Online video has been in the mainstream for seven years now. Surprisingly, it has yet to make any impact on the broadcast television industry. That’s about to change with StationCreator.
The elevator pitch is simple: run your own TV station online by inputting the URL of any public web video or live stream, and scheduling it to run at a specific time. StationCreator empowers anyone with a desire to curate and run their own broadcast TV network online for free (including of course TV networks themselves).
StationCreator is the idea of Jon Labes who worked with me at Wallstrip and most recently at Stocktwits, before convincing Tom and I at Social Leverage to incubate and invest in his vision. I love the web video space as much as Jon. I have investments in Tubemogul, Videolicious, and Ontheair as well. StationCreator is working on a huge vision. Last week Jon went to the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas to show off the brand new product. Michael Rosenblum, co-founder of CurrentTV (with Al Gore and Joel Hyatt) had this to say about the product:
This is a very cool bit of tech that allows anyone to create their own TV network online.
And it seems to do pretty much all the stuff that the ‘big boys’ are selling for many millions of dollars.
Well, that’s technology for you.
Maybe the Great Content Shift is more about everyone making their own TV network for free, as opposed to paying out millions of dollars to old analog tech firms to try and do it for you? Could be.
In the meantime, maybe David Zazlov, the CEO at Discovery Networks should give Jon Labes a call.
According to Nielsen, the average US household watches online video for 27 minutes per week. Compare that to 35 hours per week the same US household watches broadcast TV. 35 hours! You can see where we’re going with this. Broadcast television is a global phenomenon, reaching 99% of the world’s population. Over the past 60 years, tuning into channels of continuous video has become highly addictive learned behavior for nearly every human on earth.
It’s no wonder the general consensus about online video is that it is hard to find “good” content. Online video is built entirely around search. Once you find what you’re looking for, then what? With traditional broadcast television, watching video is a refined, user-friendly experience: turn on your TV, and video comes to you. It doesn’t matter what plays, because the viewer understands the reputation of the broadcaster, who puts a stamp of approval on content simply by playing it on their channel. If watching TV is eating at a four-star restaurant, then finding something good to watch on YouTube is dumpster diving.
StationCreator recreates the broadcast television format using online video. Today they’ve launched the first version of the platform for broadcasters to curate online TV stations, which can be embedded in a custom player on their site, blog, Facebook page, or anywhere else HTML is accepted. Sure, this is exciting stuff, but what really motivates the StationCreator team to get out of bed every morning is what they’re releasing next: a portal for watching online television. Ostensibly, a more advanced version of cable television. Online. For free.
The fact that the videos playing on these “tv stations” are hosted on web services like YouTube, Vimeo, Livestream or Ustream is not important. Sure you could go watch the same video there at its source. The problem is that each video on the web is a one-off experience. When it ends, the user needs to take action to watch something else. That action is usually searching for another video. Want to watch a video hosted on a different sharing site? You’ll need to go to a whole new site and begin the process over again.
The world is clamoring for free TV, and increasingly desiring it on computers, smartphones, and tablets. Cable TV is too expensive, and your dinner is hot and on the table. Would you like to search for a specific video, or would you like to tune into a channel where a publisher you trust curates a continuous schedule of videos they want you to watch?
What’s going to be on internet TV you ask? Take a moment to think about everyone in the world who can’t afford the tens of millions of dollars to operate a terrestrial TV station, but has interest in running one. Print media publications, organizations of all kinds, retailers, entertainers, bloggers, and any individual who thinks they have great taste would run their own TV station if cost were removed as a barrier to entry. When you turn on internet TV later this year, you will be surprised by the channels you’ll watch, flipping between legendary rock concerts, world news, the political candidate you support, a famous comedian’s favorite TV episodes, and a live stream of the local high school’s football game.
The internet is full of good videos. StationCreator is where we want you to tune into them.