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Surfing Silicon Valley: Web-spawned TV takes off



May 13, 1999
Web posted at: 2:40 p.m. EDT (1840 GMT)

In this story:


A world-wide broadcast method

Do-it-yourself TV

"Wayne's World" meets "The Real World"


CNN's Greg Lefevre reprots on the growing number of Internet TV offerings
Windows Media 28K 80K

(CNN) -- Want to see those equestrian trials that weren't on television? They are now. Or the latest news in the world of shipping? Tune it in.

The Internet has spawned an infinity of specialty television channels. Just ask Lisa Amore of "TV onthe Web."

"We have right now 25 channels on ',' and it runs everything from the Air and Space Channel to high-tech business, Business Uncut -- which is something we do with PR Newswire -- The Equestrian Channel, The Jazz Channel."

Computer users tune in with video software. The mostly widely used are from Real Networks, Microsoft and Apple Computer.


A beaming Dave Richards from Real Networks says, "Everyone is producing audio and video for the world today. And that isn't limited to deliver over the airwaves in particular geographies or over cables in geographies."

That's geekspeak for anyone-anywhere to anyone-anywhere.

"Anyone who has an Internet connection can experience this audio and video that people are producing."

On most connections, the pictures are small and a bit jumpy.

Apple Computer's Steve Jobs grins widest when talking about his big score: is the world's feedpoint for the new "Star Wars: Episode One" trailers. They play in higher definition widescreen and stereo via Apple's QuickTime.

The trailer is a very hot item -- ten million downloads.

"As the Internet gets higher bandwidth, especially, you know, to each destination, cable modems and DSL modems, the quality will take a giant leap up and I think we're at the beginning of something pretty profound. But we're at the beginning of it."

A world-wide broadcast method

For now, companies or associations hire Internet broadcasters to put them on the Internet. So far, 30 of them have turned to 'TV onthe Web.' "'TV onthe Web' has created a network of narrow-cast channels on the Web that basically enables associations, corporations to be able to reach out to their specific and target markets beyond the boundaries of their territories of where they're living," says Amore.

Example: shipping news.

There are hundreds of shipping companies scattered all over the globe. Amore says no single broadcast method could reach them all -- until the Internet.

"Basically because we had so many clients in that industry who needed to reach out with what they were doing in the industry, it has become actually the news and information resource for the shipping industry all over the world," she says. "We've covered just about every single shipping conference world wide." 'TV onthe Web' uses three to four cameras -- Canon three-chip models -- that feed into a portable video switcher. The signal is then encoded on three custom-built PC's.

The PC's are really cool. The side of the PC case is actually a big LCD laptop screen. The operator has the computer, screen and keyboard all in a small amount of tabletop space.

'TV onthe Web' transmits 25 channels now. It has five more that it's working on and hopes to have another 40 by the end of the year.

Do-it-yourself TV

How about TV "Me?" Do-it-yourself television.

Talk show host Alex Bennett runs his own one-man, do it yourself Internet TV station.

"I do this from my home every day of the week," he says. "I have two cameras, and I can switch back and forth between the two cameras and all that."

"All that" consists of two video cameras, pro-sumer style; a standard PC-style computer; a lighting kit that throws an electronic blue screen behind him on which he can superimpose computer-generated backgrounds; a specialty computer called the Trinity Globecaster; and a modem with high-speed Internet access.

To transmit with any real video fidelity, it takes a connection at least as fast as a 115kb ISDN line. Best is a cable modem.

Bennett suggests I start my own show: "Greg's garden."

"The world is yours," he insists. "We can put you on live. We can say, Greg your show goes on from 3 to 5 on Saturdays. Take that camera out to the garden, hook it into your computer and send us your program."

"Wayne's World" meets "The Real World"

Straight out of the movie "Wayne's World..."

"Two Guys On A Couch"

A pair of young entrepreneurs from Sacramento who shoot their own Internet infomercial for 'A TV Station Kit.'

Costs range from four to seven thousand dollars for the semi-professional set-up. But in reality, anyone with a video camera, a moderately speedy computer and a moderately speedy modem can set up in the Internet TV business.

Bennett: "I think tomorrow's big star is going to be your next door neighbor, from next door!"

What's next?

Amore, who once lived in Italy, says she'd like to see more about the Italian Renaissance.

The Italian Renaissance Channel?

Surf on.....

Soap-opera Web site bubbles over into cable
May 7, 1999
Ex-TV execs and animators turn to the Web
April 6, 1999
Will the Net kill network TV?
March 13, 1999
TV-Web convergence: Now? Ever?
January 29, 1999

RealNetworks - The Home of Streaming Media
Apple Computer
   • QuickTime Showcase - Lucasfilm
TV onthe WEB
Play Incorporated
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