Mediascrape unveils online TV news aggregator

A Montreal company is hoping to reignite the concept of Internet television by offering a service that specializes in news clips from around the world, coupled with advertising technology that aims at specific users.

Mediascrape officially went live on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., promising free, all-video content which is translated on location and searchable 30 days. The site includes a “play-all” function that allows viewers to watch 10-12 minutes of top world and regional story clips one after the other, play an hour and a half loop of daily news video clips or drill down by region and country to use on demand.

The database behind Mediascrape was built from scratch from a team that included members based in Thailand, said Tyler Cavell, the firm’s founder and chief operating officer. Its key feature is an ad tool which he said would allow advertisers to get more precise measurements and real-time statistics on their campaigns.

“They’ll have a one-to-one relationship,” he said. “On registration, they’ll be putting in their name, gender, country of origin . . . if an advertiser wants to target a male in Jordan who is 29 years old and born in Montreal, they can reach that person.”

Mediascrape has formed partnerships with Reuters, Canadian Press and several broadcasters who will send content in analogue form to one of its bureaus in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Employees there will digitize the files and add subtitles if necessary, choosing the top stories that will appear on Mediascrape. These are then fed into an automated tool that updates what Cavell calls the “scrape 28” – the most recent content within the last 28 minutes. Mediascrape video editors must be native to the bureaus in which they work, he added.

“We want to keep that really local unfiltered perspective,” he said.

Last month, Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC said Internet video services will generate over US$1.7 billion in revenues by 2010, an increase of more than US$1.5 billion from 2005 totals. Advertising-based services will remain the dominant type of Internet video service, according to IDC, although its share of total market revenue will decline as services like iTunes take off.

Joshua Martin, the IDC analyst who wrote the report, said subscription-based services will grow in part due to home networking products that make subscriptions more appealing to consumers. News content presents a great opportunity, he said, but also more threats.

“It can be more timely, but not as timely as text-based news where there’s less production involved,” he said. “There’s also a number of office environments or other places where you can’t look at a ton of video.”

ABC and CNN are both example of traditional broadcasters that have started their own Web-based news services, Martin said, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

“Video news will serve a function and a purpose, but in terms of generating revenue it will be tough,” he said. “Why watch something for a minute and then 30 seconds of advertising when you can just read an article?”

Cavell said Mediascrape began four years ago as a project to increase the diversity and competition in broadcast media. The company’s business model has benefited from the growth in online ad spending, as well as the growth of broadband, he said.

Though Internet video is only starting to take off on mobile devices, Cavell said he expects about 30 to 40 per cent of Mediascrape’s audience to access its content that way.

“We put that down as the audience of the cyber-educated,” he said. “These are people between 18-22. They use the message boards, they blog and they’ll be the ones that send content to us as well.”

Like YouTube, Mediascrape will feature submissions from viewers, as long as it meets Mediascrape’s content guidelines, Cavell said.

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