The Digital Signage Insider

Narrowcast network owners await live feeds from CBS Broadband News

Published on: 2005-07-15

Not too long ago I wrote an article about licensing and syndicating digital content like RSS feeds to digital sign networks ("Syndicating content to your kiosk or digital sign network"). RSS and syndicated web content is hot right now in the digital signage market, since it's a fast, easy and reliable way to add timely content to otherwise repetitive store-and-forward video loops.

After publishing that article, a number of people wrote in asking if I was aware of any syndicated video services that could be used either for kiosk attract loops or narrowcast network content. At the time, I was only aware of a few services offered by the AP and Reuters. While I've found that these services can provide access to a huge database of video clips gathered from news agencies across the world, the overall depth of the content was mediocre (I think the average clip was only 30 seconds to a minute long), and video quality wasn't very impressive either.

That's why I'm so interested in a recent announcement by CBS, who is forgoing a traditional 24 hour TV news network in favor of an Internet-only broadband network that will provide high-quality live and stored video feeds on all major news topics, 24 hours a day. They claim that the service (which will be the new CBSNews.com) will provide:
  • An on-demand, 24-hour news network in the digital broadband space.
  • A blog called "Public Eye" that will provide "greater openness and transparency into the news gathering process."
  • A new homepage featuring the "EyeBox," a built-in video player.
  • Over 25,000 on-demand video clips, including video yet to be broadcast on TV.
  • A commitment by CBS News to fully integrate its personnel and other global news gathering resources to provide exclusive, original reporting and commentary around the clock.
What's really interesting is that CBS doesn't want to make a distinction between its television and Internet news services - the same staff will collect and generate news reports, and many of the same facilities and equipment will be used to produce spots for on-air and over-the-net broadcasts.

Now what remains to be seen is whether CBS will opt to resell the streams to narrowcast network owners eager to provide live content to their host locations. While broadband video can look quite impressive these days (especially when using one of the new video codecs like MPEG-4 AVC), I don't think this technology is going to push RSS feeds out of the way any time soon, since high-quality video requires an always-on broadband connection and a decent amount of bandwidth. Still, for those who have the infrastructure to make it work, the wow-factor of live video (from CBS, no less) could help the push to bring digital signage into the mainstream.

There's some additional information over at AdRants.


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