The Surf's Up News
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Sports Online:
How has video
streaming affected
sports sites?
Volume 1, Issue 4
March 2001

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Surfs-Up Articles

Digital Cameras

Internet Medicine

Buying Prescription
Drugs Online

Getting Music Online

The New Chat Rooms

Media Streaming

Games Online

Internet Business Models

Ecommerce In Canada

Buying Cars Online

Wireless Devices

Telematics In Cars

Internet Logistics

Online Exchanges

Buying Drugs from Canada

Gambling Online

Sports History & Trivia

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Video Streaming
In Sports

Online sports sites have faced an on going battle in their fight for a piece of the media sports pie.

In an interview with James Hattori of CNN, Jonathan Weber, editor in chief of the Industry Standard, said that in an effort to protect the rights of TV broadcasters, the International Olympic Committee had banned Internet journalism organizations from covering the Olympics in Sydney.

TV broadcasters had to pay fees for exclusive rights to broadcast the games in their country. In the US the NBC alone had paid $705 million, Hattori reported.

Video streaming, which is found on a number of sports sites, is seen by many as a direct competitor of television.

Associated Press reported in early March that Olympic officials hadn't wanted to jeopardize their income from TV rights, which accounted for 51 percent of all revenues from the Sydney Games, $1.33 billion of the overall $2.6 billion.

They were criticized for their harsh policy and the issue was discussed at a media conference held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in December. Associated Press reported in early March that Olympic officials decided to give accreditation to a few online news media sites to cover the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

The move was seen as a victory for Web-based sports media even though the accreditations do not include the right to use video of events, or to interview athletes at the venues, it was reported.

Gavin Chittick, chief financial officer for, which received five accreditations, was quoted in the article as saying, "We will be trying to get live interviews, have chats from the Olympics, audio coverage...We will not be able to stream video. We won't be able to interview people in the Olympic Village or on the site. But interviewing athletes off the sites is fine, whereas if you are not accredited, that is a no-go."

Bernhard Warner of IDG reported in August that some dot coms had gotten around the credential problem at the Summer Games by hiring stringers who had the necessary media passes. The only dot coms that had actual access to the events were those affiliated with other media companies. He gave the example of CNNSI reporters who were known to use the credentials given to Sports Illustrated.

At the Summer Games the only Internet company that got official access to the athletes and events was Quokka Sports, through a deal with NBC. Quokka provided official NBC Olympic coverage on the Internet from their site

Al Ramadan, president and CEO of Quokka Sports who was interviewed by Hattori on Sept. 8 said that Quokka had only been allowed to use 20 minutes per day of NBC video clips and the video highlights were only available on the site after NBC had already aired them.

Hattori reported that it seemed unbalanced with Quokka paying production costs for the site to the tune of $25 million and then having to split any profits 50-50 with NBC.

According to Ramadan the site had 35 different sporting events, with up to the minute results and at that time was shooting for an audience of 10 million unique visitors.

Nielsen//NetRatings reported that during the Olympics, generated in excess of 66 million page views, which was an average of more than 4 million page views a day. This was more traffic than any of the other Olympic sites.

Nielsen's further reported, however, that the site's appeal was limited to the U.S. The official Games' site,, was the most popular internationally attracting surfers from every corner of the globe. had given the two major sites a run for their money appearing in third spot on the Index and occasionally overtaking to be in second place. The site generated 46.47 million page views during the Games, the Nielsen// NetRatings Global 'Web Olympics Index' reported.

"Surfers looking for detailed analysis and in-depth interviews with personalities often headed to key sports sites such as, and, all of which consistently rated among the top 10 most popular Web sites in the Global Index," Nielsen's reported.

According to the Industry Standard, traffic to Olympic sites was still considerably lower than the number of viewers who had tuned into television for Olympic coverage.

NBC Sports Research reported that 56 million Americans tuned in to NBC to watch the opening ceremonies in Sydney. On Sept. 17, 111 million people tuned in to the Games making it NBC's highest-rated Sunday since Michael Jordan's last professional game in Game 6 of the NBA finals in 1998.

