Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Enhanced Monday Night Football

Original Enhanced TV LogoLast night a popular American pastime ended with little fanfare. The last broadcast of ABC’s Monday Night Football aired with a fairly dull game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. I mention it here because few realize the technological advances made over the years by production crew at ABC. I had the honor of being part of some of their innovative online advances.

Well ahead of other broadcast companies, Capital Cities/ABC had been experimenting online for years when purchased by the Walt Disney Corp in 1995. ABC along with Disney’s Buena Vista Internet Group created the concept called Enhanced TV which bridged the gap between the internet and broadcast television. The flagship of ABC’s Enhanced TV was Monday Night Football.

Viewers who had a computer near their TV could received additional information about teams, players, participate in real-time polls and trivia all synchronized with the live broadcast. Updated player stats were available with the click of a mouse. For the fantasy gamers, I was responsible for an interactive real-time game called PrimeTime Player™. Viewers could try their hand at predicting the next play and see how their picks compared to other players on our leaderboard.

Original PrimeTime Player 1998
Press Release 1999

Unfortunately, in the those days, not a lot of folks had computers located in the same room as their television. It hasn’t stopped ABC from developing additional ideas. The logo has changed but the possibilities are endless. As more of us watch TV with laptops or Tablet PC’s I expect Enhanced TV might just have a future. I’m sorry that Monday Night Football won’t be part of it.

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