Watchitoo debuts device to bring web streams to live TV

By Natan Edelsburg 

Streaming company Watchitoo (which powered the Social TV Summit stream) has launched a device to make it easier for producers to bring multiple live web streams straight to TV. “The Watchitoo Channel Encoder 1000 is a server/hardware combination that can turn a web video stream into an HDTV-quality product by treating it like an in-studio camera feed,” the company explains.

TV producers are increasingly relying on live streams — usually via Skype — to book guests from around the world with minimal set-up. In the old days, booking a “talkback” (as it’s often called) requires sending a microwave or live truck to the location, but as the quality of live video increased, web video chats are increasingly common on the air, from newscasts to syndicated talk shows. The Al Jazeera show, The Stream, is a great example of a show that relies on web streams to lower the barrier to booking guests all around the world.

As live web streams become increasingly common, Watchitoo’s new device is designed to help producers coordinate up to 25 at once, just like they’re studio camera shots. And you can imagine the possibilities for social TV: viewers could tap a button on their second screens to ask to be streamed live on the air. We spoke to Aviad Arviv, Watchitoo’s Chief Operating Officer, about the new device.

Lost Remote: How does the new tech work?

Aviad Arviv: Basically, it allows producers to stream multiple composite videos from the Watchitoo Live Show and broadcast directly into the studio with green room controls. These controls allow producers to prep guests and adjust audio and video feeds. Virtual guests can beam in from anywhere in the world. All the guest needs is a web cam and an internet connection.

The physical output from the WCE is HD/SDI. With the Admin the WCE comes with output resolution can be adjusted to support 1280×720 with a frame rate of 59.94 as needed in most TV studios.

LR: Why do TV broadcasters need this?

Arviv: This is a cost effective and innovative solution for bringing remote guests in virtually. The traditional model of having guests travel to the studio or sending production crews to broadcast via satellite is expensive and inefficient. There are other solutions that broadcasters have used and tested, but they do not have the capability of bringing multiple guests in remotely with the ability to control the source feed and pre-screen guests. This solution also allows broadcasters to move away from the linear approach of having multiple solutions to broadcast via TV & Web. The Watchitoo WCE is an integrated solution that allows broadcasters to bridge the gap between TV & second screen. We allow them to bring audiences from their web environment.

LR: How much will it cost?

Arviv: There are 2 models available – a solution that can be installed in the studio or a SaaS-based solution. The cost varies and is customized based on the set-up and scale of the production, but typically covers set-up & installation and a subscription fee.

LR: How will it make TV more social?

Arviv: More and more, TV is moving to the web, and we see this as an effective solution for broadcasters to provide second screen or original Web content programming. The Watchitoo platform enables web viewers to become part of the conversation with video chat, text, Twitter & Facebook posts; allowing anyone to be the star of the show.