Launched in 2001, Leafs TV (www.leafstv.com) is a 24/7, ad supported,
digital regional TV service available via cable/satellite platforms throughout
Ontario, excluding the Greater Ottawa regional district. A wholly owned
subsidiary of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Leafs TV has a subscriber
base of over 220,000 homes, twice 2005 totals and quadruple 2002 levels.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment also owns the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs,
the NBA Toronto Raptors, the MLS Toronto FC, the OHL Toronto Marlies and the Air Canada Centre Arena
in downtown Toronto.
Having launched the NHL’s first ever team owned TV outlet, Leafs TV was exploring ways of extending the broadcasting envelop to include greater fan access and more interactivity while at the same time ensuring that any on-line initiatives would respect the NHL’s traditional geographic broadcast territorial boundaries.
Wary of not infringing into the media world of their neighbouring hockey partners, streaming live game action on the hitherto “borderless” Internet platform was a key barometer to measure the success of the Leafs TV Broadband initiative, both for the club and the league.
“Given the relatively speaking universal access of the Internet, we needed a broadband solution that was both restrictive and controlled, but at the same time, was innovative enough to allow us to expand our on-line properties and propel Leafs TV onto the cutting edge of the new media world” noted Chris Hebb, Maple leaf Sports and Entertainment, VP of Broadcasting.
The INSINC Solution:
For broadband delivery provider INSINC, the solution was to create a delivery system that ensured Leafs TV had the necessary geographic restrictions that satisfied all the team’s and league’s concerns. Having adopted similar systems with other properties, INSINC proved to be a perfect partner in this pilot project.
“We were very aware of the possible pitfalls that could arise in these situations” acknowledged INSINC’s president Hugh Dobbie, “and were ready for any attempts that could potentially compromise the system”.
While limited in scope, the three game broadband-streamed pilot more than delivered on its promise of performance. On-line access was successfully limited to Leafs TV fans who resided within the team’s well-defined broadcast territory, easing both team and league concerns that on-line delivery of game day product would not compromise any pre-existing broadcast territorial agreements.
Leafs TV was able to demonstrate a market for enhanced interactive services, that included four additional camera angles, chat server and in game voting contests ($3.95/game) adding new revenue streams in the process.
“We were very pleased with the results” said Leafs TV manager of Internet Services, John McCauley, “and are eager to expand our online broadband profile in the upcoming season.”
As for INSINC, ensuring the online success of one of Canada’s leading sports brands is a win-win situation that will ultimately open up other sports and entertainment opportunities in the future.
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