Digitalsmiths Targets News, Sports Organizations With New Clipping Capabilities

Digitalsmiths reporting

Digitalsmiths reporting and analytics

Digitalsmiths is primarily known for enabling film studios like Warner Bros. to manage and distribute large video files with advanced metadata and search capabilities attached — but that could change with the newest version of its VideoSense platform. That’s because the company has built new clipping and editing capabilities into VideoSense 2.5, which could open up a whole new market opportunity for Digitalsmiths with news and sports organizations.

“Once an asset’s in the system, [our customers] don’t just want to get it from point A to point B, but they also want to be able to edit that asset,” Weinberger said in an interview with NewTeeVee. So the company developed a clip editing system within VideoSense that allows customers to quickly chop up a master file into shorter segments, creating whole new video assets to be managed within its system.

Because VideoSense recognizes different scenes, faces and objects to create metadata, the system can even suggest segments within a file for users to clip. And because the platform associates all metadata with a timestamp within the master file, when those segments are created, only the metadata that’s relevant to an individual clip will be transferred to the new video asset.

With the new editing and clipping capabilities, Digitalsmiths isn’t just serving film studios and TV programmers anymore — the company is also picking up customers in the news and sports industries. “This is a very powerful tool for them. They no longer need to have an editor sitting down with expensive editing equipment to create these clips,” Weinberger said.

The video clipping functionality is somewhat unique to Digitalsmiths in the white-label video management space, although TV indexing firm Critical Media offers similar capabilities to news organizations through its own Syndicaster platform. While Critical Media doesn’t have the same type of distribution capabilities as Digitalsmiths, it has a partnership to enable customers to distribute clips directly into Brightcove’s video management platform.

In addition to the new editing and clipping features, VideoSense 2.5 adds a couple of other product enhancements, including a new reporting and analytics dashboard that’s fully integrated into the publishing system. The new reporting system is designed to provide granular viewing data across all of an asset’s distribution points, while also enabling publishers to track viewership by metadata. By having access to that data, customers should be able to better monetize their assets, while also being able to make better future publishing decisions, Weinberger said.

Finally, the new version of VideoSense provides a direct way for users to upload an asset from their desktops, doing away with the need to move it between various FTP sites or watch folders. Using technology from Aspera, the direct upload feature also enables more efficient file transfers than customers would see otherwise.



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Where to Watch the Florida-Alabama SEC Championship Game Online

If you’re a college football fan, it doesn’t get much better than this: On Saturday, Dec. 5, No. 1 ranked Florida and No. 2 ranked Alabama will face off in the annual SEC Championship game. And for viewers who might not be able to tune in via oldteevee, the game will be streamed live online by CBS Sports.

For the second year in a row, CBS will make the SEC Championship game available online at CBSSports.com. Beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, the company will offer live streaming of the game, complete with the same commentary from Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson that will be shown on the television broadcast. And after the game, CBS Sports will have on-demand video of player and coach interviews, game highlights and a game recap from the booth.

The online stream will be broadcast using Adobe Flash, and will include in-game stats, live chat, on-demand highlights and integration with multiple social-networking sites.

In addition to streaming online, CBS Sports will provide a mobile component. Customers who subscribe to the MediaFLO mobile video service will have access to the live video stream on their mobile devices, as will fans who have purchased the company’s CBS Sports: Live College Games iPhone app for $4.99.

The game will wrap up CBSSports.com’s coverage of the SEC online this year, which has consisted of the streaming of 15 games over the course of the college football season. CBS Sports streamed a number of other live sporting events online in 2009, including the NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Championship, the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open Men’s Final. Over the course of the year, CBS Sports claims to have provided audio and video streams for more than 11,000 live events in 2009.



Vid-Biz: BBC, Sony, Blu-ray Sales

BBC Gives Technical Details of Its New iPlayer On the Wii; the U.K. broadcaster has encoded streams using H.264 at a 700 kbps bit rate, compared to 1.5 Mbps for regular TV or even 3.2 Mbps for HD. (BBC) Speaking of British TV, the U.K. version of YouTube debuted its new site section that hosts roughly 4,000 full-length programs. (Variety)

Silverlight 4 Beta Launches for Developers; new features include out-of-browser capabilities, advanced business application development, and native multicast and offline DRM support for video. (Ars Technica)

Sony Announces Plans for Digital Media Store; new Sony Online Service will sell music, movies, books, and other downloadable applications for mobile devices. (BusinessWeek)

Disney Launches Its First Branded Entertainment Channel; “The Possibility Shop” will be exclusively sponsored by Clorox and promote Clorox products. (Ad Age)

