NAB 2008: Thomson Touts MediaFuse, Partners with WorldNow

Las Vegas -- Thomson Grass Valley’s big 2008 NAB Show news is MediaFuse, a software add-on to its Ignite automated production system that will allow broadcast stations to quickly repurpose their newscasts for Web distribution.

The company also announced Saturday at its press event here that it teamed up with Internet-video-publishing specialist WorldNow, which operates Web sites for more than 350 stations, to integrate the new product with WorldNow’s software.

Last year, Thomson said it was working on a way for Ignite -- a system that uses software to automate many functions of a newscast -- to quickly take news segments and turn them around for Web distribution, a process that has usually required lengthy transcoding and dedicated staff. Alex Holtz, general manager for the Ignite product line, said MediaFuse delivers on that promise by letting stations automatically segment, encode and process news video for the Web.

“This is a recipe for additional broadcast revenue and additional brand awareness,” Holtz added. (To watch a video interview with Alex Holtz,click here.)

The system will let stations turn around a news segment for Web on-demand distribution within minutes, he said, and could even let stations that choose to stream their newscast live insert different commercials in the Web streams.

A significant piece of the MediaFuse system is FuseProduce, an Active X software plug-in that acts as a “preproduction interface” with newsroom computer systems such as ENPS and iNews. It lets producers working on their newsroom computer system scroll through a newscast’s rundown, either before or after the newscast airs, and designate individual segments for Web distribution.

Since so many stations use WorldNow to produce their Web sites, Thomson developed a custom interface between Ignite and WorldNow’s software that lets the Ignite system automatically “hand off” video to WorldNow. The companies first agreed to integrate their technology a year ago after discussions held at NAB, and they are demonstrating the result of that engineering work in both of their booths at this year’s show.

“It’s a strategic agreement to increase the value and decrease the cost of repurposing content,” said WorldNow strategy advisor Tom Guzik. “It provides us with additional ability to do it much better, and much faster.”

This year's NAB exhibition comes at a difficult time for Thomson. As noted in a story in The Wall Street Journal Monday, the French conglomerate has faced pressure from shareholders to improve its financial performance by better integrating its disparate businesses, which include the Grass Valley broadcast business, the Technicolor film-processing division and a European-focused set-top business. Former CEO Frank Dangeard, who spearheaded the company's push to become an all-encompassing video-solutions provider, stepped down as the company's chairman last week.

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.