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PVI Inks Sports Deals with ESPN, Sportvision

ESPN has acquired intellectual property from PVI Virtual Media Services to enhance the sports network’s use of virtual insertion and 3D graphics technology in its sports programming. ESPN said it would hire “substantially all” of the PVI staff of engineers. Upon completion of the deal, ESPN will hold the rights to “substantially all” of PVI’s IP, including virtual insertion, player tracking, iTV applications, as well as 3D graphics development. Coming on the heels of its acquisition of virtual design company Vistas Unlimited earlier this year, the PVI acquisition is expected to bolster the network’s virtual and 3D graphics capabilities.

Based in Lawrenceville, NJ, PVI, which was created when its parent company, Princeton Video Image declared bankruptcy in 2003, is known as the pioneer of “downstream” enhancement technology that allows sports broadcasters to virtually insert graphics, in-studio, reducing the need for technical staff and equipment on location at an event. “This is another acquisition that augments ESPN’s leadership position in innovation and technology development,” said Chuck Pagano, executive vice president, ESPN technology. “PVI has developed some of the television industry’s leading virtual content, and now the addition of their engineering team will help ESPN continue to invent ground-breaking production enhancements for our fans.”

In addition, another sports graphics company, Chicago-based Sportvision, known for developing the “1st & Ten” graphic line marker in NFL broadcasts, has been granted a license to PVI’s library of issues patents and intellectual property, and additionally has acquired the rights to commercially provide all PVI products and services both domestically and internationally.

“We’ve always had tremendous respect for PVI and their capabilities, and we’re thrilled to combine these complementary technologies and integrate PVI’s significant computer vision-based capabilities with our world-class tracking and sensor-based technologies,” said said Hank Adams, CEO, Sportvision, Inc. “Our partners will benefit greatly, as we can offer them the most comprehensive end-to-end solution set in the global market.”