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Critical Media to Speed News Video to Web

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Almost exactly a year ago we wrote about the launch of ClipSyndicate, a widget for spreading relevant news video around the web. The tool came from the company Critical Mention (now Critical Media) wanting to extend its real-time television indexing tools to a broader market than corporate communications and investor relations departments.

Now the New York City-based company is realizing there’s a piece of the puzzle it forgot: getting content from broadcasters to the web as quickly as possible. Because news video, of all things, has a shelf life.

According to Critical Media founder Sean Morgan, the bottleneck was local affiliates transcoding and uploading their video. “I’d come in at 8 in the morning, and take a look at the log file, see that we’d hardly have anything from the 11 o’clock news until 9 or 10 in the morning. Then the 6 o’clock news we didn’t get till noon, and the news at noon till 3.”

So the company is launching Syndicaster, a web service provided mostly for free to broadcasters that automatically slurps up and transcribes their news video. All the affiliates have to do is log in and then divide the tape into clips and label them. Morgan claimed this will save his customers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in Flash encoding station costs and headcount.

Critical Media will charge about $0.25 per file to transcode a clip to a podcast and transfer it to iTunes.

The company isn’t eliminating ClipSyndicate, its “viral distribution platform” for news video, but it’s taking a conservative approach to letting regular web users get involved in clipping and sharing on Syndicaster. That helps it stay on the good side of its broadcaster partners and customers, as opposed to, say, competitor RedLasso (our coverage).

The question is whether broadcasters will want to invest their time in the startup’s platform. Syndicaster has already signed Sunbelt Communications, which operates 16 NBC and FOX affiliates, and is in tests with Bloomberg.

News video is the largest category of online video, according to multiple studies, but the experience is not great — clips are not immediately available, they are hard to find, and they are inevitably preceded by annoying pre-roll ads — so hey, maybe it could grow even bigger.

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