Blu-ray, DVD Sales Expected to Stabilize in 2010; high-definition Blu-ray DVD sales have yet to make up for the decline in standard def DVD sales in 2009. (Video Business)

Digiboo Does Partnership with Movie Gallery; deal will put 100 Digiboo movie kiosks (see previous coverage) in retail locations. (Video Business)

Grey’s Anatomy Gets a Web Spin-Off; Seattle Grace: On Call will be a six episode run that’s on immediately after Grey’s is aired. (The Hollywood Reporter)



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Michael Wilbon Leads Charge Against Belichick’s “Arrogant” Play Call

bill-belichick-new-england-patriots-1116jpg-dfadd096ffc34ff7_largeThere was one thought going through the minds of Bill Belichick-hating sportswriters as he gambled and lost in Indy last night: “We’ve got him!” With just over two minutes to go in last night’s much-hyped Colts-Patriots game, Belichick elected to go for the first down on a 4th and 2 from his own 28 yard line. Tom Brady’s pass to Kevin Faulk was bobbled and caught, but Faulk came up a half-yard short, leading to a Peyton Manning touchdown pass and Colts victory. Yesterday was the loss, and today is the backlash.

The questionable play call on 4th and 2 opens the door for criticism of Belichick’s coaching strategy, and is one of the first instances that his coaching style has so obviously and negatively effectd his team. Although he’s familiar with negative attention from the press, it usually has nothing to do with the X’s and O’s of football. But last night, sportswriters were finally given license to publish the “Bill Belichick is an Arrogant Prick AND a Bad Coach” piece that has been saved on their desktop since the Pats’ first title in 2001. Leading the charge, and giving a preview of his two-minute beatdown on “PTI” later today, is Micheal Wilbon:

“No great coach, no head coach with multiple Super Bowl victories, would have made that call — except the most arrogant great coach of them all, Bill Belichick. And the decision to try and pick up those two yards in Indianapolis last night instead of punting, fittingly, is the most arrogant end-of-game decision I’ve ever seen in 40-plus years of watching pro football.”

Up until this point, the only thing protecting Belichick from this type of coverage was his reputation as a master strategist and schematic mastermind. Sure, he his post-game handshakes with opposing coaches last 2 seconds, and his press conferences are marked by muffled answers and bouts of floor-staring (have you ever seen a guy who didn’t want to be there as much as Belichick?). But his antisocial behavior was seen as a quirk, a completely understandable side effect of being an NFL genius. Now, we are seeing the effects of that genius being called into question.

“Ask yourself if Vince Lombardi, with his team leading by six points, would have gone for it on fourth and 2 from his own 28 with two minutes to play in the game? You think Don Shula would have made that call? Tom Landry. No, of course not.”

Finally, Wilbon imagines what it would have been like had things gone differently:

“If the play works, we’re in awe of the Patriots again. They’re 7-2, they knocked the Colts from the ranks of the undefeated again, they’re looking like the best team in the AFC again, what with Brady healthy and firing rockets to Randy Moss. If that play works you could have cued the Gladiator music because the Patriots would have been on their invincible train once again.”

Here are how some others are covering Belichick’s misfortune:

Dan Shaughnessy says this is worse than anything Grady Little ever did.

Rodney Harrison, former Patriot and current “Football Night in America” analyst, called it the “worst decision” he’d ever seen.

Game On! compares Belichick to Bill Buckner, and also notes that the vaunted Belichick coaching tree isn’t doing so hot.

In addition to the backlash, there is also a strong contingent of writers defending Belichick’s call:

USA Today points out that, statistically, Belichick made the right choice.

Wayne Winston also defended the move on HuffPo, but don’t worry, Bill Belichick is still “one of his least favorite people in sports.”

Joe Posnanski of SI.com says Bill’s lack of empathy made him do it, marking the first time an NFL coaches playcalling was defended because of his sociopathic tendencies.


Chyron of the Day: Dr. Nancy Bravely Questions Women’s Athletics

MSNBC, 12:50pmET:

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By now, everyone has likely seen the video of the hair-pulling, punching female college soccer player who has been suspended indefinitely. Dr. Nancy Snyderman took this as an opportunity to delve into the topic of whether women athletes are just too darn aggressive and emotional these days.

We don’t know exactly what Dr. Nancy is implying here, but we’re pretty sure it’s not 100% un-sexist:

You want women out there aggressive, smart, nuanced. How do you take them up to that spot and not sort of, I don’t want to say let girls be girls, but push them toward the kind of stuff you would expect out of men’s sports, but just perhaps an inch or two shy of that?

