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The multi-channel, traditional TV entertainment universe is seriously old hat. Just ask Dave McIlroy. Then ask him what’s in store for the future. By Phillip Raphael - South Delta Leader 

“You’ll be able to watch anything you want, anywhere, anytime,” says the Tsawwassen-based president of 777online.com which is working on bringing that future to today’s marketplace, allowing pretty much anyone to broadcast video over the Internet to audiences they could hardly have imagined a generation ago.

McIlroy provided a glimpse of that future last weekend when he used a software program he developed called mediaManager to stream video on the Internet of the Major Midget ice hockey playoffs as well as the Jr. B Cyclone Taylor Cup game.

It was the latest triumph for the software which is helping make video broadcasts possible for groups such as UBC’s baseball team, Basketball BC and the University of Victoria to name a few.

McIlroy says there are educational applications as well and is keen to bring the software into play, especially in the Delta School District. “I read a quote in the paper (South Delta Leader) where Delta School District Supt. Steve Cardwell said he envisioned students being able to take their laptop out and sit under the oak tree,” McIlroy says. “I called Steve and said I have the software to make that happen.”

While that future has appeal and creates excitement, making it fit into a business model can be a challenge. In terms of the recent junior hockey broadcasts, an advertising sponsor ran commercials during the game that was provided free of charge to viewers on the Internet. “The advertiser was a hockey school (spihockey.com) run by former Vancouver Canuck Cliff Ronning,” McIlroy says. “He knew he was getting a targeted audience.” And that can provide a win-win situation as the event being broadcast in cyberspace is available to an infinitely wider audience and the supporting advertiser can rely on capturing a focused market. “What happened when the Vancouver Canucks started televising all their games—they began selling out GM Place because they were getting their product out in front of many more people,” McIlroy says, adding he is hoping to strike an agreement to broadcast Delta Ice Hawks’ games next season.

But what will the future mean for regular TV watchers who like to cozy up on the sofa and watch their favourite program at a time designated by the cable channel? Thanks to PVRs (personal video recorder) some of that is already gone by the wayside as viewers are recording and watching their shows on their own time schedule. “And cable companies are addicted to collecting that $80 or so a month from their subscribers, so they will adjust,” McIlroy says. “So, don’t cut your (TV cable) chord yet.” McIlroy adds studies show more people than ever are turning away from traditional TV and are turning to the Internet to watch their favourite shows. Web viewership in the U.S. passed 100 million in January and Internet users account for over 14.8 billion videos watched. Marketers are picking up on this trend and will spend $850 million on video ads this year, McIlroy says.