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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 18, 2008 at 9:00 PM

Craig McCaw’s video news venture unveiled

Wireless mogul Craig McCaw has been quietly building a video news service with similarities to the hit video service Hulu, but with broadcast news instead of feature material.

Called 1Cast, the service distributes customizable video playlists called “Micro-Casts” that can be played back through a browser, an embeddable video player or an iPhone application.

Windows Mobile and Google/Android applications are coming next, in the first quarter of 2009, according to 1Cast President Anthony Bontrager, a veteran of several digital media startups who previously was at Seattle’s Fisher Communications.

Content comes from A-list sources: Initial partners include Associated Press, Reuters, CNBC and CBC.

It’s an ad-supported venture. The ads displayed before, after and during the video is sold by 1Cast and revenue is shared with the content creators.

Online video and news is a crowded space, but Bontrager said 1Cast should stand out in part because it’s distributing licensed content.

Didn’t RealNetworks have a similar strategy long ago, and partnerships with broadcast networks?

“The industry is littered with first movers,” Bontrager acknowledged, but added that the “time is right” for 1Cast to introduce its service.

Target audiences for the service are primarily business people. It’s also aimed at bloggers and college-age news consumers.

Users can create video news playlists based on search terms, such as “Obama’s dog” or “Yahoo chief executive” and receive batches of up to 15 clips of news broadcasts pertaining to the topic.

Playlists can be shared by posting them — and 1Cast’s embeddable video player — on blogs, social networks or other Web sites.

The material is presented in Flash, at varying resolutions depending on the speed of the Internet connection sensed by the service.

McCaw’s Eagle River Holdings investment company is backing 1Cast and hosting the company at Carillon Point in Kirkland. It may move into its own space over the next year, as staffing grows from the current seven to perhaps 20 people, Bontrager said.

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