Canadian company thinks time is finally here for its tech
SportsBusiness JOURNAL - The promise of providing multiple camera angles.
By John Durand, Staff Writer
Published August 31, 2015,
The promise of providing multiple camera angles that allow viewers to control the video feeds they watch has been around for decades. But these types of second-screen services have never been popular, partly because of too many clunky experiences where one feed is not synced up with the next. YouSwitch Technologies, a two-person Canadian company with annual revenue of less than $1 million, believes it has "cracked the code" and says it has patented software that will allow leagues and networks to give viewers the option to use multiple angles if they want them.
The company signed deals with UEFA, which is testing the software for some of its European soccer games, and beIN Sports. But You-Switch is preparing for a bigger commercial rollout and is ready to hit the U.S. market in the hopes of getting U.S. sports leagues and networks to sign on. as well
"We're trying to get one of those hallmark leagues to embrace our technology." said Stephane Boisvert, a strategic consultant with YouSwitch. "I think were at the tipping point of finally having a league say. The timing is great and our customers want it.-
The timing has been almost seven years in coming. YouSwitch CEO Stephane Lestage started the companyin November 2008 with his friend Martin Fontaine, who is the company's principal shareholder. At the time, Lestage was working as the director of operations of video-on-demand for the Canadian cable operator Videotron.
Lestage's background is in television postproduction work, and he came up with an idea to create a software program that would synchronize multiple feeds in such a way that would allow for multiple camera angles to run seamlessly. Essentially, Lestage simplified the system used to deliver multiple camera angles to consumers. Rather than trying to add time codes to the video streams, which is a complicated process. Lestage synced all the needed feeds through his software.
Sports network RDF has used YouSwitch's multi-camera technology on broadcasts of Montreal Canadiens games.
"I got the idea to put all the images together and restructure it in a geometric way into the software," Lestage said. 'This recipe for me was so simple. I wasn't even thinking that I could patent it But apparently I could, so I did. That's why we're talking today."
■ WHAT THEY DO Software developer that allows for multple camera angle services. ■ LAUNCHED: November 2008
■ HEADQUARTERS: Montreal ■ NO. OF EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time employ-ees: 6 consultants and freelancers
KEY EXECUTIVES: ■ MARTIN FONTAINE, principal shareholder ■ STEPHANE LESTAGE, CEO KEY CLIENTS: • UEFA ■ beIN Sports
Lestage kept YouSwitch running as a side business while working at Videotron. This gave him more time to develop the application and allowed him to bide his time till the point when Internet video could handle the service. "When we launched in 2008, the video business and the Internet weren't quite there yet," he said.
Early on, Fontaine and Lestage cut a couple of smallerdeals to test his software, such as one with the French-language sports network RDF that used YouSwitch for about a dozen Montreal Canadiens hockey games.
Lestage said that he was enthused by the results. But he encountered another roadblock in the marketplace. Leagues, like the NHL, started keeping their Internet rights in-house, meaning that the network relationships he was developing would not be as useful.
In 2012, the company closed a relatively small round of financing with smaller funds and angel investors, and Fontaine and Lestage began to explore ways to build YouSwitch's business.
One way was to get Lestage to devote his full attention to the company. He would leave Videotron in April 2013, bring Boisvert on board as a strategic consultant soon after and reach out to former league and network executives in the United States to gauge their reactions to the software. The feedback, Lestage said, was mostly positive and he thought the time finally was right to try to expand the business.
"The demand for this kind of interface has probably been there for two or three years now," Lestage said.
YouSwitch is about to close on a round of Series A financing, which will bring in less than $10 million, revenue that it will use to market the technology to U.S. leagues and teams.
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