RealTime IT News

NewsGator Reaches for the Remote

By Ron Miller

NewsGator, maker of news aggregator software, is launching a new product that provides RSS feeds on televisions connected to a network powered by Microsoft XP Media Center Edition 2004.

News aggregators take advantage of RSS, an XML specification for content syndication, to deliver news and information from Web sites and blogs that offer an RSS feed. Now, NewsGator is positioning for video feeds on a television platform.

NewsGator differentiated itself from the rest of the market with its initial release by being the only news aggregator to run in Microsoft Outlook. The next version 2.0 expanded access to POP3 mail clients, the Web and wireless devices.

Version 2.0 also introduced NewsGator Online Services, which provides access for a monthly subscription fee to exclusive full text versions of online content and the ability to set up custom searches across a variety of search resources such as Feedster and Technorati.

Greg Reinacker, president of NewsGator, said he sees the company's expansion to television as its next logical step. "It's part of the whole strategy about having the user define content and see that content and read it on any device. We built a system to see news on Outlook, email, the Web or mobile device; and TV is the next natural delivery system," Reinacker said.

Reinacker said this is a way to deliver content that wouldn't necessarily work well in these other delivery media. "This opens the door for more interesting content. You can imagine movie trailers being distributed this way. Most consumers would be interested in this and you pick and choose the ones you want to see without having to suffer through the ones you're not interested in," Reinacker said.

By bringing the news aggregator to the television, NewsGator is looking to jump to a new platform for RSS feeds. "No one is really using RSS as a video platform or as a multimedia platform in ways that are interesting. Our system is the first of its kind to demonstrate RSS as a multimedia platform," Reinacker said.

Although the market for RSS and news aggregators is still very much in the early development stage, and it's still unclear if they can sustain a viable business model, Reinacker still believes this is a reasonable direction to take and that there will be a market for TV-based RSS, especially given Microsoft's interest in television and media.

"It's a market we believe in and a market that's growing quickly and also a market where Microsoft is investing a lot of marketing dollars."

He said the increasingly popularity of personal recording devices like Tivo and new online movie services shows there is a demand for interesting capabilities with your television.

"Companies like CinemaNow.com and Movielink.com are providing streaming video on demand right through your Media Center PC. Content like this that is not available anywhere else shows the power of the integration of your PC running Media Edition with your TV."

Reinacker admitted that RSS on the TV alone does not necessarily offer a compelling argument for this product, but he believes it fills a niche when combined with the newer capabilities in NewsGator 2.0.

"When it's combined with a system like NewsGator Online Services where you can specify where you want to read certain information, and you can make sure you don't have to read the same information multiple times, I think that's where the power of this integration really comes out," Reinacker said.