Red Lasso is a stealthy company that's been around for about 2 years, though only now coming up to the surface. I did a phone briefing earlier this week with Kevin O'Kane, President/founder and Al McGowan, COO. They also gave me access to the private beta and I've been playing around with it for the last couple of days.
Red Lasso's goal is "to help broadcasters extend the life of their content, legitimately." They're positioning themselves as "an anti-YouTube", allowing broadcasters to proactively contribute long form video and audio, which users can then search and clip for exactly the content they're looking for. The video can simply be watched or it can be embedded. Though they don't want to be seen as an "online DVR", it is tempting to see them as such. Monetization is most likely through advertising, though a licensing model is possible as well.
Red Lasso's playing in the same basic space as Voxant (note: a VideoNuze sponsor) and Clip Syndicate (see this for more), with a key differentiator being the long form content availability and clipping feature. Red Lasso is currently taking 150 different broadcast feeds from around the country, and their ability to get the industry to cooperate is helped by the fact that Al and Kevin are broadcast veterans.
Red Lasso is trying to appeal to at least 3 types of users: broadcasters seeking to flexibly publish specific video clips on their own sites, independent web sites trying to feature key segments of their own video (e.g. sports teams) and bloggers seeking to embed video. They believe this third group is the most fertile territory and I agree.
Bloggers across the spectrum (politics, entertainment, sports, etc.) have been hungry for video clips to enhance their sites. I believe this demand will only increase. If you're a blogger looking just for the "money quote", clipping from long form assets provides a lot of value. I did some searching and clipping (below is one result).
I found the clipping pretty straightforward, and I liked the fact that I could save mine, which I can also publish to the community for widespread viral use if I choose to. The searching is based on phonetic and closed caption text. It was not quite as accurate as I hoped, but video search is a very tough nut to crack, and so I'd expect room for improvement there.
At a strategic level, Red Lasso again demonstrates how broadband's influence is going to be felt in the broadcast TV industry. I think traditional concepts of appointment viewing, geographic constraints and local ad sales are all going to seem quaint as broadband allows quality video to fly around the net. I'd urge broadcasters to be looking closely at all the players in this space.
CM is offering Syndicaster free for 2 main reasons, first because they want to incent broadcasters to use it widely, in turn helping CM's Clip Syndicate unit build a gigantic library of clips to syndicate around the web (as Sean says "to lubricate the digital broadcast syndication market"), and second, because they can. How? Because Critical Mention already takes video feeds from 240+ broadcasters covering 85%+ of the U.S. population, digitizing them for its CriticalTV search and monitoring system. I'm assuming that beyond development, there's little incremental cost in running Syndicaster.
Sound a little confusing? To simplify, there's a web of product offerings, all powered from the same underlying infrastructure. Actually, it's a very cool example of the scale opportunities in digital media. Once you've collected the data (in this case video, which is also transcribed into text), there are multiple products, markets and customers to serve. And it also shows that traditional hardware/software solutions continue to be at risk in the Internet age.
Syndicaster's now being offered to 450 initial broadcasters. Soon, others can sign up too. Sean and Sharon also gave me a sneak peek into some other upcoming stuff. All very interesting. Keep an eye out for more soon.