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Picture This

1 Mar, 2009 By: Response Contributor Response

Internet and television meet in the living room while American viewers learn the term DTV.


Bridging PC to TV

ZeeVee, a first-time exhibitor at CES, was honored with a CES Innovations 2009 Design and Engineering Award for ZvBox. The product essentially removes the middle man and turns a home computer into a streaming HD channel without the need for a set-top box. It's called "localcasting," and the HD stream can reach any television in the house up to 150 feet away. Rather than establishing content partnerships with movie and television content providers, ZeeVee enables users to watch any content from their computer, from YouTube clips and other user-generated online video to movies that the user purchased and stored in an online media library.

"ZvBox takes the unique approach of using a computer you already own to find and deliver Internet video," says Vic Odryna, CEO and founder of ZeeVee. "By embracing a computer, everything on the Web can be reached, no matter how it is built. Boxes like Apple TV and Roku, or upcoming technology like Yahoo! Widgets deliver a much smaller subset of what is already available, and force the advertiser and content owner to develop new applications to deliver their content."

Bridging the gap between Internet and TV provides a new level of accessibility and choices for the consumer.

"The wide spectrum of existing open Web technologies offer advertisers and media owners the opportunity to develop rich applications that are available everywhere, and are not limited to closed devices.?For example, Netflix was available online, through your computer, long before you could get essentially the same experience through closed boxes like Roku," adds Odryna.

Advertisers who've struggled to effectively monetize online video will appreciate the new incentive to view sponsored online content. For instance, fans of ABC's "Lost" can purchase the latest episode from the iTunes store and watch it without ads on their computers or iPods, or they could stream it for free from ABC.com directly to their TVs using ZvBox and elect to watch the embedded ads.

Content producers are catching on to the trend. Launched last November, Celebcast.com is a 24-hour live and interactive entertainment channel broadcasted online.

"What's the next big thing? It's broadcasting on the Web," says Angela Bakke, executive producer and host of Celebcast.

Some of the shows on the channel include Playback Live, Celebrity Soapbox, Hollywood Happenings and Trailer Trash. It's interactive because users can join forums and chat online about the shows they're watching with other audience members.

"It's a TV channel, but it's on the Web," Bakke explains. "Celebcast is a model of what can be done using the technology."

Bakke is referring to RayV, a new online broadcast system where approved users set up their own channels, stream content for free and monetize their channel through subscriptions or advertising. The tools needed to create, manage and monetize an online broadcast channel are all pre-packaged into the RayV system.

The challenge now for Bakke and other producers hoping to carve out their space in online broadcasting is to set themselves apart from boundless user-generated content (UGC) and create popular programming that advertisers will want to sponsor.

"That's exactly the question we've been asking ourselves," says Bakke. "We need to convince [the advertisers] that no one's done it before, but we can do it."

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