While Castfire isn’t exactly a household name, even among techies, the startup has been around for two years and provides audio content management software for a number of clients. In November, they signed a deal with C/Net to provide the software necessary to manage C/Net’s long list of podcasts. In early March, Castfire will be releasing a new video content management service. Founder Brian Walsh was nice enough to give me a short demo recently, and the ease and flexibility it allows publishers was jaw-dropping.
Basically, Castfire allows you to upload source media, and then does all the arrangement of clips and playlists for you. Want to add a stock intro to a series of clips? Castfire will encode the clips and the intro into a contiguous file, and into multiple formats and multiple feeds. Want to create one version of a clip with an ad appropriate to mobile viewers, and another version with an ad targeted to web viewers? Done. Want to batch edit meta tag data on hundreds of clips? Done.
To take a peek at the application, continue on for screenshots and more from my conversation with Walsh.
It’s all managed through a web-based interface or automated with an API. The idea is that it’s vastly customizable, so that any distribution format, subscription method and advertising concept is easy to deploy. The product was built with scalability in mind from day one, even in terms of pricing, with flexible pricing based on gigabytes served. It’s also built to run as the backend for any content delivery network, even peer-to-peer networks. “Our clients are free to distribute in anyway they choose…we are just a platform,” said Walsh.
Castfire is also bucking the ‘permanent beta’ trend. “Since our customers are paying and rely on our system, we have to actually work out of the box,” Walsh said. Though that doesn’t mean that they’ll stop adding features after the release, Walsh assures. “We are continually building and innovating, but they are feature releases.” For instance, they’ll be working to rollout the ability to deliver content through not just one network, but through multiple CDNs.
Customers might include advertising networks, publishers or brand marketers — and can range in size from a web show producer to a major cross-site ad sales network. They’ll also provide tools like their own inline player that allows users to subscribe to content and syndicate it on their own sites, without interfering with the tools enabling custom players. The API extends the functionality further. For instance, the analytics tool can be queried to see if an advertiser’s purchased inventory has been sold out, and if so, a new advertiser’s media can be rotated in.
“The repurposing of content allows the marketing department to focus on content and not mechanics,” he promised. “Castfire enables the entire library of content to be updated through simple drag and drop interfaces to allow for the addition or change of branding and promotions.” With Walsh’s background in both arts production and database technology, it’s not surprising that Castfire’s tools are both powerfully dynamic and easy to use.