Rethinking the Call-in Show
TechCrunch profiles an interesting crew of Facebook, Google, Cooliris alums trying to rethink online video chat for use with large(r) audiences. They call themselves OnTheAir.
Here’s how it works. A host sets up an OnTheAir show and selects a start time. They receive a unique URL that leads to a landing page with a countdown to their show. OnTheAir lets them schedule tweets for an hour and a few minutes before the show starts to promote themselves. When the show starts, the host begins live video streaming to the audience.
Viewers can text chat with each other and the host, or click a “Call In” button to alert the host that they want to join them “on stage”. The viewer is intelligently walked through an equipment check to turn on their webcam and mic, and shown a preview so they can check their hair. Meanwhile the host can look at the previews of anyone asking to call in, and select who to bring on stage with them for simultaneous, sync’d up video streaming to the audience.
The technology itself isn’t very interesting — think combining Livestream/Ustream for live one to many Webcasts with Google Hangouts for small group chats that can include an audience — but the purpose is. OnTheAir appears to be positioning itself as the online version of the traditional call-in show.
Again, technically, not very interesting. But what is journalistically interesting is if you slap a mobile video app on that. Do so and you can imagine how OnTheAir — or a Web/mobile service like it — could be used for covering the street during live events around the globe.