Broadcast Photos To Cable TV

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CNET's Getting Its Groove

We’ve been tracking SimpleStar’s PhotoShow since Brian Ascher, a general partner at Venrock Associates, mentioned them in passing over lunch a couple of months ago. The hook? He said “Imagine if you could watch your friends’ Flickr pictures or YouTube videos on a dedicated cable television channel.” No need to get your grandmother online. Just point her to channel 917 and she can see your most recent vacation pictures right there on her television.

Photoshow’s core offering is an online slide-show service. Users can create a slide show, adding photos, video clips, templates, music, transitions, captions and effects. I created a test slide show in a couple of minutes. It’s free, and registration is not required to create a slide show.

These shows can then be embedded into MySpace or any other website, or a link to the show can be sent from the service. Photoshow also allows users to buy a dvd version of the show. As far as basic tools to create slide show memories of vacations and other events, PhotoShow is top notch.

And then there is the broadcast-to-tv feature.

It’s currently available only to Time Warner cable subscribers in Hawaii. On October 18 the company will have an official launch party and announce expanded coverage of the service. Once it’s live, users can click a button and, once approved, add it to a local cable channel. This channel is menu driven – when viewers go to the site they can scroll through various topical categories and find slide shows that people have published to the channel. There’s no privacy for these shows, but the convenience factor for sharing these with people who want to view them on television is innovative. If Photoshow is successful in closing deals with local cable channels, this differentiating factor with competitors could make it a winner.

The company has raised $6.3 million from Venrock in August 2005. The company, which also sells a desktop version of the PhotoShow software, presented at DEMO two weeks ago (the video of the demo is available here). See Dan Farber’s recent coverage of the company as well.

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