Monday, November 03, 2008

Project V - The VidZapper Story

Around ten years ago it became blindingly obvious to me that one day TV would be distributed over the internet. I’d see computers evolve from monochrome to 64,000 colours and had figured out a way to put pop promos onto floppy disks and play them back full screen (yes, in the days before CD-ROMs, let alone DVDs).

Most of my time since has been dedicated to all elements of the industry we now call ‘Internet TV’ (or, if you prefer, ‘IPTV’).

But, after building a multimillion company from scratch, taking it public on the US markets and then seeing it comprehensively taken apart by someone else, it was almost enough for me. I decided to develop camping software instead (seriously!

But the bug is in me, and, a year later I’m back with a much more focused approach to the Internet TV market.

So, what’s my current take ?

1)      Keep It Simple – VidZapper is a Flex application connecting to a SQL Server db; it loads fast, and once loaded is just like using a desktop application; it’s easy to use – learning how to use it takes under half an hour.

2)      Make It Powerful – very sophisticated Players can be built quickly using the system’s API making it the ideal tool for any web developer to use.

3)      Keep Costs Low – the cost of all technology and bandwidth for an Internet TV channel should be under $18k with VidZapper, making it a manageable cost and giving a channel operator the opportunity to make money back from advertising; bandwidth is brokered, so even start-ups get the best prices.

4)      Get Content From Anywhere – encode locally and upload, upload and encode remotely, link to content on third party servers and allow users to generate their own content that can then be moderated – all of these are options in VidZapper; also, the system supports Flash Video (FLV), MPEG4 (H.264) and Windows Media (WMV).

5)      Keep All Options Open – there’s no point in developing a dedicated ad system  media companies want to use their existing tools, so VidZapper supports third party ad insertion for banners and MPUs, but rotates them to match the video revenue opportunity; pre-roll and instream ads are also supported either directly or via tags.

6)      Make It Adaptable – it’s possible to easily develop and add functionality; VidZapper is even setting up a network for developers to sell plug-ins to each other; the first plug-ins will be an ecomm and a directory component.

7)      Mash It Up For Scale – third party systems provide the ads, the network and the payment gateway – there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel.

8)      Let The Users Decide – VidZapper supports live, on demand, scheduled and searchable video and will soon support downloads

Of course, VidZapper also has all the usual things you’d expect – user management, category management, full screen video, etc..

So, the next step is take it to market. Already there are around twenty resellers lined up in twelve countries. Let me know if you’d like to join them. Or, if you'd like to use VidZapper for your Internet TV or web video project, give me a shout.

So, here’s to the next ten years, when I have little doubt that Internet TV will be TV.



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