Time Warner Cable of Columbus, Ohio, and Sportscapsule-a provider of sports-related Internet content-have teamed up to deliver pay-per-view high-school games via Time Warner's Road Runner Internet service.
The service allows Time Warner's data-over-cable subscribers to pay a fee to download scholastic contests from the Sportscapsule.com Web site. They can view the games in their entirety or edit them to see specific players or plays, said Time Warner director of broadband marketing Dave Tabata.
Eventually, consumers will have the ability to upload their own videotapes of games for other subscribers to view, he said.
Each week, Time Warner will select five top highlights from the Columbus area for entry in its "Central Ohio Plays of the Week" competition, Tabata said. Area residents can then view the plays on the Road Runner Web site and vote for the play of the week. Winning entries will be featured on the Road Runner site and the system's local sports program.
Time Warner hopes the Sportscapsule venture will be a value-added service that sells Road Runner subscriptions. The 193,000-home system has about 37,000 high-speed Internet customers.
"We know it's going to be a popular new content offering," Tabata said. "Everyone is trying to find a way to use the Internet to stay in touch with friends and family.
"When Billy or Sally scores the winning goal in the local soccer game, parents can clip the highlights and send it to other family members by using broadband to the fullest," he said.
Sportscapsule developed the "personal highlight service" interactive application. The company digitally encodes footage of high-school games and streams it over the Web, allowing viewers to watch on their home computers, Sportscapsule manager of business development Alex Collmer said.
Once a consumer downloads the event-which will cost from $9.95 to $14.95,-Sportscapsule lets consumers customize their experience using a number of interactive editing options, he said.
Through the company's editing suite at www.sportscapsule.com, consumers can customize any video clip or save their favorite action frames on a computer hard drive. From there, users can overlay music, graphics and sound effects-even voiceovers from sportscasters such as ESPN's Chris Berman or Fox Sports' John Madden.
"It gets people from passively watching the video and getting more interaction," Collmer added.
While most of the current footage is taken from Time Warner's coverage of local sports games, eventually consumers will be able to submit their own videos. Through a tie-in with Columbus-area photo retailer Cord Camera, consumers can submit tapes for the site at any of the chain's eight area retail stores, Tabata said.
The ability to deliver local content via high-speed Internet connections, and then to personalize that content, is an application that should drive
cable-modem penetration, Collmer said.
"The ability of a parent to create a video album of their children's athletic feats is a great way to sell broadband into the home," he said. "We've attempted to build a program that allows the cable system to integrate themselves into the community."