PlayFullScreen.com is working its way towards streaming high definition to all Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) rinks.
Dave McIlroy, president of PlayFullScreen.com, says they are working in a phase of going from a standard to high definition stream.
“You almost think of it as turning up the volume,” says McIlroy. “Rather than just cranking it up to the highest speed, highest resolution possible, we’re going to crank it up little by little.”
In the summer, PlayFullScreen took a roadtrip to all KIJHL arenas, with the exception of Spokane due to timing and Spokane wasn’t ready when they were passing through the Kootenay region.
“It’s probably going to be a stretch to get all teams in HD this year,” says McIlroy, who explained the technical details behind it. “That doesn’t mean we won’t get there, it means we have to be realistic. That can simply be a matter of there is just not fast enough internet in one of buildings to accommodate the type of stream that is needed. There are five teams that are ready to go immediately and ready to send a HD stream.”
Last year, one club had the hardware capacity and was used as a pilot project to see what would happen. HD is kind of an unknown audience.
“It’s unfair to assume that everybody has at their home or wherever they are watching the game, has access to a broadband, very fast internet connection that can support a live high def stream,” says McIlroy. “Live streaming is very different than things like YouTube and Netflix. That’s where a lot of people get confused. Because they can watch lets say a video on YouTube or Netflix or something like that and it appears to them in high resolutions, that’s a different process. That is not a live stream. Live streaming is very susceptible network interruption.”
What makes PlayFullScreen.com, which launched in 2008, a strong product comes from their customer support.
“I think we have developed an exceptional reputation through customer service,” he says. “It’s been kind of the basis of our company all along. Our objective is to respond to customer inquiries as quickly as possible. On a live game day, ideally we would like to have customers questions responded to within a matter of two minutes.” Another aspect of their customer support is their hands-on approach with the broadcast crew at the arena.
“When there is an issue, often we recognize it before the crew might. We’re able to work with that. We can remotely log in and do some things. In other cases, if there is an issue, and somebody picks up a phone call, our objective is to have a live body answer that call right away.”
McIlroy started PlayFullScreen.com, which is viewed globally, after the company INSINC he co-founded in Burnaby in 1996, was purchased.
“I was always a firm believer that sports was going to be very popular on this platform as streaming media,” he says, adding he worked with hockey clubs before there was video.
Improvements made this season come from the technical visit. A goal set is having the time clock on display for all team broadcasts. McIlroy says that may not seem like much to a viewer at home, but when the coaches are reviewing video, it’s really important. Some clubs are experiencing struggles with it despite having the capabilities.
What everyone will be excited about is customers will start seeing the quality of more high definition streams by late October and November. The name PlayFullScreen comes from what the company was able to do at the start compared to competitors, which was push more video through a small internet stream. In 2008, streaming video was still evolving.
“Being able to play a video stream in the “full screen” mode was a rare novelty at that time,” he says, adding the name is a play on words. “How far we’ve come in 10 years.”
PlayFullScreen is proud to partner with the KIJHL. McIlroy felt this could be the cornerstone of the league.
“I think we are there now. The KIJHL has been a fantastic partner to work with,” he added.
“It’s great that PlayFullScreen is dedicated to providing the best product for our fans,” says KIJHL commissioner Larry Martel. “They are always looking to work with us, improving their technology so our fans get the best viewing experience.
“Our fans are across North America,” continued Martel. “Fans that can’t make it to games, can watch their team live. Our viewership is constantly climbing and it is a major part of our product.”
While the 25 games for $212.50 is the best value, McIlroy says those packages tend to be purchased at the start of the season. The one- and five-game ($45 total – $9/ a game) packages also sell well.