Increasingly, TV networks are tapping into social networks like Twitter and Facebook, asking viewers for their opinions and putting them on air. What most people don’t realize is that doing so can be an expensive endeavor, especially for local affiliate stations and their production studios. Vidpresso wants to change that with a low-price, cloud-based alternative to replace the pricey equipment that networks would otherwise buy to support the addition of new features to their broadcasts. And it’s adding features to make its product suite even more attractive to TV producers.
Vidpresso’s suite of products are designed to capture the conversations happening on Twitter and add them to on-screen conversations. It basically allows producers to search Twitter and line up tweets that would be of interest to their audience. They can either publish them directly on-air or queue them up to scroll on screen at roughly the rate at which it would take someone to read them.
Vidpresso launched about a year ago and has been working with stations and networks to refine its products and make them more feature-rich and easy to use. That means adding photo support for Twitter and Instagram, which makes more graphical elements available on-screen. It also means adding support for touchscreen devices.
The photo integration will make more than just text available on-screen, which will be especially important for broadcasts seeking to highlight local breaking news with photos from the scene. For example:
As for the touchscreen integration, Vidpresso’s new feature will allow producers to queue up a bunch of tweets behind the scenes and then allow on-air talent to navigate through them and choose which they want to display through a tablet or other touchscreen device. That brings a whole new level of interactivity to most broadcasts.
Vidpresso prices its service at $500 a month for its regular service, $600 for photo support, and $700 for touchscreen support. But for customers who are interested in signing up during next week’s National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas, Vidpresso is offering it at $400 a month until they cancel. The company has no commitments, no contracts, and a month-to-month business model, so it doesn’t lock customers in.
That’s a model that’s working for a number of shows and networks. Vidpresso’s most high-profile client was probably Anderson Live (which was recently cancelled), but it’s got plenty of clients from local stations in the U.S. and around the world. That includes KSL TV in Salt Lake City, Fox 40 in Sacramento, and Lebanon’s Al Jadeed TV. WFAA in Dallas has already launched and tested the touchscreen integration, and KSL uses photos, but those features will become generally available today.
While putting Twitter on TV is a fine feature, it’s just Vidpresso’s first small step into helping networks and local stations introduce next-generation features into their broadcasts. The company hopes to roll out a ton of new features as time goes on, including email support, so networks can queue up emails sent to them in the same way they broadcast people’s tweets.
But that’s just the start. Vidpresso co-founder Randall Bennett sees an opportunity to offer character generator services and title support, replacing expensive Chyron machines. And there are other things the company can do, like make it easier for networks to playback online videos from services like YouTube. But for now, on-air tweets are just one small step into the production studio.