SnapStream Media enters new line of business – Houston Chronicle


Houston’s SnapStream Media, best known as the platform that lets late-night talk shows find news clips to make fun of, is getting into a new line of business, providing compliance and monitoring services to broadcasters and cable TV networks.

The company has taken over a service called Volicon previously offered by Verizon, SnapStream CEO Rakesh Agrawal said. It provides confirmation to advertisers that their commercials actually ran, and lets broadcasters prove they are in compliance with FCC mandates.

“This is a separate business from SnapStream TV Search, but the two are complementary,” Agrawal said.

Privately held SnapStream, which launched in 2000 as a company that made software for TV cards inserted into consumer PCs, changed its focus in 2007 to making broadcast and cable TV programs searchable via closed-caption text. It later added a feature that makes it easy for TV content creators to post video clips to social media.

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Its TV Search program is used by such high-profile shows as “Last Week with John Oliver” on HBO, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS. Other customers include TV news operations, government agencies and police departments.

The Volicon product originally was scheduled to be discontinued, Agrawal said, but protests by customers who relied on it led Verizon Digital Media Services to rethink its plans. In April, SnapStream took over support of Volicon and began building its features into a new product called SnapStream Monitoring and Compliance.

The service can let advertisers know when and where their commercials ran. It also can be used by a broadcaster or cable network when a complaint is made to the Federal Communications Commission, Agrawal said.

“Let’s say that the FCC gets a complaint that CNN wasn’t sending out close-captioning for five minutes at a certain time,” he said. “The FCC goes to CNN and says, ‘Prove to me that captioning was present, or you’ll pay a fine.’ CNN would provide the compliance recording to show that captioning was in there.”

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The service also lets TV stations monitor what their competitors are doing, including using a graph derived from Nielsen ratings data to see what a broadcaster was airing at a given time.

The launch of the new operation coincides with the National Association of Broadcasters convention in New York this week.

The new business is part of a growth initiative by SnapStream, which has more than doubled its office space and support staff. SnapStream also hired a new vice president of sales and is in the process of looking for its first director of marketing, Agrawal said.

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