The evolving TV business “is not a passive sport, it’s an active sport,” said Joe Inzerillo. From his first job for the Chicago White Sox (where he handled broadcasting and other business affairs) through Major League Baseball (and its MLB Advanced Media unit), Inzerillo has blazed through roles in the fast-changing world to media technology.
Now he oversees the technology aspects of streaming services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, but he remembers the “early days” just 15 years ago.
“We were so early that we were making it up as we went,” Inzerillo said, calling the process “exciting but terrifying.”
During his Chicago days Inzerillo worked at the United Center (home of the Bulls and the Blackhawks), where he handled broadcast and telecommunications. When he became CTO of Major League Baseball in New York, he already had streaming video experience as well as a broadcast TV background — a useful combo when he launched MLB.tv, the first over-the-top sports package.
At MLB, Inzerillo oversaw technology development for BamTech Media, which powered MLB’s streaming service, as well as managed internet rights for all 30 MLB teams. Bamtech licensed its technology for delivering digital content and applications to sports entertainment clients such as ESPN and World Wrestling Entertainment. When The Walt Disney Co. (parent of ESPN) bought Bamtech in 2017, Inzerillo moved to Disney.
Inzerillo credits “learning by failure,” making mistakes in order to gain valuable experiences. And he’s happy that “a lot of those happened before anyone else was paying attention.”
Given his media technology portfolio, Inzerillo expects that video will continue to expand.
“Just because the streaming business is booming doesn’t mean prior media will go away; it’s nowhere near tapped out,” he said. He is especially enthusiastic about “group watch,” a system that makes it more engaging for viewers to share a “communal experience” even though they are watching programs from different locations.
Inzerillo still loves the technology, citing the in-camera special effect used for the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.”
“That kind of technology creates immersive effects to put people into places [in the story],” Inzerillo said. “That’s the most extraordinary development, letting you think about storytelling in a much different way.”
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