WiseDV gets smart to enhance fan experience

By Ken Kerschbaumer

With companies like Qualcomm, Modeo, and others ready to launch new mobile video services in 2007 the medium is already shaping up to be one of the hot trends of the year.

The burgeoning medium will also provide opportunities for a number of new companies that are looking to help sports fans stay in touch with their favorite teams and sports.

WiseDV, an upstart company based in San Diego and with operations in England, India and Hong Kong is one example, looking to build a wireless multimedia entertainment system that can be used in sports stadiums and arenas around the globe.

“It’s a huge opportunity because there are a lot of untapped markets, especially for NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA venues,” says Kelly Peterson, WiseDV VP of business development. “And there are various technologies out there doing the same thing, which is enhancing the live experience over a PDA or other handheld device.”

KangarooTV is the current leader in the market and can be found at NASCAR and Formula One races, helping race fans keep on top of the action with in-car video, race coverage, and a wealth of statistics delivered to a ruggedized portable device that fans rent. Fans then return the device at the end of the race weekend.

WiseDV is taking a different approach. Its device, which has a four-inch LCD screen to deliver MPEG-4 video via DVB-H transmission, can receive event-related video, audio and stats inside the venue. It can also be used as an MP3 audio and video player in between events.

“The system and product are tunable over UHF frequency range including inlicensed spectrum and the advantage is we can bring it into the stadium or arena without specialized technology at each venue,” says Peterson. “And consumers can buy the device and then subscribe per stadium or team and use it inside the venue.”

The company is gearing up for some live trials in the upcoming months and will also nail down a business model. “Users will be able to buy a subscription to the Wisecast network online and automatically activate their handheld,” says Peterson. “They can then take it to different sporting events.”

The new devices will also open up innovative advertising opportunities while delivering up to eight channels of video. “Advertisers will be able to profile potential customers and deliver 15-second video clips,” adds Peterson.

In the future the services will only become more interactive, with the DVB-H system receiving information from individual devices. “Fans will be able to order drinks and food from the device and have it automatically charged to a credit card,” says Peterson.

As for a viable price point on a per-event basis Peterson says a fee in the $3-$25 range appears to be most viable. “With people paying thousands of dollars for box seats we think they’ll pay an extra few for scoreboard video and data,” he adds.