Waiting for U-Verse in Austin

I spent part of Sunday (a very small part) watching the Daytona 500 with my dad, who happens to have a subscription to DirectTV’s HotPass service. For those of you who aren’t rabid Nascar fans, HotPass allows a viewer to select a radio channel for a particular driver and hear what he and his pit crew are saying. The service broadcasts the radio channel as well as a variety of camera angles.

It’s was pretty cool, but all I could think of was a demonstration of AT&T’s IPTV service a few years ago. During a demo, I “watched” a snippet of a baseball game in which I could choose the camera angles and see stats running along the screen. The HotPass service was similar in look, but you can’t choose which camera angles you get.

Despite those limits, the service was a cool foreshadowing of what could be potentially game-changing technology — if the technological stars align, that is. IPTV, with its almost infinite number of channels available on demand, needs to be deployed. The content providers need to figure out the legal ramifications of allowing people to customize their content as well as what people might want to see. Finally, the networks need to figure out ways to broadcast multiple IP data streams from a live event.

If all this comes together, March Madness a few years from now could be sweet. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for U-Verse to make it to my section of Austin.