What is StationCreator, and how did you and your team get started in this field?
StationCreator is advancing and democratizing television broadcasting for an online world. Our platform allows any individual or organization to easily set up and run their own 24/7 broadcast TV station on a website (and soon inside mobile apps).
I have over a decade of experience in online video production and strategy. I produced a daily web series from 2006 to 2007 called “Wallstrip,” which became the first web video show to get acquired (by CBS). Since then, I’ve been developing online video strategies for media companies, and a number of times I was asked to build something resembling a live online TV station. Presently, this is a very manual process that requires a switching mechanism (such as a $5,000 to $10,000 Tricaster) and an employee to physically control the switcher. It occurred to me that broadcast automation for online videos could solve a lot of content distributors’ pain points.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that StationCreator would fill a void?
The void is an extreme gap between time spent watching traditional TV and online video. Currently, the average U.S. household spends five or more hours per day watching TV and less than 30 minutes watching online video. Today, online video requires too much action from the viewer: searching, browsing and clicking every time a video ends. The vast majority of the world regularly watches broadcast television, and we’re aiming to equip online publishers with a mechanism for delivering television stations to their audiences.
We’re seeing a confluence of trends around online TV broadcasting, including rapidly-increasing video viewership on phones, tablets, video game consoles and connected TVs, disruption in the cable industry (Netflix and Amazon streaming services, Verizon, Google and Intel announcing Internet-based cable TV packages), YouTube expanding with live streaming, Hangouts and premium content. The living room is clearly the next frontier in online media technology.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize StationCreator to compile videos from across the Web and create custom channels for its clients’ video content? What are some unique ways that brands can use video to engage their audience if it hasn’t been a big part of their digital strategy in the past?
Every brand or organization will need a TV station — similar to the way Twitter and Facebook quickly became an integral part of any organization’s communications. We remove cost as a barrier to entry as well as the need to produce original content in order to grow an audience.
A consumer-facing company now has the ability to curate videos popular within its target demographic in order to attract audiences to its website to distribute marketing messages. A shoe company can easily create stations with compelling soccer or skateboarding videos from around the Web. Soda and energy drinks can deliver extreme sports content to their audiences. Gather niche audiences, and expose them to your own marketing.
What new trends in online video are you most excited about and why?
All of them! Viewership is increasing rapidly, and so is aggregate viewer time and viewership on mobile devices. What’s truly exciting about online video is that the living room has yet to be fully explored; devices like AppleTV and Roku are still only in their first inning of existence. The signs are clear that global audiences are shifting their attention from terrestrial and cable TV to online video, and it creates all kinds of exciting gaps to fill. We aim to deliver interesting and insightful television stations to viewers worldwide and invite them to participate in television broadcasting themselves!
How do you see StationCreator evolving in the next three years?
Without sharing our entire game plan, I can tell you that our initial focus is on providing a killer suite of easy-to-use tools for broadcasters to create and run TV stations. But once this side of the business has been established and is self-sustainable, we seek to expand our focus to solving some of the problems viewers have with watching online video in the living room. This means packaging our network of stations into consumer-focused applications for all kinds of devices, ranging from mobile platforms to set-tops, television OS and video game consoles.
Jon Labes is co-founder and CEO of StationCreator.com, a platform for creating and watching online television stations. Jon is a digital video producer and strategist at the forefront of online video trends. He attended the film school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts during a critical period of transition from film to HD video and was amongst the first “preditors” (Producer, Shooter & Editor) single-handedly producing television content for television news programs. In 2006, he produced an original daily web series called “Wallstrip,” which became the first online video property to sell to a media company when CBS acquired the company for $5 million. Jon has produced hundreds of hours of high-quality online video and directed production and distribution strategy for media organizations including NBC, Fast Company and StockTwits.