NBC News Acquires Mobile Streaming Company

NEW YORK—NBC News has acquired Stringwire, a company that develops technology for user-generated live video, and hired its founder Phil Groman, who will take on the new title of Product Lead and will be based out of the NBC News Digital Group’s San Francisco office.

Stringwire was developed by Groman as a service for news organizations to request video from a network of verified contributors with connected mobile devices capable of streaming video across the globe. For breaking news and stories that have a real-time visual component, Stringwire’s services provide the ability to recruit and direct contributors based on geographical location through Twitter, and to instantly access live footage. Aside from Groman’s use of Stringwire during Hurricane Sandy and the Kenyan elections, NBC News will be the first media organization to use the technology for live event coverage.

“Stringwire is at the leading edge of user-generated video products, with immediate value to our on-air and digital businesses. Long term, we think there is great commercial potential” said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NBC News. “Phil is an incredibly talented developer and inventor who will bring a wealth of innovative and entrepreneurial experience to the NBC News Digital Group.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Schiller alluded to Stringwire’s crowd sourcing capability, which would allow the network to access multiple feeds of the same breaking news event. This was most recently demonstrated during the July 6 Asiana jet crash in San Francisco where user generated images and video shot from the terminal were among the earliest images shown on TV.

“You could get 30 people all feeding video, holding up their smartphones, and then we could look at that,” Schiller told The New York Times. “We’ll be able to publish and broadcast some of them. Wherever you see a swarm of eyewitnesses on Twitter, that’s the sweet spot for Stringwire.”

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.