast. The hyper-local advertisements aren’t just coupons targeting you via search, they’re engaging retail opportunities that reach you and your community from within your community.

As we adapt the Prep Zone application to offer even more immersive capabilities using Coincident TV software, we’ll see how the real-time social video Web evolves. We’re eager to offer many opportunities for communities to engage with local sports teams, players, peers and commerce and see limitless potential behind the interactive live video platform.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Value of the Coincident TV Software Suite

By Winter Mead, Product Marketing Director

Most people these days hear about the world of online video exploding. For example, Comscore measured 178 million U.S. Internet viewers in July 2010 watching an average of 14.7 hours of online video per viewer. The sheer quantity of videos viewed on the web has risen from 9.2 billion in September 2007 to near 34 billion today. And while the video explosion is undeniable, the more important focus is how content creators can monetize this recent phenomenon.

This is where Coincident TV comes in. Coincident offers software to create interactive video -- defined as the merging of online video, social media, weblinks and commercial transactions in one immersive experience. Wait, the merging of what you ask?!

Well, it's simple. You can take online streaming video, put images over the video, and link these images to all web pages and other online videos anywhere on the Internet! That means linking to video streaming from YouTube, Brightcove, Akamai, Facebook,, Limelight, and more, or linking to any web page that has a live URL, including social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Coincident TV program is built with the Coincident TV software suite, which consists of an Editor, Player, and Analytics portal.

The Editor is a browser-based application designed as an assets assembler; that is, the video, images, and other assets are built using other products but they are assembled in the Editor as an interactive video experience. After video is imported into the Editor, the content creator can overlay images onto the video. These overlays can be set to navigate to other parts of imported video, link to other videos saved as CTV files, or link to other web pages.

The Player is web-based and plays in a browser. The Player plays files saved in the Editor that are known as CTV files, i.e., files with a .ctv extension. The most important feature of the Player is the Picture-in-Picture functionality that allows the viewer/user of the video to never leave the video while browsing the web. The video is always the top layer in the browser, ensuring that a video experience stays a video experience while opening up new opportunities for contextualized web-browsing and e-commerce.

The Analytics portal allows the content creator to measure the effectiveness of the interactive project -- seeing who clicks on what and when. All actions within the Player are measured on Coincident TV log servers. Analytic reports includes count information such as total and unique clicks, videos, and session data, and also in-depth information on clicks inside the video, Picture-in-Picture layout, and breakdown of CTV file navigation.

Together these three parts of the software suite offer a unique way of browsing the web through a video experience, and a new way of monetizing and increasing the value of a project's video, graphic, and web assets.

Welcome to the world of the video web, where Coincident TV offers a simplified way to create your valuable interactive video experiences!