DayPort takes voodoo out of posting to Web

May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

KSTP-TV’s Web site has been in the red since it launched four years ago but will now turn a profit for the first time within the next three months. The turnaround came in April when the site began posting its stories online within an hour after they aired.
The Minneapolis ABC affiliate partnered with Mankato, Minn.-based DayPort, which provides a new solution that allows TV stations to send their news stories directly to the Web with no need to hire additional personnel or do any high-tech voodoo.
The availability of the stories online has provided a big boost to KSTP’s Web site usage, increasing the session time per user from 31/2 minutes to nearly 10 and more than doubling page views since DayPort began providing the service last month. That makes it more attractive to advertisers.
“The ability to say we’ll be profitable in three months is remarkable,” said Ed Piette, general manager and VP at KSTP. The station now sells ads that run in the video streams online. AT&T Broadband was one of the first customers.
The service is relatively simple. DayPort provides a hardware and software platform to the TV station that consists of its CATT and DayPort-AL products. CATT connects to a newsroom computer system such as ENPS or iNews.
When the newscast starts, CATT captures the live feed of the show on its server and obtains metadata from the newsroom computer system about the type of story and when each one starts and ends.
At the end of the broadcast, someone from the newsroom, usually an anchor or a producer, checks the rundown on the CATT computer of the stories it has captured, said Glenn Miller, CEO of DayPort. The person then clicks on a mouse to decide which stories to send to the Web site. Those pieces are converted into RealPlayer or Windows Media Player format at three different speeds: 56K, 128K and 256K.
The three versions are then sent to Internet servers that DayPort uses, and the servers deliver the version at the appropriate speed based on the quality of the end-user’s connection. However, before the stories are posted online, the DayPort-AL software kicks in and lets the station user make edits or changes to stories if desired.
The producer or anchor then publishes the newscast to the Web and, voila, the stories arrive online in a little under an hour after they’ve aired. The cost for the service depends on the size of the station, said Mr. Miller, but it can range from $20,000 to $100,000 with an additional $5,000 to $10,000 per month in usage fees.
While those may seem like hefty numbers, Mr. Miller offers the lofty claim that stations can become profitable with the service after four to six months by selling ads in the webcast. KEYC-TV in Mankato was the first station to use the service and recouped its investment within five months of launching it last summer, he said.
The quality of Web video has traditionally been terrible, said KSTP’s Mr. Piette, but he believes there are enough broadband users to support the ability to watch high-quality video online. “We are positioning ourselves for the future,” he said.