& Blackhawks Push Technology with Podcast Videos, a leading Web site design, development, hosting, and maintenance company based in Park Ridge, Illinois, and the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks have brought iPod Video to the fans of the Blackhawks.

The Chicago Blackhawks are the first NHL team and first major professional sports team in the United States to provide their fans with Podcast video clips. As with the standard audio only Podcasts, fans simply sign up for the feed and the video clips are downloaded automatically for them. Of course, if they do not have an iPod with video capabilities the videos can still be viewed with iTunes or an assortment of other players. The Blackhawks are offering this incredible service free to anyone who signs up.

Podcasts are quickly becoming a staple of sports teams as it enables them to reach their fans, at the convenience of the fans. While iPod clearly dominates the market as the player of choice for listening to Podcasts, they can be listened to in many other players. Teams are putting out player interviews, press conferences, weekly shows, and much more as Podcasts for their fans. The Blackhawks produce a weekly Podcast called HawkCast, which debuted on Aug. 29. Available every Friday, the 15-20 minute show features the latest news on the team, player interviews, coach and management interviews and much more.

"We're very excited to be the first team in professional sports to offer fans the ability to watch post-game coverage and other video features on their iPods," said Blackhawks web producer Adam Kempenaar. "When Apple released the new iPod with video, we recognized that it would provide another great opportunity to communicate directly with our fans and give them exclusive content that they can watch at their convenience. The HawkCast Video feature will be a nice complement to the weekly Podcast we currently produce."

iPod Video takes Podcasting to a completely new level. With video fans will be able to view highlight reels for each game, watch interviews and press conferences, and in the future possibly watch an entire game or portions of a game. Video Podcasts can offer either an MPEG-4 or H.264 video for their fans with.m4v, .mp4, and .mov as the formats of choice at 30 frames per second. H.264 video offers speeds up to 768 Kbps, sizes up to 320 x 240 pixels and a baseline profile up to level 1.3. MPEG-4 video offers speeds Up to 2.5 Mbps, sizes up to 480 x 480 pixels, and simple profile. Both can offer incredible stereo audio at 160 Kbps.

What is the benefit to the Blackhawks offering this service? Of course, fan loyalty and increased interest is the driving force as with any decision made on the Web site. In addition, sponsorship revenue could increase greatly through a presenting sponsor and fans having to view the sponsor's logo and a short pre or post roll commercial. It also lets the fans know the Blackhawks are evolving with technology as quickly as the fans are. Blackhawks' Podcast information can be found on their Web site at