Public Media Collides with Silicon Valley at Matter Accelerator; Six Startups Emerge
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collect video or photo coverage of public events like the Gezi Park protests. The material they send back can find its way into reports published by independent media outlets, NGOs, or non-profit organizations. Jones calls OpenWatch “a global marketplace for reporting, analysis, and insight.”
Media organizations have spent lots of time and money producing live and recorded video for distribution online. The paradox is that most of this video is hidden away in hard-to-find, hard-to-watch places, meaning viewership is paltry, says Mixation founder John Labes. His startup’s idea is simple: To take all that existing video—whether it’s hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Ustream, Livestream or Justin.tv—and organize it into a continuous, television-style stream that can be experienced in “lean-back” fashion.
“What if we could take all the videos from a company like CNET and turn them into a legitimate television experience?” asks Labes. With a Mixation station, he says, “everybody watches synchronously, and as a viewer no action is required of me whatsoever. I can pop this experience out on watch on my desktop all day long, or even go full screen for a true lean-back experience.”
Labes thinks high-traffic sites like news organizations, content portrals, retailers, sports teams, and prominent bloggers and YouTubers will be willing to pay for the Mixation service, which has both free and paid levels. Right now Mixation stations play only on the Web, but the startup is building versions that will work on iOS and Android mobile deivces and set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox. “Right now, six companies [CBS, Warner Bros., News Corp, Comcast, Disney, and Viacom] control 90 percent of the TV you watch,” Labes says. “That is about to change.”
ChannelMeter is building a Nielsen-like rating service for organizations that publish videos on YouTube channels. The system pulls data about viewership from YouTube’s servers and presents it in a way that’s more accessible and detailed than YouTube’s own analytics, according to co-founder Eugene Lee. With data on hand about which types of videos perform best by measures such as length, topic, or day of the week, publishers can make better programming decisions, Lee says.
ChannelMeter’s pilot customer, Red Bull, increased its YouTube video subscriber base from 500,000 to 2.5 million during the period it was using the service. “We don’t claim we are directly responsible, but they will tell you that our data was influential in helping to find best practices and refine audience developments,” Lee says co-founder. The startup plans to open its service to other customers next week.
Cambridge, MA-born Zeega has built a simple authoring platform that lets journalists, editors, and average Web users remix their own or other publishers’ videos, photos, sound, and other digital materials into interactive stories it calls “Zeegas.” Through the site’s authoring interface, users can browse materials collected from Tumblr, SoundCloud, Flickr, and Gliphy (but not YouTube, for technical reasons) and drag and drop them into personally curated sequences with original superimposed text. Think Storify, but for images and sound rather than just social media updates.
It’s hard to describe Zeegas—you just have to go watch a few of them. Zeegas can be embedded on Tumblr and other publishing platforms and shared via social media , and since all of the materials in a sequence are pulled from their original sites at the time a Zeega is played, there aren’t any copyright hassles to worry about.
The startup was founded by Jesse Shapins and Kara Oehler, and started out as a consulting business and interactive production studio with support from Harvard’s Berkman Center and a Knight News Challenge grant. But after the Zeega platform started to generate interest back in 2011, the team decided to focus on it, and eventually relocated to San Francisco to join Matter. Jake Shapiro calls Zeega “the poster child” for the kind of crossover between community-generated media and business thinking that Matter was created to support.
The Zeega platform—which has been lauded by Buzzfeed is now being used by everyone from authors to musicians to news organizations such as The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and the PBS Newshour—is “not about video the way we’ve thought about it before,” says Shapin. “For the first time, Zeega makes it possible for anyone to create and share immersive audiovisual experiences, changing the way we all tell stories and share ideas.”