There are two ways to deal with hurdles: Clear them or move them out of the way. ESPN.com has chosen the latter when it comes to streaming video.
As a user experience, streaming video has been marred by bandwidth hiccups that can turn it into trickling, even dammed video. For advertisers, streaming has often required creation of new content.
But ESPN's new ESPNMotion removes those hurdles for broadband users. It works by downloading a file containing video and audio of a short sports highlight with an even shorter (15-second) commercial. When the user visits the site, the video automatically begins playing back, devoid of burps and delays.
The service uses proprietary, patented technology based on Microsoft's Windows Media. Currently available only to ESPN Insider subscribers, who pay $4.95 a month or $39.95 a year to access subscription-only content, it will be available to all broadband users in the next few weeks.
John Skipper, executive vice president of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, considers the development one of the most exciting and innovative on the Web site. "In addition to the editorial advancement that fans will enjoy, it's a great opportunity for out advertisers to 'air' television commercials online."
Sega Sports is the first advertiser to sign on for ESPNMotion. It is running 15-second spots for its NFL2K
videogame, the same spots that appear on TV.