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07.30.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Streaming soccer network to launch 24-hour service via broadband Internet

A new joint venture between American IDC and International Sports and Media Group (IMSG) promises to bring a high degree of exposure to the concept of delivering television programming via broadband Internet service with the roll out of a new soccer channel.

The two companies intend to offer soccer fans with broadband Internet connections streaming coverage of live games, as well as library footage of past matches on a 24-hour later this year.

Both companies bring unique strengths to the endeavor. ISMG has an established network of contacts with professional soccer teams, management, promoters and sponsors that gives it a unique opportunity to acquire Internet distribution rights to and sponsorship of soccer games. “We are in ongoing discussion (with professional soccer clubs globally, leagues and sponsors), and we have access to content as we speak,” said Yan Skwara, ISMG president and CEO.

For its part, American IDC brings the technical know-how and the Internet server infrastructure to deliver what company CEO Gordon Lee calls BIT –broadband Internet TV. According to Lee, American IDC can easily accept a 19.5Mb/s stream over its fiber backbone, step the signal down to a variable bit rate that can be sent at 500Kb/s to 600Kb/s to broadband Internet customers and transcode MPEG to full-screen broadband video streaming in real time.

Lee’s involvement in BIT should not be surprising. In the mid ‘90s he founded Future Media, where two of his engineers were executive members of the MPEG council and instrumental in writing the MPEG-2 standard. In 1989, he founded USA Video, a company devoted to developing and using technology to provide alternative means of television distribution.

The joint venture between Lee’s company and ISMG is only one slice of American IDC’s overall business strategy. As Lee sees it, the majority of American IDC’s business will be providing the technological infrastructure for individuals, existing local cable channels, national cable networks and broadcast channels and networks to deliver their content to the public via BIT as an alternative to traditional cable, satellite and broadcast distribution. By year’s end, at least 10 channels will be distributed via American IDC with the ultimate potential reaching 1000 or more channels, he said.

As for the soccer venture, to be call soccertv.tv, the revenue model will closely follow the broadcast and cable pattern. ISMG will sell commercial sponsorships and advertising to apparel and automobile makers, breweries and others.

All of the details, such as how to deliver game commentary to an audience speaking disparate languages, haven’t been work out yet, but Skwara sees such concerns as minor.

“When I watch a game, it’s not an issue what language is being spoken (by the commentators), said Skwara. “Soccer is a universal language. Fans know what’s happening in the game.

“As we move this along, we will add the bells and whistles. The bottom line: it will be set up in a mode if someone wants it in German or English they will have the ability to get it,” he said.

To view a channel currently streaming programming via BIT from American IDT’s San Diego-based server, please visit: www.etvhollywood.tv.

For more information, please visit: www.AmericanIDC.com and www.ismg.info.

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