Stream UK Introduces Updates to Stream Connect, Crowdsourcer

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Launched in February 2009, Stream UK's Stream Connect is a webcast administration system which allows users to create and manage their own webcasting programme. The company claims its SaaS puts high-quality webcasting within the reach of the normal internet user.

"Users can create a good-looking, branded webcast within about 5-10 minutes, using normal internet browsing skills," says founder and CEO Duncan Burbidge. "You can quickly add features such as synchronised slides, voting, downloadable documents, incorporate chat rooms or contact the presenter."

Since Streaming Media's review Stream UK has developed its own dedicated encoder. This, says Burbidge, is particularly suited to permanent installations, venues with multiple rooms or single rooms for use in regular webcasts. Users also still have the option of using their existing encoders with the system.

Another significant update is the ability to create a webcast from an on-demand stream. The first version of the software was aimed largely at live webcasts but now full control over the finished webcast is enabled, adding slides or editing timings.

As well as integrating with hardware encoders, Stream Connect also integrates with presenters' control devices, like the Interspace Industries cue light systems. Presenters using remote devices for control of laptops and projectors will find that Stream Connect is now automatically integrated so there's no need for an administrator to trigger slide changes.

Multiple presenters, such as a lecturing team, can now be accommodated. Once user profiles are set up they will be stored for future use and instant recall. Similarly player templates can be customised, branded with logos, colours or slides, and saved as favourites for future recall. This makes it easy for a single venue to serve multiple clients with their branded players.

Other features included in the latest release include a security enhancement - working with globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) instead of webcast IDs and the ability to add customized email templates.

"We're seeing a lot of interest from companies who have been using different webcasting technologies for a number of years but who are looking to refresh that service," says Burbidge. "We've had three record months this year with users from right across the spectrum including Pepsico, NMA, and the IETall completing webcasts using Stream Connect."

The monthly SaaS fees for the software is a combination of the number of webcasts (licence fee) and amount of data delivered by CDN.
The other main product developed and marketed by Stream UK is Crowdsourcer, a software tool designed to handle large amounts of video and image content and to make it is as easy as possible to evaluate and distribute the best assets. It serves the same purpose as YouTube Direct, but retains the source footage throughout the process.

The Stream Crowdsourcer application predates Stream Connect and is apparently a larger grossing product right now for the company. It enables a team of users to rapidly assess the quality of incoming material, organized within an internal content management system, and then choose a publishing route for the content.

It is designed around an inbox concept and allows publishers and brand owners to capture incoming content sent via email as attachments, mobile phone MMS/SMS messages or via ftp upload. The system can also transcode the various formats on the fly into one universal format for integration to a website. Further syndication of video is also enabled.

"It is especially useful at managing incoming multimedia content, since Crowdsourcer will automate the process of preparing content for the required output format," says Burbidge.

Reuters used the ingest, moderation and transcoding capabilities of the Crowdsourcer to power the Times Square billboard as part of its Everyday Smiles campaign. The BBC uses the tool for all its user-generated submissions on news stories.

"Instead of the time-consuming process of sending individual files to sites like YouTube, Hulu, or Facebook, Crowdsourcer can integrate with their APIs, to prepare and send content automatically," says Burbidge.

"It can be used to filter huge volumes of UGC submissions. For example the BBC ran a campaign asking people what they would do if they were Prime Minister. All the still image and video content came in via webform or file upload and was moderated by Crowdsourcer."

Burbidge, who owns 45% of the company, has a background in consultancy and prior to starting Stream UK he worked at EuroStrategy consultants.
The company was formed in 2001 and now houses 30 staff in Camden, London and three in Madrid.

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