ScreenFeed offers step up from boring news tickers

February 14, 2009 by Dave Haynes

I stumbled across ScreenFeed somehow or other recently, I think when I was looking at exhibitors for DSE and seeing these guys amidst the list of usual suspects.

The company caught my interest because they are developing content tuned to the digital screen space, and doing something more interesting than offering up another news ticker feed. The feature product is full screen news images with an accompanying headline in a tinted banner box overlaying the bottom 1/4 of the screen.

I traded emails with Jeremy Gavin a couple of weeks ago, and I am finally free to knock off a post about what he let me know.

In a nutshell we’re providing a tool for network operators to entertain their viewers daily, and we want to make it easy for them to do that – and do it effectively. We’re focusing on being provider of daily content that has visual interest.  There are other options out there for data feeds of news, weather, stocks, etc but most implementations of them offer poor visual interest. There are other options out there for full-motion video, but they are not really up-to-date content. With cable TV, the web, and iPhones viewers are getting the latest information presented in beautiful ways and should be with digital signage as well.

So our “News in Pictures” channels are really great options for signage because we can deliver stories with an exceptional photo and a headline written to communicate a story in a single phrase. There are so many great photographs being taken every hour in the world and we can move them faster and at a lower bandwidth than video.

The company has a preview channel, but I’m not sure they wanted me to pass that on, so ask them if you want to have a look. 

The value we bring to the content is everything is licensed with our content partners, we gather news photos for the top stories of the day and write headlines and crop the photos to the aspect ratios and resolutions that fit our clients screens. Then we provide delivery of the content via a Flash SWF they can schedule in software such as Broadsign and it will connect to our feed and display the content like a slideshow. We also provide delivery via Media RSS, FTP of JPEG images or a MPEG video file.

The company, really a subset of a Twin Cities-area interactive design firm, has a couple of pricing models that vary according to the venue type. Again, ask them for the numbers. For me, the numbers seemed a little high, not so much because these guys are making a cash grab but more so because the pricing very likely reflects what news-gathering organizations charge for headlines and images.

The problem the ScreenFeed product will face, as a result, is the disconnect between what content providers like AP and Reuters want to charge, and what piles of small networks can afford. It’s hard enough to get small network operators to pay a low license fee for a whole hosted software infrastructure. Try that and then double up the site cost with content fees.

The news in pictures product has news, sports and celebrity chatter versions, as well as weather. 

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