So we want women to be almost as aggressive as men, but just not quite as much or else we can risk incidents like some crazy woman punching an opponent?

William Wiener, a sports pyschologist, was one of Snyderman’s guests, and he had a different, but equally cringe-worthy theory. “As we see a growth in women’s sports in general, I think this kind of aggression and people losing control of their emotions is a natural outgrowth of that and I think the systems aren’t really intact to sort of contain that,” he said.

The isolated incident (yes, there’s another high school soccer fight video now making the rounds) is the exact thing cable news likes to make into a trend.

This screengrab has nothing to do with soccer or overly emotional, aggressive women, but was from the segment after and made me laugh:

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As we’ve reported before, Dr. Nancy has some of the best chyrons.

Do you have a pick for Chyron of the Day? Email me at Steve@mediaite.com. Check out all the past Chyrons of the Day here.

Here’s the video of the segment, naturally headlined “Girls Behaving Badly”:

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Cats Sleeping with Dogs? Rival News Orgs Share Content, Revenues

Next month, newspapers all over the United States will begin sharing sports stories online and in print as part of an initiative that sprung from the Associated Press Sports Editors. Then, early next year, the Washington Post and Bloomberg with unveil a new co-branded business section on the paper's website that will offer content from both organizations.

These are just two of the next-generation content-sharing initiatives being pursued by news organizations. The first generation of sharing agreements saw stories swapped by papers in Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, New York and New Jersey among other places. (Read this previous MediaShift article about the Ohio News Organization [OHNO].) These agreements focused on print editions, and involved little or no revenue sharing. Content-sharing is now moving into its next phase by bringing stories online and looking at ways to share revenue.

This spirit of cooperation is largely driven by the fact that newspapers have fewer reporters in the newsroom, which means they produce less content. So they are teaming up with once-hated competitors, striking alliances with strategic content partners, and looking at ways to share their content online, while still reaping the resulting clicks and ad revenue. In the process, some long-held taboos of the news business are falling by the wayside.

Breaking Taboos to Survive

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After the Northeast Consortium announced its content-sharing agreement earlier this year, Jim Willse began uploading his story budget so that other New York and New Jersey papers, including the Record, Times Union, Buffalo News and New York Daily News, could see what the Star-Ledger was preparing for the next day's edition. When asked if he could have conceived of doing that 10 years ago, Willse, who recently retired as editor of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, chuckled.

"Probably not even five years ago," he said. "I think the exigencies of the economy are forcing people to create, in some cases, fairly ad hoc alliances to save money and to keep the level of content high. A few years ago, we could not have imaged sharing a State House bureau with the Bergen Record. We couldn't have imagined exchanging [story] budgets and running Bergen Record stories on the front page, and vice-versa. In an era of diminished resources, some of these traditional and non-productive rivalries have got to be put aside."

That same view has helped papers in Florida and Ohio come together to share content that would have been considered sacred just a few years ago.

Long-simmering rivalries are also being set aside in other countries. In Canada, the national public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, this month launched a content sharing arrangement with the National Post, a newspaper that has regularly published opinion columns and editorials calling for the closure or gutting of, yes, the CBC. It also ran a regular "CBC Watch" column in the paper. But tough times call for fresh ideas.

Dylan Cohen, global team leader for content syndication at Bloomberg, and the person who helped broker the recently announced deal with the Washington Post, said these agreements signal a new era for content.

"There's an old phrase that used to be used in the business: 'NIH,' meaning not invented here," said Cohen. "If you didn't do it, didn't report it, you pretended it didn't exist. With the web, there is no possibility to do that anymore. For me, it's very positive and I think the newspaper industry needed this."

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Still, it should noted that most of these content alliances are used as a way to fill a newspaper while having less reporters in the newsroom, according to Alan Mutter, a former media executive and journalist who writes the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur.

"From a quality journalism point of view, it's definitely a step in the wrong direction," said Mutter. "The reason I say that is competition in all things makes for better product. Papers who are taking content from other papers and sharing, they've sort of eliminated the need to compete, and that means the newspaper is in danger that it will be less aggressive in enterprise and investigative coverage."

Sharing Stories and Revenue Online

The Bloomberg-Washington Post deal was announced on October 1 and includes several components. The two companies are creating a news service, the Washington Post News Service With Bloomberg News, that will sell their content to other organizations. The Post previously had a similar deal with the Los Angeles Times, but that has ended. Bloomberg also has several of its terminals in the Post newsroom, and some of its content, including market information and other data tables, appear in the Post.

