The player: Steve Beaumont, president and CEO of Narrowstep, based in the United Kingdom and New York
The play: Narrowstep works behind the scenes, striking deals with the new generation of niche programmers to power their Internet television channels. The company has created more than 100 channels to date and adds about six per month. Channels include Horse TV Access, Sailing.tv, Bluehighways.tv and Cycling.tv. “Narrowstep is the engine under the bonnet,” Mr. Beaumont said.
The pitch: Narrowstep aims to provide a true television-like experience on the Internet. “Most of our clients concentrate on long-form programming,” Mr. Beaumont said. Narrowstep produces an electronic program guide for its clients so their viewers can scroll through the shows to see what’s coming up next or what they missed to watch on-demand. Viewers can also search for content. In addition, Narrowstep offers an ad insertion system so programmers can place ads into content on the fly, and it tracks the performance of each ad.
The competition: Narrowstep goes up against Brightcove, thePlatform, Roo Media and Feedroom, among others.
The numbers: On average, viewers of the channels Narrowstep powers stay about one hour and 23 minutes at a time. The channels are geared towards affinity groups, such as cycling fans on Cycling.tv. “If there is a road race they are streaming live, that road race could last for three hours,” Mr. Beaumont said.
The money guys: Narrowstep was initially funded by a private investor group at around $10 million. The company is not yet profitable, but Mr. Beaumont is targeting mid-2007 to move into the black. In the second quarter of 2006, its license fees grew a whopping 308 percent, but Mr. Beaumont said he’s balancing that against increasing costs as the company invests in a growing sales staff. “We burn about $200,000 a month on an operations level and I think that’s the right place to be,” he said. The company generated $2.7 million in revenue in 2005, and reached that mark again by the first six months of this year.
Pros: Narrowstep is quickly gaining traction as niche programmers continue to launch channels on the Web.
Cons: Competition from companies such as Brightcove is fierce.
Backstory: Narrowstep was founded in 2002 and went public on the OTC market in 2005.
His story: Prior to joining Narrowstep, Mr. Beaumont worked for pen company Parker, Gillette and for Sanford-Europe, the writing instrument division of Newell Rubbermaid. Mr. Beaumont, 50, was born in Hastings, England, and grew up there. He attended the University of Leicester, where he studied finance and accounting. He lives in Brighton, England, and has two children.
Mr. Beaumont was a competitive swimmer as a kid in the breaststroke and individual medley.