John Smelzer, Fox Sports Interactive Media VP, business development, is one busy guy. He not only keeps track of interactive developments but also gets to negotiate deals. Smelzer discussed a recent deal, which brought Fox College Sports to SmartVideo's mobile service, with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer.
What is the SmartVideo service?
SmartVideo is geared to smart phones, which are basically phones with computer operating systems like Windows and Symbian. Any phone that has one of those two systems can access the product. At its core, it uses Internet Protocol [IP] to deliver video from a server in Atlanta. It streams at 15 frames per second, and it's effectively an Internet-video experience on your mobile phone.
Many TV stations and networks don't have someone monitoring these technologies. What's your advice on approaching these technologies?
It's tough because you want to be aggressive, anticipate the new technologies, and protect and honor your existing and core business. We're very careful with rights to highlights and games. A lot of people read press releases from us and misunderstand what we do. We don't distribute live games or highlight packages because, as a general rule, we don't have those rights. So we're distributing news, analysis, interviews, press conferences and the editorial coverage of the games, but not the games themselves.
In the UK, clips of soccer goals are sent within two minutes after they happen. When will U.S. sports leagues be comfortable with that instant coverage?
The leagues and broadcasters are discussing that. At the end of the day, the fans will demand it. There will be an economic model to support it. Major players will have to find equitable ways to do these deals.
Are rights issues clearer in college sports?
We're more likely to obtain new-media rights for those properties sooner than major leagues'. We'll absolutely be putting college games we have rights to on broadband, wireless and SmartVideo.