Many TV station groups rely on a small group of outside vendors for Web and mobile platforms and related services, which compete with one another for business from broadcasters and, increasingly, newspaper publishers. Here's the quick rundown of these companies and what they are thinking.
The Big Five: Inside TV’s Digital Vendors
Broadcast Interactive Media
Services: On the technology side, BIM works with Limelight, formerly Clickability, on CMS services for clients. It also offers BIMVid, a separate video CMS and a social media platform to allow for uploading user-generated content called YouNews. BIM integrates most of its mobile services into its CMS and develops some mobile apps internally, though President-CEO Timur Yarnall says the company isn’t particularly looking to define itself on the app front, and that many of its clients use third-party providers there. BIM acquired TitanTV a year and a half ago and now provides electronic program guides for broadcast stations. BIM also offers a local and regional ad network with access to a national network.
Clients: The NBC O&Os use the Limelight platform through BIM and also have a revenue sharing partnership on a la carte ad campaigns. Belo and Fisher Communications both use Limelight and BIM’s video platform, and Granite subscribes to its full suite of products. BIM also recently launched the Telemundo Group, which is using its full suite across 11 sites, which are converting over through the end of the year.
Outlook: “We’re happy to provide full technical support for our clients, but we’re constantly encouraging them to take more ownership and control of their own websites,” Yarnall says. “We think that’s vital for them to be able to rise in this very fast changing climate.”
Services: EndPlay provides CMS and mobile services, and CTO Phillip Huyn says a video solution is in beta testing now and will roll out early next year. EndPlay partners with Syndicaster to provide video services to clients.
Clients: EndPlay provides CMS services to Fox Television Group, Scripps and LIN Media, all of which get their video services from Syndicaster. Huyn says EndPlay may announce new clients by the end of this year or early 2012. “We’re in final talks.”
Outlook: Huyn said EndPlay is looking at healthcare, education and gaming as potential new markets to move into beyond providing broadcasters with services.
Services: Inergize offers its own CMS, a Seek it Local hyperlocal business directory, News Synergy and News Synergy Deals mobile apps and an SMS platform for alerts and campaigns (delivered in partnership with Vibes). It uses Syndicaster to provide video services for its clients.
Clients: Among those subscribing to Inergize’s full suite are Newport, Jackson Television, Desert Television and Calkins. Inner Mountain, Morris Networks and Louisiana Media Group are clients for mobile and CMS. Titan Television is a CMS client, and Raymar subscribes to all but its SMS services.
Outlook: “We’re looking at publishers,” says GM Jason Gould. “Most publishers — broadcast or newspaper — are starting to realize that it is a multiplatform environment that you’re having to deal with, and so somebody that’s fully integrated and can deliver cross-platform experiences with ease of publishing and distribution is the way to go in terms of efficiency of operation.”
Services: IB’s new CMS, IB Publish2 was developed by German-based CoreMedia and its video platform comes from Kaltura. “We’ve poured all of the technology that IB has been building over the past 15 years into this new platform,” says CEO Elmer Baldwin. “It has been a massive effort for us.” IB’s mobile solution is built into its CMS.
Clients: Post-Newsweek, Hearst Television, Bonten Media, News-Press & Gazette and Morgan Murphy Media subscribe to IB’s full suite. IB also works with McGraw-Hill, which is in the process of a sale to Scripps. “In Q1 we’ll be a little more out there in soliciting clients,” Baldwin says.
Outlook: “This industry has been constrained by its underlying technology,” Baldwin says. “It has not been flexible. There are way too many home-grown solutions. “I think we’re stuck in a paradigm, and it’s time for us to revolutionize it. We have to be ready with the tools and technology underneath the cover that gives [broadcast clients] creative freedom.”
Services: WorldNow offers its own CMS, video and mobile solutions. It also provides a consulting service to better integrate its technologies into newsrooms. “Technology is important, but when you look at the state of broadcast TV stations, the real task at hand is things that actually have to happen inside the newsroom and adjustments to workflow, and that will have a greater impact on your ability to create audience online,” says Craig Smith, EVP of sales and distribution. WorldNow additionally has a national ad network and a sales training program.
Clients: Meredith Broadcasting, Raycom Media, Allbritton, Griffin, Landmark, Quincy Newspapers, Dispatch Media and Young Broadcasting are among the clients using WorldNow’s full suite. CBS Local, Gray and Cox Media Group use its video services.
Outlook: “If we don’t focus on building the stations’ core news products through the technology and strategies and best practices that you learn by failing, then we’re not really moving the dial,” says CEO Gary Gannaway. “At the end of the day, growing rating points is really the only way to change the real cash flow in television stations.”