In an article by Reuters, reporting on the media conference organized by the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, NBC Online had received $20 million in advertising revenues for its Olympics' site during the Games. This compared with $900 million in TV advertising.

In the article NBC's Gary Zenkel said that even though it drew a smaller number of viewers to the Web than to television, NBC would continue to invest in Internet technology so it would be ready when companies like Coca-Cola were ready to invest.

Stephen Jones, chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola was quoted as saying that, "We will probably, ultimately, spend more time and resources on interactive media...There's a continuous discussion to increase...."

According to Warner, a London-based subsidiary of CBS Sportsline was one of several dot-coms attending the Olympic Internet Summit in Lausanne in an effort to determine how to incorporate Internet coverage into future Olympic Games.

Warner interviewed Servan-Schreiber, director of new media for the IOC who was quoted as saying, "The Web sites covering sports are coming of age. We're considering a new policy for Salt Lake City [site of the Winter Olympics] to allow the dot-coms into the Games."

At the Games in Sydney, Olympic organizers had also included Rule 59 in the Olympic Code of Conduct, which had made things even tougher for online sports sites. The rule stated that athletes weren't allowed to record their Olympic experiences and have them posted on the Internet.

According to Warner if an athlete violated the Code it was grounds for being thrown out of the Games. The Olympic Code of Conduct is an International Olympic Committee document that all athletes must sign before competing in the Games.

The rule was unfortunate because for the first time ever members of the public had access to an IBM-run "cyber café" linking them directly to athletes and real-time action of the Games.

Reporting for IDG in September Luisa Bustos wrote that the floating IBM Surf Shack located at Darling Harbour, had more than 50 IBM PCs and ThinkPads. Fans who visited the Surf Shack were able to send email messages to athletes using IBM's FanMail service, surf the official Olympics site or learn about the IBM technology implemented for the Games.

Bustos had interviewed Eli Primrose-Smith, IBM's vice president of worldwide Olympic and sport sponsorship who said that close to 4000 athletes had already visited the Athletes Surf Shack since its opening and more than 500 had created personal websites for fans to access.

As Warner pointed out, athlete's personal Web sites were "becoming a common part of an Olympic athlete's entourage, alongside strength and conditioning coaches and personal publicists... Some athletes believe a personal Web site is the best way of corresponding with well-wishers and friends back home." Needless to say Rule 59 didn't sit well with some athletes.

Besides the Olympics, sporting sites are making headway in other areas. John Townley of InternetNews reported in October that a deal had been made between the National Football League (NFL) and Yahoo! to include live audio play-by-play Webcasts of all this season's regular season NFL games.

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He reported that, "In contrast to the almost total worldwide Net audio blackout of the Olympics, the agreement marks the first time football fans can access live NFL game audio for free on the Internet at and team sites."

He also reported that fans can follow NFL action on Sundays and Monday nights with real-time play-by-play. and Yahoo!Sports are providing joint access to select NFL stories, interviews and behind-the-scenes features. reported in June that there had been a merger between Be Here, a provider of 360-degree Internet video technology, and Fox Sports. The merger was to adapt Internet techonology to live sports television production by providing viewing angles that closely simulated the on-site experience.

The 360 degree viewing experience allows viewers with high speed connections to scan the event from all sides making them feel as if they are actually there.

In a press release in June from Be Here, the company reported that FOX Sports Net began testing the technology during its live coverage of the Hector Camacho, Jr./Manard Reed super lightweight bout on Father's Day, June 18 at the Regent Las Vegas Hotel in Las Vegas.

The iVideo lens and software provided a live video stream of action from the ring, as well as a full 360-degree panoramic view. Viewers of the Webcast are able to control the angles they want to see by using their mouse.

Jerry Gepner, Executive Vice President,Operations, Engineering and New Technology, FOX Sports Net was quoted in the InternetNews article as saying, "The relationship has tremendous upside potential for sports television production and the sports television viewer...Our continuous goal is to provide viewers with the most compelling visual experience possible, and combining Webcast technology with television production is an exciting new frontier."

