We keep seeing snippets of the future of entertainment. Verizon announced one, with their NFL Network Game Extra service, now being provided to Verizon video and wireline broadband subscribers. Viewers of the service are given a “virtual control booth” enabling them to watch live, online broadcasts of NFL Network preseason and Thursday Night Football games while selecting from multiple camera feeds. Subscribers will have access to alternate camera angles and live audio feeds and have the ability to view one of four camera angles on demand, or all four angles simultaneously. Other features include:
- live online chats with other NFL Network Game Extra viewers during the live games
- game statistics, highlights and drive-chart simulations during the games
- on-demand video highlights of the games
- special events, such as college bowl games and college all-star games including the Insight Bowl, Texas Bowl and Senior Bowl
Unfortunately, the service is limited to the pre-season and is only viewable on-line through their broadband connection. The optimist in me hopes it’s a start of what will eventually become standard television viewing. I remember first learning about IPTV back in the late 90’s, and the idea of viewers being able to control multiple camera angles of sporting events was always cited as a forthcoming feature that will offer competitive differentiation. While this Verizon illustration isn’t quite that vision yet, it appears to be heading that way. I recognize that this vision is not unique to IPTV. Verizon isn’t a true IPTV player to begin with, and DirecTV has been experimenting with similar features for some time. But it is illustrative of the potential of entertainment and broadband convergence features. Features that all video and multi-play service providers will need to understand and leverage to the best of their ability.