The Future of News Viewing

By Chris Ariens 

Of the more than 1,600 exhibitors trying to pitch their products to the more than 100,000 attendees at the NAB this week, we experienced, oh, five of them. Robotic traffic cameras, HD transmitters and portable satellite uplink units are not the stuff of TVNewser. But one new product launch is. Because it might just be coming to a desktop near you.

Livestation allows users to watch 24-hour news networks on their computer, in real time. Not clips; not webcasts; but the actual channel, live. So far, in beta testing, those networks include ITN, BBC, SkyNews, Al Jazeera and several others. Over the next few months the founders of Livestation will be making their pitch to American channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

The downloadable platform is the branchild of physicist-turned-Internet entrepreneur Matteo Berlucchi. “It’s about three things,” Berlucchi tells TVNewser. “Choice, alerts and social networking.” The choice comes from the aggregation of the news channels so you can watch what you want, when you want. Seconly, Livestation will also include message alert technology pioneered by another of Berlucchi’s companies; lastly, the social networking tools will include IM, so you might be at work in New York watching BBC, and message your friend in Hong Kong to watch too.

• The business model, the challenges and a first-ever photo, after the jump…

This image is believed to be the first time a live broadcast has aired on a WiFi enabled iPhone device (in this case the iPod touch.) This image shows a live BBC News broadcast airing on Livestation Tuesday evening (PT). The same broadcast with a six-second delay, is airing live on the iPod Touch.

The Livestation business model is based on both advertising and fees. In some cases, broadcasters could resell interstitial ad space. So, if you’re watching Bloomberg, and “change the channel” to BBC (which is done by using the scroll on your mouse), the BBC could resell a short pre-roll ad.

The permission or licensing to re-transmit the channels is a challenge Berlucchi is going to have to face. But the technology could also give a challenge to what Nielsen is currently doing for the networks. What you’re watching on Livestation could be tracked by the number of seconds or minutes per day, week or month. And that data would be given, not sold, to the networks.

And to appease cable operators who might not like the idea of live cable news being made available online, IP mapping could allow for certain channels to be blocked from certain geographic areas.

As the testing phase continues Berlucchi and his team of 15, including former CNN International president Chris Cramer, will try to get more networks on board. Berlucchi hopes to launch in the fourth quarter.