Israel’s LiveU opens up the broadcast field

With LiveU, users can create good quality videos that are good enough for commercial TV networks, at a much cheaper price.Thanks to services like YouTube, anybody today can get into the video business, broadcasting streaming video of family events and …

With LiveU, users can create good quality videos that are good enough for commercial TV networks, at a much cheaper price.Thanks to services like YouTube, anybody today can get into the video business, broadcasting streaming video of family events and vacation antics to all and sundry. But you wouldn’t want to use YouTube for something important – like a corporate meeting, for example.

For that you’d want something more professional. But if you want anything better than streaming Internet video, which is cheap but low quality, be prepared to pay – lots. Real TV quality broadcasting from a satellite feed delivers a great picture – but with transmission costs of around $30 a minute, not to mention the cost of renting the equipment, it’s far too expensive for the man on the street.

What’s needed is a happy medium – and that’s exactly what Kfar Saba-based LiveU provides. Using a patented device half the size of a regular laptop, LiveU’s system provides high quality video transmission from anywhere in the world, at near TV quality – far superior to streaming Internet video, says Ariel Galinsky, who is setting up the company’s US sales office, and far, far cheaper than it would cost to set up and broadcast with a satellite system.

“LiveU’s system provides 2 MB of streaming capacity per minute. You get a much higher quality picture, good enough to be used commercially by TV broadcasters, for a lot less money than you would pay for a satellite hookup” Galinsky tells ISRAEL21c.

And what websites like YouTube did for home video, LiveU is likely to do for professional, broadcast quality video, Galinsky says. “Until now, only the biggest, most important events – whether sporting events, concerts, conferences, etc. – were able to reach a wider audience in real time, because you needed an expensive satellite TV broadcast system to transmit it,” he explains. “And commercial TV broadcasters would only cover the biggest events because they had to allocate their resources.”

But with LiveU, Galinsky says, “regional events that might not have otherwise been available can now have a wider audience.” Not only does this democratize broadcasting, it also helps out broadcasters, who are constantly looking for new, interesting content for their audiences.

With LiveU, you don’t need wires to broadcast, either. All transmissions are done using the local cell or Wifi network, with the LiveU device “rolling over” to take advantage of different networks in different areas.

The transmission is sent to a server, where the client receives it in real time. And from there, it can be forwarded on to its final destination, like a website – or a TV screen.

“The system allows organizations of any size to broadcast its events to any medium,” Galinsky says. “The picture LiveU broadcasts is high quality enough for any medium, whether Web or commercial TV.”

Not only do groups that would never before have previously thought of it have the opportunity to show the world who they are – “they can even make money off their event, selling commercial time or licensing the broadcast,” Galinsky says, opening up an until-now unimagined income stream for high school basketball teams, volunteer organizations, or even small and mid-sized businesses.

LiveU will even work for major broadcasters. “Satellite video phones, which reporters in the field use to broadcast their reports, cost a lot of money per minute, and the hardware itself is very expensive. LiveU is a lot cheaper to run and operate, and allows reporters to file better and longer – and more in-depth – stories,” Galinsky says.

In addition, LiveU can go where satellites phones cannot – like under bridges, inside caves, or anywhere else there is a line of sight obstruction with the satellite being used to transmit. “Since LiveU uses the cell network, our device can broadcast from locations where satellite use is out of the question,” Galinsky says. At big live events, networks can save money by sending out fewer satellite trucks, too – using LiveU’s system as a backup, he adds.

In a twist on the usual business model, Galinsky says that LiveU provides its systems as part of a service package to clients. “Instead of selling customers our hardware and making them break their heads trying to figure out how to use it, we lease the equipment and provide them a turnkey broadcast system.” It just works out better for customers, he says – the folks LiveU deals with have enough on their minds already without wasting time and resources on the minutiae of TV broadcasting systems. “It’s a simpler, cleaner solution for most clients, we’ve found,” says Galinsky.

Meanwhile, LiveU, established in 2006, is growing by leaps and bounds, having set up pilot programs with several American broadcasters. The system is in use in Israel as well, with the Keshet (Channel 2) network using it for live audience chats and webcasts on several shows, as well as a broadcast system for a large sports site, with viewers able to see a variety of events in real time.

LiveU just got $9 million in a second round of funding, and is backed by some big VC names, including King and Partners, and Carmel Ventures. LiveU’s chairman is Yigal Yaacobi, of Israeli giant Allot Communications – another indication that LiveU is set for big things.

Just think – thanks to LiveU, you, me, and everyone we could soon become real live TV stars.