Spreading News Quickly on the Web

Critical Media, a New York-based search and information service, is launching a new syndication platform for local news content on the Web to complement its ClipSyndicate service.

The new platform tool, called Syndicaster, allows transcription of video moments after it airs, giving Critical Media's ClipSyndicate subscribers the ability to easily cut and paste segments, with video attached, for immediate dissemination to thousands of Websites.

A local news segment on diabetes, for instance, could be sent to myriad general health Websites and niche sites specializing in information about the disease.

ClipSyndicate's content providers, which includes more than 300 local stations, will have access to the Syndicaster platform. The tool could drastically cut down the time and manpower it takes to get content from stations to myriad Websites.

The new tool aims to facilitate new revenue streams in the form of embedded audience-relevant advertising. Right now, that can be an expensive proposition.

“One station group that has five stations is paying $25,000 a month in licensing fees plus having an employee at each one who is dedicated to taking video and getting it on the Web,” says Sean Morgan, president of Critical Media (www.criticalmediainc.com).

That's not exactly a cost-effective structure. The Syndicaster platform grew out of the biggest obstacle in launching ClipSyndicate: getting digitized video quickly.

“I would come in to the office in the morning and we wouldn't even have [the local stations'] clips from the 11 o'clock news from the night before,” says Morgan. “At 10 in the morning, we're just getting their 6 a.m. news clips. At about 4 in the afternoon we're just getting their noon news. So, I called up all of our top station groups and I said, 'Guys, what's with the friction here? How come it's taking you so long to get your content off the air?' It doesn't even get onto their own Website fast. It's news. It's got a shelf life of like eight hours.”

Station managers are curious about how it will work.

“As much as we would like everyone to visit our [local station] sites,” says Gene Hogsett, director of digital media and new technologies for Sunbelt Communications, “that's just not realistically going to happen. So, I have to find various places to get our content out to, and the best way to do that.”

Sunbelt has 15 stations including NBC affiliates in Las Vegas and Reno, Nev., and Yuma, Ariz. Hogsett said that Critical Media's Syndicaster platform is one of several initiatives he's investigating.

“The industry is still figuring out where it's going digitally,” he says. “Finding something that's flexible and scalable is important.”

Critical Media is working on amassing ad partners and getting local stations onboard. Morgan hopes to fully roll out the platform in the next several months.