This “station in a box” solution lets stations create digital channels with the look and feel of a Web page. KCRG Cedar Rapids is first out of the box with a channel that features Oprah at 9 p.m.
KCRG Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is broadcasting a digital channel that comes out of a box.
But it’s no ordinary box. The ABC affiliate created (and is continually recreating) a multimedia channel using Decisionmark’s ChannelBuilder, which is billed as a “station in a box,” but which is actually a dedicated computer with dual video inputs, Internet link and unique software.
Using the drop-and-drag software, the station mixes video, graphics, crawls and text to produce a channel with the look and feel of a Web page. It’s news, weather, entertainment and promotion. And, with few exceptions—notably a 9 p.m. second run of Oprah in a portion of the screen—it’s local.
“Whereas NBC affiliates are shoe-horned into using WeatherPlus, which uses lots of national content, this gives us more flexibility,” says KCRG’s Program Director Dan Austin. “We think people are interested in local content and that’s what we’ve designed this channel around.”
KCRG is not the first station to offer a multicast channel in the market. Raycom’s KWWL broadcasts both NBC WeatherPlus and The Tube, a national music video service.
KCRG’s channel 9.2 launched Aug. 1, but this week it is making its real debut before 80,000 subscribers on the local Mediacom cable system.
The service is an unofficial beta test for ChannelBuilder. Decisionmark and KCRG have common owners.
Decisionmark is charging $30,000 plus an annual maintenance/upgrade fee for ChannelBuilder.
Decisionmark President Jack Perry has been touring the country for the past few weeks, pitching the product to stations large and small.
“This gives stations a whole new way to approach multicasting,” he says. “They can look at the channel like a screensaver; viewers can leave it on as a point of reference when they’re around the house. It’s essentially a multicast Web page that program directors can change 100 times a day.”
Matt James, general manager of KOLO Reno, Nev., was hooked by the Perry’s presentation. He is in the process of submitting a proposal to corporate, in his case Belo, hoping to get approval to launch a service within the next 30 days.
He said KOLO’s digital channel will likely focus on high school sports and other local events. “This digital channel might give us the opportunity to reach out to advertisers that may not have been able to afford TV in the past,” James says.
Perry also claims the product is perfect for stations trying to serve audiences in different languages, like KSCI Los Angeles. KSCI broadcasts in half a dozen Asian languages on its main channel and is looking for a way to launch several digital subchannels each targeting a different nationality.
“We want the ability to multicast separate channels in Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese,” says Peter Mathes, president and CEO of AsianMedia Group, the owner of KSCI. “What he told us about ChannelBuilder made it sound perfect for our business, even more so than the general market.”