WorldNow, which has made its name helping TV stations establish a more effective presence on the Internet, has created The Video Producer, a broadband video streaming system that the company says will help stations and networks incorporate video into their sites.
Video is the real differentiator for local broadcast Web sites, WorldNow President Mark Zagorski opines, adding that, as broadband usage continues to grow, it will be an increasingly important way for people to fulfill their online news fix.
"We've provided easy-to-use streaming applications for local broadcasters who have used our Web platform for the last four years," he says. "This is just the latest progression of that technology that we are now offering to both our partner stations and even those who may not use our full platform"
The system is based on the Windows Media 9 format and also uses server technology from Akamai and Speedera. Instead of being stored at the station, video content is stored on WorldNow servers at various bit rates (from 16 to 290 kbps). When a request is made, the requested file is sent to a server on Akamai's network. That approach reduces the server burden on the station and also speeds the delivery time.
"One of the challenges for stations has always been managing the fluctuating costs of streaming, which in the past meant paying more as you were more successful," says Zagorski. "We have fixed, flat monthly fees that include flexible amounts of bandwidth, maintenance and storage."
The system interface provides the user with controls, the ability to e-mail video and even the ability to manage a playlist. The user can select the stories or videos to see, and the clips are then assembled into a playlist in the order selected.
Zagorski believes that station sales teams and advertisers will like the system because of the opportunities it provides. There is an integrated 120x60-pixel ad unit on the upper right and an integrated 480x60 unit at the bottom.
"It really complements their on-air advertising-sales strategy as it provides a new venue to distribute their video content in the context of a relevant advertiser," says Zagorski.
The system is currently available to all 130+ stations using WorldNow's Web publishing platform. Zagorski expects to have about 60 stations using the video platform next year.