TokBox is releasing a WordPress plug-in Tuesday that enables any WordPress.org or WordPress.com VIP-hosted blogs to embed group video chats on their sites. The San Francisco-based startup first started to offer web-based video chats last November; for WordPress blogs, it revamped its offering to address the needs of media companies and bloggers.
The new plugin essentially makes it possible to host group video chats in front of a larger audience of passive viewers. Think of it like a talk show with a panel of participants chatting while others are watching. Bloggers could also use the plugin to conduct one-on-one interviews in front of a live audience.
TokBox VP of Marketing Micky O’Brien told me that the company already powers video chat on more than 2,000 websites, with more than 250,000 unique users video chatting across those sites every week. Some of the better-known partners include eBuddy and Slideshare.
The company hopes to significantly expand its user base with the WordPress plugin, which allows it to target some 30 million sites across the web. TokBox plans to begin offering premium services to its partners in a month or two, but will keep the basic video chat capability free. Premium offerings could include encryption for its video chats to comply with strict privacy regulations for health care providers.
O’Brien also said that the media focus of the WordPress plugin in particular could eventually help to turn advertising into a second stream of revenue. Media sites already use overlays to monetize their video assets, so adding ad formats to video chat would be a logical next step.
TokBox launched four years ago with a consumer video conferencing offering, but underwent some major management and directional changes last year. The company launched its web-based OpenTok video chat platform six months ago and eventually shuttered its video chat client in April.
Disclosure: Automattic, maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.