African-American software developer and technologist Jason A. Swanston has come up with a new way for you to watch TV. ?He’s looking to revolutionize the industry with his OVNIO TV, which is an interactive cable TV social network. Basically, you can customize your viewing as well as view TV on the go–via your various digital devices. OVNIO stands for OpenVision Networks International Online.
TNJ.com found out more about OVNIO TV.
TNJ.com: ?What prompted the idea?
Jason A. Swanston: OVNIO TV is an interactive cable TV social network. The idea was prompted because I wanted to build an interactive cable network online that allowed my friends and I to socialize simultaneously while watching live TV channels (of our liking). The cable companies today aren’t all la carte inclusive and OVNIO allows subscribers to choose channels and friends. OVNIO also allows users to purchase products from the content without leaving the web window like sites like HULU and Youtube force you to. The magic of OVNIO is that users don’t have to go outside of the web window to connect with multiple experiences. For example, you can watch a TV show and connect with your friends on 40-plus popular social sites and Skype at the same time. With OVNIO, the subscriber is fully engaged, entertained and submerged in a new way to watch TV online. We call it, OVNIO.
TNJ.com: How is it funded?
JS: OVNIO TV leases time slots and channels to the international film and TV marketplace. International content providers see OVNIO as a global cable network that can reach viewers in more spaces (i.e. mobile, tablet, laptop) than in homes.
TNJ.com: What have been some of the challenges?
JS: I think the major challenge has been to test OVNIO’s service in remote areas in different countries. Seeing whether a city in India can receive the OVNIO channels with low Internet speed was painstaking. (laughs) We overcame that issue in the end, which is rooted in our proprietary technology. Another issue was buffering; I figured out how to minimize the buffering issue for users of OVNIO TV. ?I overcame this issue by testing and more testing in certain areas (globally) and creating a configuration software that marries with users existing software embedded in their “Internet-connected” devices.
TNJ.com: Why should someone use this service?
JS: The reason someone will use OVNIO TV is quite simple: It’s easy to use and access, if you’re a novice to Internet; you don’t have to download a media player to watch our channels; it’s entertaining, like cable, but with more interactive features; OVNIO users can connect their laptops, desktops, mobile and tablets to their flatscreens at home and replace OVNIO service for their cable subscription, among other reasons.
Last but not least, users get to buy “stuff” from the TV shows, film, and music videos from the OVNIO TV channels.
TNJ.com: You will be competing against major players. How will you stand out?
JS: My team and I truly don’t see OVNIO as a competitor in the cable marketplace within the U.S., only because we have years before people truly cut out their cable subscriptions. At the moment, there are 5 million people who don’t have cable subscriptions in the U.S. and that’s not saying much. Our target is the user overseas who loves to watch TV and be social. As for the cable customer in U.S., they would use OVNIO as an extension of their cable experience with the ability to be social, interactive and have the instant ability to buy in real-time. OVNIO will stand out primarily because the service is truly engaging, easy, and entertaining with a cost that will beat any expensive cable package internationally.
TNJ.com: What has been the most important business lesson you have learned in this venture?
JS: (Laughs) A lot. But the most important lesson for me as an African-American software developer and technologist is people will never believe you unless you show them that your product works. At first, I truly thought that people would resist my technology because of my race and the fact that there aren’t any young guys from the inner-city writing software. As I walk this path of software creativity with my dad as my partner, I’ve learned that people will only gravitate to true creativity, discipline, consistency and tangibles. That’s what I have and what my father has instilled in me to have, especially because this type of breakthrough has never been done from someone like me, globally.