In a move to grab a share of the budding market for delivering television content over the Internet, Raleigh, N.C.-based Capitol Broadcasting is partnering with technology firm Decisionmark to demonstrate the ability of a broadcast station to stream its programming over the Internet while limiting its availability to its local television market.
Dubbed the "Apollo Project" and launching today at WRAL Raleigh, the test will use Decisionmark’s "Air to Web Broadcast Replication Technology" to show how broadcasters can limit the delivery of live video to computers within its DMA by using the same sort of signal-reception information that Decisionmark currently provides to broadcasters and DBS operators for compliance with the Satellite Home Viewers Act limitations on the importation of broadcast signals.
Potential Internet viewers will enter their street address, and the Decisionmark software will check whether that home falls within the Grade B coverage map of WRAL's signal. Once verified, WRAL will be able to stream to that local PC while actively tracking Internet viewing in its market.
"As a broadcaster, I broadcast my signal and you can pick it up with an antenna, look at it on cable, and look at it on satellite," says Capitol President Jim Goodmon. "I would like for people to be able to look at it on the Internet, too---not the Internet in China, but the Internet in our coverage area."
Goodmon’s hope is that the trial will serve as a "proof of concept" for how local broadcasters can retain their audience on the Internet amidst new competition from alternative delivery systems like iTunes and Google Video, which are currently allowing networks like ABC, NBC and CBS to sell their programming directly to consumers while bypassing local affiliates.
Capitol and other broadcasters who stream local news and other self-produced content on the Internet can’t currently offer network and syndicated programming because they can’t protect the copyrights of the program producers.
But by limiting the Internet delivery of WRAL's signal to its local DMA, the Decisionmark trial will show networks like CBS how they can partner with local affiliates while still reaching an Internet audience, says Goodmon.
Goodmon has contacted CBS about offering network programming in the WRAL trial, but has yet to receive permission due to copyright concerns.
"What everybody is talking about is networks selling video-on-demand on the Internet that’s different from the time it airs live on the network," says Goodmon. "You can buy CSI two days later and it also goes anywhere in the world. What we are saying to the network is that we can help you sell this product. Let us sell it for you in our markets, in our coverage area, using the Decisionmark system."
With that in mind, WRAL also plans to offer some file downloads using the Decisionmark system to show a similar application to iTunes and Google Video, which currently allow consumers to purchase network programming for viewing on PCs, laptops and portable media devices.
The first stage of the trial will allow WRAL employees to watch the station’s content both in real time and on-demand. Then, the trial will be broadened to viewers throughout the Raleigh market. The station hopes to eventually offer CBS programming online, too, pending the network’s approval.
Decisionmark had first talked publicly about its Air to Web technology, which it is now marketing as "TitanCast," in Congressional testimony last spring.
The concept has gained new traction from the wave of Internet video deals announced over the past few months, and the company has spent those last few months meeting with station groups, network affiliate boards and major networks, including ABC, to shop the technology.
"We’re in discussions with just about everyone in the business," says Decisionmark CEO Jack Perry.
CBS had no comment.