|WebTV ANNOUNCES VIDEO TECHNOLOGY
Software Upgrade to Bring TV-Quality Video to WebTV Subscribers
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (January 8, 1997) - WebTV Networks, Inc. today announced
a new high-quality video technology that should change the nature of the
Internet viewing experience. The patent-pending technology, called WebTV
VideoFlash TM, bridges the gap between the Internet and television by providing
an unprecedented full-screen, television-quality video capability from
the Internet through conventional phone lines. The new technology will
be demonstrated for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas this week. Demonstrations will be shown in WebTV Networks' consumer
electronics licensees' booths, Philips Consumer Electronic Company (#643)
and Sony Electronics Inc. (#N109.)
In contrast to conventional Internet video technology, VideoFlash technology
provides a level of video quality comparable to standard television and,
utilizing the WebTV NetworkSM online service, is capable of providing significantly
faster download times. VideoFlash technology will allow WebTV TM subscribers
to view movie trailers, TV show previews, news clips, advertising and animation,
all at a much higher resolution than has previously existed. Also, leading
content providers can now achieve much higher production values on the
"VideoFlash is the first Internet video technology that will allow
National Geographic to deliver a visual experience on the Internet comparable
to the imagery, drama and depth we offer with our television programming,"
said Larry Lux, vice president of National Geographic Interactive.
Although video clips are currently available on the Internet, even the
fastest modems generally take one-half hour to download a 30-second, grainy,
low-frame rate video clip that plays in a tiny window on the computer monitor.
Streaming video through a phone line is of even lower quality and in even
smaller windows. User testing has shown that television viewers had little
interest in such low-quality video because of the image quality they have
come to expect from a television.
"In 1996, WebTV brought Internet capability to the television,"
said Steve Perlman, co-founder, president and CEO of WebTV Networks Inc.
"In 1997, with VideoFlash technology, WebTV will bring television
capability to the Internet."
VideoFlash technology was developed by Peter Barrett, WebTV Networks research
fellow and inventor of CinepakTM, the de facto standard video format used
by Internet developers today, and by Bruce Leak, co-founder and COO of
WebTV Networks and creator of another multimedia standard, Apple QuickTime
®. VideoFlash, the first video format to bring low-cost, high-quality video
technology to the Internet, marks another milestone in the evolution of
The new technology will download automatically to all WebTV subscribers
as part of a regular software upgrade later this year. Current WebTVTM
Internet Terminal units, manufactured and distributed nationwide by Sony
and Philips, were designed to support VideoFlash technology.
VideoFlash technology adds to WebTV Networks' broad intellectual property
portfolio of the fundamental technologies needed for Internet television.
WebTV Networks is the developer of the WebTVTM Reference Design and WebTV
Network online service that delivers the Internet through television. WebTV
Internet Terminal units are currently available at consumer electronics
Founded in June 1995 by Steve Perlman, Bruce Leak and Phil Goldman, WebTV
Networks is dedicated to bringing high-quality, affordable Internet access
to television consumers through integrated, easy-to-use, standards-based
technologies and services. WebTV Networks is based in Palo Alto, Calif.
NOTE TO EDITORS: If you are interested in receiving additional information
on WebTV Networks, please visit their Web site at http://webtv.net