Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand will today launch Broadcast Services, a set of audio and visual Internet streaming services, offering a local version of what has been a flourishing operation in the United States for several years.
After recently expanding into the Web hosting market, Yahoo! Australia/NZ plans to provide streaming services on a mass scale for both corporate and entertainment customers. Grant Anderson, broadcast evangelist Yahoo! Australia/NZ said the local branch already has a major financial client coming onboard that should begin live streaming within two weeks.
The technology involved was developed several years ago in the US by AudioNet, a company that floated on the NASDAQ as Broadcast.com. Yahoo! acquired this company around 18 months ago and has been using the technology to host such live events as sporting contests, shareholder meetings and earnings calls, music concerts and fashion shows.
There are four services Yahoo! Australia/NZ will launch today. The first is the Key Announcements Audio Solution, for broadcasting the audio component of company announcements to employees, shareholders and the media over the Internet. It can be streamed to over 5000 users at around $3500 per call.
The second service is Y! Voice, where spokespeople can call a toll free number and record a message that is automatically published as an audio clip on a URL. This service costs $500 for an initial set-up fee as well as an ongoing hosting fee of $250-$350 per month.
The third service is Webcast studio, a set of audio and visual streaming tools with a custom look and feel, two hours of streamed content and hosting for 60 days. The service includes streamed audio and video to over 500 users, synched PowerPoint slides, and a stack of interactive features such as audience polling and a "question" manager for interactive discussion with the speaker. This costs around $10,000.
The final service is Yahoo! Custom Media Player, which can be branded for a company's look and feel, and used as both an Internet browser and for viewing streamed content.
Anderson said he is confident the services will be popular with Australian users, despite any limitations to bandwidth.
"There is no doubt broadband makes for an awesome viewing experience," he said. "But audio is an experience anyone can enjoy right here, right now, even on a 56Kbps connection. While video can have some buffering problems on a home dial-up, using the WebCast Studio, we place the video piece as part of an overall multimedia presentation."
Photograph: Yahoo! Australia/NZ's Grant Anderson.