Service Offers Clips for Station Web Sites

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As local broadcasters hunt for ways to grow their online business, a new video-syndication service offers a model to turn stations’ news archives into a revenue stream. ClipSyndicate, scheduled to be launched April 24 by broadcast-monitoring company Critical Mention, will distribute stations’ video to non-media Web sites. So far, Clear Channel Television has signed on to the service, which allows Web sites to subscribe to free video—which comes with ads—or subscribe and insert their own advertising. Critical Mention and stations will split the revenue.

TV stations are trying "to find ways to monetize clips in the Internet," says Sean Morgan, founder/CEO of Critical Mention. The appeal for clients, he adds, is "Web sites with or without budgets are jockeying to find a great, simple solution to rebroadcast clips."

On Clear Channel’s Web sites, users watch about 4 million streams per month, says Jason Gould, regional VP for the Internet division, Inergize. But to grow, he says, "we have to look beyond our distribution model." For example, ClipSyndicate will target non-profits and professional associations’ Web sites. "That’s not our area of expertise."

Clear Channel sees some of its stories as having national appeal. For instance, around St. Patrick’s Day, its Mobile, Ala., station’s Web site offered a news story about residents’ seeing a leprechaun and notched 800,000 video streams. If the piece went on ClipSyndicate, "it probably would have seen millions of streams," Gold says.

So far, ClipSyndicate has signed several subscription clients, including firehouse.com, an online community for firefighters. The Web site will take relevant clips, which can be found in a simple, text-based search. (Critical Mention will use voice-to-text software to create a transcript of clips for easier searches.) Subscription customers, such as firehouse.com, will be able to insert their own banner ads and pre-roll video. When a Web site takes free video, it will come loaded with ads inserted by Critical Mention.

But the service will not be available to other media companies. ClipSyndicate stations, Morgan says, "are not going to want to watch their clips on other broadcasters’ or newspapers’ Web sites."

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