Last week Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn crashed horrifically in the Super G at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, tearing two ligaments and ending her season. Terrifying though it was, it's exactly the kind of video clip (see below) that the skiing world and Vonn's fans want to be able to see immediately.
In this particular situation, Universal Sports, which had the championship's broadcast rights, was able to deliver, posting the clip, which includes audio of Vonn's agonizing cries, within minutes of the incident. As Universal Sports' VP/GM, Digital Media, Elliott Gordon and Director, Streaming Operations, Gus Elliott, explained to me, fast time-to-market drives numerous benefits for the sports network and is enabled by a relatively new relationship with SnappyTV.
SnappyTV offers a suite of cloud-based video editing tools so that rights-holders can quickly publish just the key highlight moments to social media outlets (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) and to online video publishing systems (e.g. YouTube, Brightcove, Ooyala). SnappyTV's CEO and co-founder Mike Folgner told me the company uses mainly a SaaS business model that starts at $99/mo for individuals and small organizations.
Prior to implementing with SnappyTV, Elliott and Gus said creating clips was a manual process involving editors using Final Cut and then pushing the clips out to each of their targeted platforms. The process could take 30 minutes or longer, an eternity in today's world of immediate gratification. With SnappyTV, their live broadcast feed is captured in the cloud and then a video editor uses the console to clip and publish videos in near real-time.
Of course this has tremendous benefits to users in delivering on their Twitter-created real-time expectations, but it has other upsides as well. First, by being live on YouTube quickly, Universal Sports ensures, as the rights-holder, that its video becomes the go-to clip to watch, staking a quick claim using YouTube's Content ID system to preclude knock-offs.
It's also a PR and monetization win as the network's communications team is able to quickly reach out to news outlets like NBC Sports and Yahoo to offer the video as an embedded player, complete with a packaged pre-roll. It also gives Universal a chip in negotiating formal syndication deals for even broader distribution. Last but not least, cloud-editing allowed Universal Sports to retain its experienced LA-based highlights team even as other production work flows were relocated to Denver in a recent corporate re-organization.
To date, the Vonn clip has generated over 250K play starts via the Brightcove player and has helped Universal Sports better understand how near real-time distribution can play a strategic role in building the network. All of this is another great example of how the intersection of online video and social media allows rights-holders to further leverage their content and build relationships with users.