Streamworks aims to own live online news

Streaming media service Streamworks International wants to control the market for delivering news online with technology born out of understanding ENG. The UK company has a significant deal in place with Associated Press Television News (APTN) and another pending with the United Nations.
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Streaming media service Streamworks International wants to control the market for delivering news online with technology born out of understanding ENG. The UK company has a significant deal in place with Associated Press Television News (APTN), another pending with the United Nations plus one shortly to be announced with a second major news agency. “Our aim is to control live breaking news on the internet as the B2B backbone, taking video content from all major outlets and geopolitical centres and distributing it ubiquitously,” stated Streamworks’ CEO Ray Mia. Critical to that vision is a suite of patented technologies that the company says will reduce bandwidth for live video streams by up to 70%, source material dependent. “With talking heads or medium close-up content we can reduce bandwidth up to 70%, and for fast-moving content with heavy information and bitrates we are seeing 20 to 25% reductions," Mia explained. Without going into specifics, Mia described Streamworks’ secret sauce not as a codec, but as “something that happens before compression.” "We take the raw pictures straight out of the camera, or as close to original source as possible,” he said. “Our technology comes from a deep understanding of broadcast cameras, frame rates, and what makes up a digital signal. We manipulate the signal at a different part of the workflow to encoding providers like Elemental Technologies or Digital Rapids,” though it works with both. Armed with degrees in film production Mia spent 2000 to 2003 as producer at the UN, then set up the broadcast arm of WireImage, now part of Getty Images, before being hired to launch and run a series of digital channels (Pulse, XLeague.tv) for Northern & Shell. Mia is looking for investors in order to expand the business based on a belief that the next big thing in online video is breaking news. A recent study from the Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism (www.journalism.org) revealed that, in the last 15 months, a third of the most-searched terms on YouTube were news-related. Indeed hard news – of the Japanese earthquake or Arab Spring, for example – trumps that of celebrity and entertainment news in terms of views. “Live video is set to undergo a 10x explosion,” Mia argues. “Platforms need live and they need it to work everywhere. We could focus on sport, but that business is very competitive. Twenty percent of all daily internet traffic is based on news. News is permanent and regular. What's more, we understand news, we know how to produce it, and – most importantly – how to commercialise it.” It's hard to argue against that when Streamworks already holds a client like APTN. Last October AP launched its previously satellite-only news feeds service APTN Direct online, on mobile, and on tablets to over 200 broadcasters worldwide with Streamworks as its sole partner. The pair have since delivered the capture of Ghadafi, the Japanese tsunami, the Leveson inquiry, Hurricane Irene, Whitney Houston's funeral and the Queen’s Jubilee. “All our competitors have worked in and around the newsroom, but what I am talking about is live breaking news as well as coverage of longer events such as the US presidential election or a month-and-a-half sitting of the UN General Assembly,” said Mia. “You may not think there would be an audience for hour-long speeches by country leaders, but you would be completely wrong. This is not just about the developed world's media. There is massive demand in other parts of the world from platforms like The Bangladeshi Times to publishers in Africa. Our service is geared toward global consumers of live content.” Mia has already lured former AP sales director (EMEA) Markus Ickstadt and Tim Santhouse, the head of international operations, global media services at AP, to join the company as director of news and director of operations, respectively. Now it is looking to expand into Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. “Breaking news has to exist on every device, so we can only see the sector growing and growing,” says Mia. “Breaking news is not just a consumer proposition. There is a big B2B market for servicing the nuts and bolts of how an editorial desk functions. How do news bureaus located all around the world feed content beyond satellite? It is IP and it is where we step in.” www.streamworksint.com By Adrian Pennington

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