Waiting for the rush

Broadcast-technology manufacturers that jumped on the Internet shift focus
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Broadcast-technology companies have discovered that ambitious business plans based on selling Internet-related products have found slow going in broadcast, requiring the companies to retrench and attack the market from a differnent angle. Some have gone back to the drawing board; others are sticking with their original products but selling them to different customers from those they had initially envisioned.

At Chyron, for example, the difficulties in the market have caused the company to migrate from an Internet-services strategy that included Web-site hosting and distribution to one focusing on interactive content production, according to Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rich Hajdu. And it's working. Last week, the company announced a deal with PBS whereby Chryon's Lyric iTV product will be used to create interactive content for 13 episodes of Life 360.

Chyron's efforts to tap into the Internet market are indicative of many manufacturer forays. In 1999, the company introduced Clarinet, a streaming encoder for Real and Windows media players. A year later, predicting success as an online-service provider, it formed the Chyron Streaming Services division. That division closed its doors last April.

Now the company is refocusing its effort on interactive television. Its graphics software is now available in a version designed to output graphics that incorporate HTML tags ($7,995 for a basic configuration to $84,000 for a full-featured Duet HD system). The company also has software to insert ITV hooks into character-generated graphics.

The broadcast business will come. Greg Lowitz, general manager of Pinnacle's Broadband Solutions division, says the challenge for broadcasters remains figuring out how to produce content once and distribute it to multiple media simultaneously.

The latest Internet system from Pinnacle is the StreamFactory X2 Pro, a Web encoder for just under $20,000. It features analog and digital audio connections and support for all digital video formats.

E-StudioLive, formerly known as production- switcher manufacturer EchoLab, began marketing an all-in-one live Internet production system (which includes the Echolab digital production switcher) in 1999.

"Our initial approach was to sell to broadcasters, corporations and universities, but the broadcast piece hasn't developed as quickly as we'd like," says Ken Swanton, chairman of the board at e-StudioLive.

Swanton expects broadcasters to embrace systems like the $75,000 e-StudioLive 7000, which features a Windows NT-based, multiple-input switcher, server, encoder, and DVE.

Ross Summers, director of product development for the Internet at Grass Valley Group, says that, although the market for broadcast streaming is tough right now, the company's Web strategy has not changed drastically.

GVG points to its WebAble software as a way to streamline the process for getting content on the Web. It's designed for users of the GVG Profile XP media server, digital switchers and video router products and allows video and audio signals to be sent to air and over the Internet simultaneously.

The Web strategy at Parkervision, says President Richard Sisisky, is to automate the process and keep costs down. The company has introduced a new option for its PVTV automated live-news production system, called WEBstation for News, that will ship by April 2002. He says the module saves newsroom resources by automatically repurposing TV content for the Web. The product is now beta-testing at WAWS-TV, Clear Channel's Fox affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla.

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