It’s hard to find a live morning show or sports event coverage on TV these days that doesn’t feature tweets or Facebook comments from viewers. For most programs, though, getting those messages on air is actually more difficult than it seems and often involves custom software and expensive hardware. Vidpresso, which officially launches today, offers TV stations a far easier solution. All they need to display social media posts on the air is a Mac mini or Apple laptop that is connected to their existing production equipment and, of course, a subscription to Vidpresso’s web service.
Unlike most currently available services for the TV industry, Vidpresso runs on off-the-shelf hardware and there are no startup fees or long-term contracts to sign. Basic subscriptions start at $400 per month and max out at $900. The company has already signed up a few stations as beta testers, including Fox 40 in Sacramento and KSL in Salt Lake City, both of which regularly use the service on the air.
The software itself really couldn’t be any easier to use: producers simply use the service’s web application to find interesting tweets based on keywords, hashtags etc. and push it onto the screen with just a click or two. That’s about all there is to it.
Here is what Vidpresso looks like from the viewers’ perspective:
The Utah-based startup hasn’t taken any funding yet. Its co-founders Randall Bennet, Justin Caldwell and Piers Mainwaring have an extensive background in broadcasting, video production and web journalism. Bennett, for example, worked for CNET, ESPN, ABC and Justin.tv and Caldwell ran his own video production business before joining Vidpresso. Mainwaring previously worked for Apple and is now in charge of coding the service’s front end.
The team’s ambitions go far beyond just helping TV shows put more tweets on air, though. The TV industry is currently dominated by players who sell long-term contracts and proprietary hardware. Bennett’s vision is to slowly replace most of this with off-the-shelf hardware and far more easy to use software. Vidpresso is really just a first step in this direction.
In a way, Vidpresso has just the right team to make this work. Bennett, after all, once ran his own web video show TechVi.com with the help of a closet full of Mac minis.