PVI Virtual Media Services

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PVI Virtual Media Services
Founded1990 (1990)

PVI Virtual Media Services is one of the companies behind the virtual yellow-down-line shown on television broadcasts of American football games in the United States and Canada.[1] Founded in 1990 as Princeton Electronic Billboard,[2] PVI Virtual Media Services was a wholly owned subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC)[3] with a research and operations facility in Lawrenceville, NJ before being acquired by ESPN[4] in December, 2010.


L-VIS displays a virtual TV screen showing the Defensive Line Up during the Fox broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIII.

The company pioneered the vision-based, match moving technology that allows the virtual insertion of images and video into broadcast video signals in real time, i.e., while the program is being broadcast. In addition to the virtual yellow down line, the technology has been used to place virtual advertising in broadcasts of soccer,[5] baseball,[6][7] ice hockey games[8] and, more controversially, on some TV news shows, including the CBS 2000 New Year's Eve show when an NBC logo behind Dan Rather in Times Square, NY, was covered over with a virtual CBS logo.[9][10]

Originally marketed as L-VIS (Live Video Insertion System), their systems are now called inVU systems to emphasize their use of pattern recognition of images, and that motion sensors are not required on the broadcast cameras that the system is working with.[citation needed]


The company was founded as Princeton Electronic Billboard (PEB) in 1990 by Roy Rosser and Brown Williams, based on patents on match moving enhancements filed by Roy Rosser.[11][12] Brown Williams had been a senior manager at David Sarnoff Research Center (now part of SRI International) and knew that they had developed advanced, vision based pattern recognition and tracking technology for various U.S. defense agencies. A contract was placed with Sarnoff to develop a prototype that was delivered in early 1994. Although the prototype showed great promise in the laboratory, it proved wholly inadequate when tried out at the Baltimore Orioles 1994 season opener.

Roy Rosser and a small team of programmers and consultants spent the next 18 months re-engineering the system, inventing novel methods and algorithms of pattern recognition and tracking[13][14] so that the match making could work to the standards required by TV broadcasters under the variable conditions of a real game using the computing power then available.[15] In July 1995, the system was first used to place virtual advertising behind home plate on a cable broadcast of a Trenton Thunders game. Later in the year, the L-VIS system was used to provide Parmalat virtual advertising in the center-circle of a soccer pitch during the Parmalat Cup played at the NJ Meadowlands Stadium. In April 1996, the San Francisco Giants became the first Major League Baseball team to regularly use the L-VIS system for virtual insertions for their home games at Candlestick Park.

On April 16, 2004, PVI aired Strike Zone, High Home Cam, and Ball Tracer on Fox's prime time broadcast of a New York YankeesBoston Red Sox game. However, Fox retired those three graphics after the prime time telecast.

In December 2010, PVI was acquired by ESPN. The R&D team moved from the old Lawrenceville NJ office to a new office building near the Hamilton train station. The team continued the effort of inserting virtual graphics in sports broadcasting. College Football, Basketball, Baseball, NBA production at ESPN uses vMagic for many different effects.

On July 20, 2017, ESPN announces to the PVI team that their jobs are eliminated and the office is closed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] "Hut, hut, HD: CBS signs on for one HD NFL telecast a week while ABC begins new MNF season in HD" Ken Kerschbaumer, Broadcasting & Cable. 2003.
  2. ^ [2] RESPONSIBLE PARTY/BROWN WILLIAMS; Placing Products, Digitally, on TV, by Kathleen Carroll in the NY Times, October 14, 2001
  3. ^ [3] "BRIEFING: BUSINESS; VIDEO IMAGE COMPANY" by John Holl. New York Times, February 11, 2001
  4. ^ [4] ESPN Buys PVI Intellectual Property From Cablevision
  5. ^ [5] "Princeton Video Image Endorses FIFA Subcommittee Recommendation to Allow Virtual Advertising During Televised Soccer Games." Business Wire, 1999
  6. ^ Dickson, Glen. "S.F. Giants adopt electronic billboards; SportsChannel, KTVU to air virtual ads" Broadcasting & Cable. 1996
  7. ^ "PVI and Major League Baseball International Team up Again for Virtual Advertising in 2009 World Baseball Classic." Business Wire. 2009
  8. ^ [6] "PVI enters strategic alliance with digital media platform" Sports Marketing. 2001
  9. ^ [7] "On CBS News, Some of What You See Isn't There," Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, January 12, 2000
  10. ^ [8] CBS Is Divided Over the Use Of False Images In Broadcasts by Bill Carter, New York Times, January 13, 2000
  11. ^ [9] US Patent 5,264,933 Television displays having selected inserted indicia
  12. ^ [10] Is It Live, Or Is It Princeton Video? PVI may have invented virtual advertising, but the company's slow start gave competitors some real openings” By Abby Schultz FORTUNE, July 1, 2000 (FORTUNE Small Business)
  13. ^ [11] US Patent 5,808,695 "Method of tracking scene motion for live video insertion systems"
  14. ^ [12] US Patent 5,627,915 Pattern recognition system employing unlike templates to detect objects having distinctive features in a video field
  15. ^ Sportvision, Inc. and Fox Sports Productions, Inc. v. Princeton Video Image, Inc., Civil Action No. 99-CV-20998 (N.D. Cal.)

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