At a college football game several Saturdays ago, I noticed that many people were taking pictures and using Facetime and other streaming methods to broadcast their experiences to friends. The question is, what would happen if this was done on a larger scale, such as for the BCS championship taking place today?
Being a bit of a luddite in some ways, I don’t have a smart phone or cable. On the other hand, I’m quite ahead of the curve in that I’ve been streaming most of my video content via a computer for close to three years*. Given this perspective, and my general aversion to paying monthly fees, I though that these various feeds from smartphones couldn’t be combined into a cohesive picture of the game being played.
For that matter, for those that do have access to ESPN, or ESPNU (ESPN unavailable?), this could work as a second-screen source of information to see what is going on at the game. Just think, while a commercial is playing, or there’s a lul in the action, you could be checking out the pensive look of the coach, the mascot, or the player injured on the play before. Or you could simply be looking at a different view of the action. A service like this could even be used for high school or small college games that wouldn’t normally be televised. It wouldn’t even have to be for sports, a ballet recital, wedding, or any other event could be broadcast this way.
Google hangouts is similar to what I would have in mind, but there’s a limit to ten people on this service. Also most of the people would be observing this “crowd sourced broadcast,” not actively participating. A service like this could possibly be ad supported, and people could even be paid for filming. Depending on the level of sophistication, a producer could pick between live feeds, or observers could be free to choose their feed.
The technology for this exists today, but what would have to happen would be the establishment of some sort of infrastructure that people could log onto and participate. I’m not sure of the legal hurdles that someone would face doing this. Certainly the NCAA, ESPN, and others wouldn’t be too happy with it. They would most likely try to take it over and shut it down or monetize it.
On the other hand, maybe ESPN could be the instigators of this (or maybe just give us a pay-per-view option on the computer). However, after blacking out every college football game that I wanted to watch on ESPN3, I really hope they don’t try this idea. Maybe this article can count as “prior art” if they try to patent something like this.
Which brings me to my final point. If this is such a good idea, why am I revealing it to the world? If you’ve followed this blog whatsoever, you would know that I publish many, many hacks and ideas that I have. Most of the stuff I think up has little commercial value that I can see, but some does (and I haven’t revealed everything). For this idea though, I have very little background in video streaming, therefore it would be a bit out of my realm of knowledge and the idea would just languish. I’m at least putting it out there as a neat idea.
As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” So that’s one idea. If you end up making some money off of it, 1% would be a nice tip! Not that this means I’m giving up any rights to this idea that I may have, but I have no idea if this is patentable anyway. Besides, the Beastie Boys did something similar in 2006, with their “Awesome, I … Shot that!” DVD (Under $5 on Amazon!), even if it wasn’t live.
*More if you count that I had a computer hooked up to my TV in 2006, even if it wasn’t my primary content device. Also, besides being behind/ahead of the tech curve, I’ve also somewhat diverged from it altogether with stuff that appears on this blog.