Video Widgets Descend on DEMO

Widgets, or embeddable slices of outside information that update automatically (displaying anything from a picture slideshow to current weather conditions) have their lovers and their haters.

We like the way they bring a little bit of the outside world to a page, and have been experimenting with them over in the lower-right part of this blog. Our favorite so far is vod:pod, which helps us build an in-site playlist of videos.

Tuesday at DEMO, at least three video widgets are launching — that’s gotta be a record. Below, we give a little main-column love to SplashCast, ClipSyndicate, and blinkxit.

Portland-based SplashCast is perhaps the most flexible of the widgets, incorporating audio, photos, text, video, and RSS feeds into a clean and simple Flash player. However, it is still quite limited, for instance allowing only YouTube-hosted and desktop video files at this point.

SplashCast is probably most similar to the idea of Slide — where a creator pushes fresh content out to widget player subscribers — though that service just seems to get cutesier every time we look at it.

I can think of many great uses for SplashCast’s embedded players, but the creation process is laid out in such a linear way you’d have to use the tool a few times before figuring out how it could work best. For instance, bands could use this as a marketing tool — getting fans to embed the player on their pages and pushing out new singles, music videos, and tour dates. And — huzzah! — that could be a business model too.

Since I’m a heavy widget user I have some fairly specific demands for SplashCast. On the publisher side, I’d like to see better submission tools — a bookmarklet to submit additions from off-site, and ways for readers to suggest and/or add items. On the audience side, I’d like a channel guide, where I can find popular curators and celebrities to syndicate. Some of these features are already provided by vod:pod.

SplashCast is the second version of a company founded in 2004 called QMind, which made similar tools for internal training in the enterprise space. It had raised $1.3 million in funding.

Check out my first attempt at a SplashCast show below:

Next up, ClipSyndicate. New York-based ClipSyndicate is a subsidiary of television-tracker Critical Mention, soon to be a separate company.

Critical Mention has taken its massive real-time television indexing tools and extending them from corporate intelligence and research, where it sells them now, to syndicating relevant and current video to vertically-oriented sites. For instance, the web presence of a fire-fighting magazine uses ClipSyndicate to subscribe to a feed of the latest fire-related clips.

ClipSyndicate is also a version 2.0 company of sorts, but in this case the founders of Critical Mention had sold ScreamingMedia, a sort of text version of what they’re doing now, to Marketwatch for $103 million in 2003.

ClipSyndicate is perhaps not a full-fledged widget, as it is not, at this point, self-serve. However, it gives indie publishers access to a ton of fresh news content that they would not otherwise see. The service works on a rev-share model, with 30 percent to the broadcaster, 20 percent to web publishers, and 50 percent to ClipSyndicate.

Lastly, San Francisco-based video search engine blinkx is launching a “blinkxit” widget on Thursday. We haven’t gotten a good look at this one yet, but basically the tool will allow people to provide contextual video within a blog post via an embedded video menu or video wall. Screenshot below.



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