John Townley of InternetNews reported in October that had launched the X-Stream Sports Channel (XSC). Athletes and fans are able to search streaming video, audio, news, music and E-commerce within the sports category. XSC showcases a wide range of extreme and action sports, including skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, aggressive in-line skating, surfing, BMX, skimboarding, bodyboarding and many other activities.

Townley interviewed Rob Shambro, Founder and CEO of StreamSearch who was quoted as saying, "Extreme sports events are receiving increased television exposure, but the Internet has become the definitive outlet of this emerging lifestyle and culture...In fact, the X-Stream Sports Channel is the perfect convergence opportunity for the new millennium. Both the Internet and the extreme sports lifestyle embody the independent spirit, energy and constant change within today's youth culture."

In November ESPN announced that it had teamed up with Broadband sports to create a new Athletes Channel on ESPN. The channel was to complement ESPN's news, information and entertainment content by giving sports fans unfiltered interaction with their favorite sports stars.

The Athletes Channel is to feature commentary, news, chats, interviews and game analysis directly from the athletes' personal Web sites produced by AthletesDirect, a division of Broadband Sports.

AthletesDirect hosts the personal Web sites for more than 350 world-renowned athletes and sports personalities across19 sports, including Kobe Bryant, Anna Kournikova, Derek Jeter, Troy Aikman, Kevin Garnett, and Mia Hamm. The athletes use their sites to communicate directly with their fans through personal journals, chats, photos, and audio and video clips.

It is the interactive nature of the Internet that makes it different from other forms of media. For instance, earlier this month, AOL members cast ballots for the Heisman Trophy. Gwendolyn Mariano of CNET reported that Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, who publishes work online with both Broadband Sports and AOL Sports, put his official vote for the Heisman Trophy up for grabs.

Telander used the AOL members' choice as his top pick for the trophy.

He would only let AOL members choose either Drew Brees, quarterback for Purdue University, or Josh Heupel, quarterback for University of Oklahoma. The other two candidates were Chris Weinke, quarterback for Florida State University, who ended up winning the trophy, and Texas Christian University running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

Official balloting included 922 writers, broadcasters and former Heisman winners.

Wireless devices are also adding to the online sporting experience. In October writing for PCWorld, Paul Heltzel reported that each Monday, wireless service provider Shadowpack runs Dennis Miller Dymistified, a real-time Dennis Miller translation service during the week's biggest NFL game.

He reported that in one game between Kansas City and Seattle Miller said ""He dragged his feet like Neville Chamberlain." After a brief wait, Shadowpack translated: "Referring to the wartime ('37-'40) prime minister of England whose policy of appeasement toward Adolf Hitler's Germany culminated in the Munich Pact of September 1938, after which Chamberlain returned home proclaiming 'peace in our time.'""

The encyclopedia site Britannica has also been providing translations.

According to an article on the Shadowpack site, Dennis Miller Demystified "...marks the first time wireless technology has been used to enhance a live event for anyone with an Internet-enabled device." The site also offers information on how to access "Demystified" from Internet-capable phones or PDAs.

Thomas Hoffman reported in ComputerWorld in September that this year was the first time that tennis fans from around the world were able to get up-to-date scores, schedules and other information from the U.S. Open using Web-enabled mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

Hoffman predicts that "next year, they might be able to order a hot dog from their seats at Arthur Ashe Stadium here and have it brought to them so they don't miss a key volley between Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport."

In the first week of the U.S. open roughly 10,000 visitors had checked out the wirelessWeb site that IBM was maintaining for the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA). "IBM and USTA officials say it's the first step toward leveraging the business potential of wireless access to a major sporting event.... wireless e-commerce applications such as food service and merchandise ordering at the U.S. Open and other sporting events "is on the way,"" Hoffman reported officials as saying.

Advances in Internet technology are continuous. Every year something new is added to the mix and how it will eventually unfold remains to be seen. One thing for certain is that every year exposure doubles and it is only a matter of time before sporting sites are at par or overtake their television counterparts in the battle for advertising revenue.


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