As a young software engineer, LaBerge joined Starwave. The company’s CTO was one of the creators of the Java programming language and he wanted to work with Java, which was being positioned in the 1990s as technology that would enable users to “connect all the electronic devices in the world, including TVs.”
“It was an exciting vision of the future, and I wanted to work on that future,” he said.
Disney eventually acquired Starwave and LaBerge wound up working on automated products for NFL.com, NBA.com, NASCAR.com and what would become ESPN.com. He became the second CTO of Disney-owned ESPN, overseeing all media engineering, data and advertising.
LaBerge was part of the ESPN team that designed and built the world’s first 1080p, IP broadcast production facility. He also worked on the ESPN app and was a key architect in the design, development and engineering of ESPN’s facilities in Bristol, Conn., Los Angeles, Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas. He was also involved in building the facilities and infrastructure that connects ESPN’s worldwide facilities and the technology design and development to support the SEC Network.
“The scale of our platforms and content is astounding — hundreds of live channels, theatrical and episodic VOD content in a multiplicity of languages, delivered to thousands of partners and hundreds of products, all around the globe,” he said.
His most recent challenge has been coordinating the technology teams from across The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, which Disney acquired in 2018. Under LaBerge, the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution technology team handles the development, engineering and deployment of consumer-facing digital products for the company.
“Right now, we are building a next-generation digital content supply chain that delivers Disney content to our partners [like MVPDs, distributors] and products [like ABC News, TV Everywhere streaming products, and our direct-to-consumer products like Disney+],” LaBerge explained.
“Between advances in wireless networking, the explosion of smartphones, shifting of media business models, and global access to the consumer,” he summarized, “it’s a great time to work in this industry, and it’s an even better time to be a consumer.”
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Gary Arlen, a contributor to Broadcasting & Cable, NextTV and TV Tech, is known for his visionary insights into the convergence of media + telecom + content + technology. His perspectives on public/tech policy, marketing and audience measurement have added to the value of his research and analyses of emerging interactive and broadband services. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the long-time “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports; Gary writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs.