If you’ve always wanted to be on TV, but you can’t croon sincerely enough to try out for American Idol and you wouldn’t fit in with the 24-year-old adolescents on The Real World, a tiny startup called SplashCast may have what you need: a way to create your own shows and broadcast channels, viewable by millions, on the Web.
SplashCast channels can be viewed “on demand” inside a special streaming-media player pasted into a blog page or other personal website. Whenever a show or channel is updated, the new content flows out to viewers automatically.
There aren’t yet any SplashCast celebrities; the company just launched the new service on January 29, at the DEMO 07 conference in Palm Desert, CA. But publicity-minded users have already created more than 1,000 channels and filled them with multimedia shows, including video, music, photos, and text.
“Now the average person, without being very technically sophisticated, has the ability to put together any type of media content they want and really be their own broadcaster,” says Michael Berkley, CEO of SplashCast, which is based in Portland, OR, and has a staff of eight running on $1.6 million in venture funding.
Of course, the idea of the Internet as a personal publishing medium goes back to the beginning of the Web in the early 1990s, and it blossomed more fully around 2002 with the rise of blogs and RSS news feeds. More recently, it has become a simple matter to distribute photos or videos by uploading them to media-sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube. And the spread of cheap video cams, easy-to-use video-editing tools, and portable media players such as the video iPod have inspired even newer personal-media genres such as vlogging and vodcasting (the video equivalents of blogging and podcasting).
What’s new about SplashCast’s service is that it marries the concepts of video blogging and dynamic syndication. In the same way that RSS news readers such as Newsgator and Bloglines show the latest headlines from around the mediasphere every time a user logs in, a specific SplashCast player always displays the latest content the player’s creator has added to his or her personal channel. That’s different from previous forms of “embeddable” video players, which are usually restricted to showing a single video. A MySpace user who wants to include three YouTube videos on her profile page, for example, must paste in three separate players. With this older player technology, to use Berkley’s comparison, it’s “as if your TV could only be tuned to The O’Reilly Factor.”