But the novel part of the relationship is the co-branded online business section that will be launched on the Post's website in the first quarter of 2010, according to Bloomberg's Cohen. (Asked if the new co-branded business section was part of an overall Post web redesign for 2010, Cohen said he didn't have any information to share.)

The new business section will display the Post and Bloomberg logos, and will offer content from both parties. All Bloomberg stories will be presented as excerpts and will link back to its website, thus driving traffic for Bloomberg. The two companies will also share ad revenue generated by the co-branded section.

"Building out our own website is a critical strategic initiative for our company," Cohen said. "The revenue sharing is an immediate return for our bottom line."

The CBC-National Post deal also includes a similar online revenue sharing component, something that's not present in older content-sharing agreements in paces such as Ohio and New Jersey-New York. News organizations are now putting a priority on developing a content-sharing strategy that also shares clicks and revenue.

Neither Bloomberg nor the CBC would share any specific financial details. Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the CBC said, "The financial model is based on revenue sharing of ad modules."

Linking as a Form of Compensation

While its arrangement doesn't include a revenue-sharing element, the soon-to-launch sports content sharing service that grew out of discussions held by the Associated Press Sports Editors will have an online element. Roy Hewitt, sports editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is helping set up the new collective. He says roughly 60 newspapers in the U.S. have expressed interest in sharing their sports content, and he expects their service to launch by next month. Members will be free to browse story budgets and use full articles in their print editions. But online will be different.

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"If I have a story running in my paper tomorrow, then you can have the same one, too," Hewitt said. "On a website, we only allow use of a limited number of words and then the story links back to the original newspaper's site. So the hits go to the paper that originally produced the story, and not to someone else."

The maximum online excerpt is 150 words including the headline, according to Hewitt. Right now, the collective is free for newspapers to join, as the third-party that's hosting the service is donating the back end.

"It's just matter of newspapers trying to help other newspapers," he said. "You still get credit for [your reporting]. I think we understand that our competition really is for readers' time, not with the newspaper down the street."

Craig Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author and an associate editor at MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is the founder and editor of Regret The Error, the author of Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech, and a weekly columnist for Columbia Journalism Review. Follow him on Twitter at @CraigSilverman.

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GoalBit: P2P Streaming Goes Open Source

goalbitBandwidth-conscious broadcasters have a new way to distribute their live video streams. A group of Uruguay-based P2P researchers recently released the first English-language version of their open-source P2P streaming application, GoalBit. The application, which is based on a BitTorrent-like architecture, aims to compete with P2P streaming services like PPLive and PPStream by giving anyone looking to distribute their own live video programming a way to do so.

GoalBit, which is available for Windows and Linux, currently features just a handful of Uruguay’s TV networks streaming at fairly low bitrates. But the service looks promising nonetheless, and its extensive documentation could be intriguing to anyone interested in P2P streaming.

GoalBit uses a hybrid approach that combines the best of the BitTorrent world, with features from the likes of P2P networks such as Gnutella and KaZaA’s FastTrack network. Its network features a tracker similar to the one used by BitTorrent clients, but it also makes use of so-called super-peers. These are computers with fat pipes that help to distribute the initial signal until it trickles down to users with ordinary DSL connections and limited upload speeds. Super-peers can be run either by the broadcasters themselves, or self-selected based on the connectivity of the individual end user. The idea of this multilayer approach is to prevent too many direct connections to the broadcaster while at the same time making the system scalable.

Another interesting aspect of GoalBit is that channel lists are distributed in the form of small files similar to .torrent files in the world of BitTorrent. Broadcasters simply have to create such a file with the help of the GoalBit client, announce their stream with a GoalBit tracker and upload the file to a web server — and they’re ready to stream to the world. Well, that’s the theory anyway. The developers of GoalBit state that this so-called “Broadcast Yourself” functionality is still experimental, and I haven’t actually tested it myself.

GoalBit is competing with a wide array of P2P streaming applications, most of which are proprietary. Particularly successful examples are PPLive, which claims up to 30 million active users per month, and PPStream, which boasted 1 billion video viewing hours per month a good year ago. Another player in the open-source P2P streaming field is P2P Next, a European project funded with 14 million euros ($20.4 million) by the European Union. P2P Next demonstrated a streaming client dubbed SwarmPlayer in the summer of 2008 and has since been busy developing and testing a set-top-box implementation.

Companies like PPLIve and PPStream cater primarily to users in China as well as Chinese-speaking audiences worldwide, but P2P streaming apps have also always been popular with sports fans looking for their latest soccer or Olympics fix — a fact that was clearly not lost on the GoalBit makers, as is evidenced by the choice of name.


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