RSS Syndication Meets Online Video - Splashcast MyPodcastNetwork Goes Live
RSS Syndication has long been a feature of blogs and websites, allowing publishers to share their work with a broad audience, and aggregate, arrange and publish that of others. Until now, though, syndicating and broadcasting online video and rich media hasn't been the simplest of prospects. All of that changed yesterday.
Splashcast has already established itself as a simple way to mash-up and publish online video, audio, images, documents and even PowerPoint presentations directly from a web application, and to a simple, easy-to-navigate web widget. Yesterday, however, a major update to the service introduced the ability to create online playlists from any RSS-enclosed media on the web.
What that means for independent publishers and the kids at MySpace alike is that you can now publish or aggregate podcasts and online video in a single player, effectively creating your own micro-broadcasting channels right from your web browser. Whether you want to create webcam VJ spots between your favorite music videos, compile entire series of podcasts to share with your website visitors, or even create a constantly updated web widget for your vlog or Internet TV show, MyPodcastNetwork might very well be the tool you have been waiting for.
In my full review of this latest addition to the Splashcast feature-set, I take you through:
- A brief overview of Splashcast and its functionality
- Some recent additions to the Splashcast list of features
- MyPodcastNetwork and its addition of RSS syndication to the capabilities of Splashcast
- A video introduction to the service from Marshall Kirkpatrick
- Potential uses that MyPodcastNetwork will be put to
- Tracking down RSS-enclosed content to syndicate, using the all-new Splashcast Catalog, alongside a list of other services
- A couple of areas where MyPodcastNetwork could improve
Splashcast rapidly set itself apart from the glut of web video hosting websites by offering a multimedia player that allows you to take your YouTube videos, Flickr photographs, music files and text and combine them into Internet TV shows and channels. With the added bonus of letting you add a soundtrack to your entire production, record video segments directly from your web-cam and even add audio narration to your images and videos, essentially Splashcast has provided until now a very capable micro-production and broadcasting solution for the web.
Making it possible to follow a slideshow with an online video clip, and then just as quickly change over to an audio podcast, variety has always been one of the greatest strengths of Splashcast, as I noted in my enthusiastic review at the beginning of this year.
Besides its full feature set, one of the things that also sets Splashcast aside is its simple, unpretentious media player, which doesn't show any of its branding or menu options until you roll over the video image, allowing you a clear, unhindered view of the media files you are viewing. In the following short video clip you can see the full range of features available through Splashcast, as Director of Content Marshall Kirkpatrick introduces the service:
In addition to the big news about RSS syndication and the launch of MyPodcastNetwork, there have been some other additions and improvements to Splashcast since I last reviewed it a few months ago. I was pleased to see that PDF and PowerPoint support have been added to the list of file types you can now use in your Splashcast shows and channels.
With its ability to create slideshows, record audio narration and web-camera video Splashcast was always a strong candidate for an all-in-one presentation authoring and publishing tool. By adding PowerPoint support - including the ability to rearrange your slides within the Splashcast editor - this process has now been made even easier.
The following video shows you the kind of results you can expect from your PowerPoint slides and an audio voice over:
''build a network of their favorite podcasts to put on their web-page or start-page, for personal consumption or to introduce their audience to their favorite shows.''
In other words, MyPodcastNetwork lets you do with web media what NewsMasters have been doing with news feeds for some time. While the NewsMaster sets up a range of well-targeted RSS Feeds and sifts them for content relevant to his audience, Splashcast now opens up the same possibilities for video and audio podcasts.
Let's face it, there are only so many hours in the day, and more content online than anyone could ever hope to sit through in an entire lifetime. Sorting through and selecting the cream of web media is an increasingly necessary task, and given that not everyone has the time to take on this role, you can provide a valuable service by creating your very own hand-picked selections of the best in video and podcast content.
MyPodcastNetwork gives you the chance to do just that from a single, easy-to-use web-based application.
In this video introduction to the service, Marshall Kirkpatrick demonstrates MyPodcastNetwork in action. Not only does he describe exactly what this major new release is all about, he also provides his very own selection of his favorite web video podcasts.
With over twenty hours of footage available you might want to be selective about which clips you watch, but this should give you a very good idea about what can be achieved with relative ease using this latest Splashcast feature.
Here are the details:
Syndicating media content really is as simple as creating a new show in the Splashcast console, and choosing 'RSS' as your media type. You are then given the opportunity to enter your own RSS feed, or else select podcasts directly from the new Splashcast Catalog, from Flickr, or YouTube.
When you have finished adding shows to your line-up, you are ready to publish. What's great is that every time a new episode of the shows you have included is released, it is automatically detected by any Splashcast players subscribed to that content.
Aside from the possibilities for video NewsMastering I can see a whole range of uses that this new Splashcast feature might be put to. Among the possibilities are:
- Creating a media content network - while there is only so much content that one person is capable of producing, a networked group of like-minded independent media producers could very well come together to create a desirable fusion of their talents.
Blog networks often prove successful through their ability to offer both consistency and variety in their content, and the same model could easily be applied to single or multiple groupings of different individual producers' work. Environmental video bloggers could team up with NewsMasters and citizen journalists, binding their work together into a single network, for instance
- Creating an easy to syndicate video-blog feed that can be embedded into not only your own website, but those of your viewers. Each time you record a new episode, everyone with the player receives an automatic update. This eliminates the need for your audience to come and visit your website and check to see if you have created a new video or not, as they will be the first to know via automatic update
- Creating your own feeds to keep track of the latest releases from your favorite online publishers, right from your own blog or start page
- Supplementing your blog posts with recommended viewing or listening playlists directly correlated to your latest subject matter
These are just a few ways that you could put MyPodcastNetwork to use, adding value content to your website.
Tracking Down Content
There's even more.
In addition to giving you the chance to put together aggregated or self-authored content using the full range of broadcasting tools, Splashcast also gives you a place to locate quality content for your network, or publicize your own feed to other users. This is achieved through the Splashcast Catalog, an online directory of podcasts from a vast range of genres and styles.
If you don't know where to start looking when it comes finding the latest podcasts and RSS-enabled Internet TV, the people at Splashcast have made it easy for you to find and syndicate a truly diverse range of content via their Channel Catalog.
Searching aside, this is also a great opportunity for independent video publishers and podcasters to increase their audience and get their work recognized beyond a small handful of friends.
You can access the Splashcast Catalog both directly from the Splashcast website and from the Splashcast console itself. The latter option gives you the chance to select shows to syndicate as you create your Splashcast broadcasts, without even having to enter the URL of the appropriate RSS feed. This means that you can browse through a list of descriptions and thumbnail images and search for content that interests you.
Furthermore anyone is welcome to submit the feed information for their own podcast, which has the double advantage of exposure on a major website coupled with making it even easier for Splashcast users to subscribe to your content. Once your show is added to the Splashcast Catalog, users will be able to subscribe to your feed directly from the Splashcast console, quickly adding your video and audio to their own networks.
If you somehow manage to exhaust the Splashcast Catalog there are still some other online destinations worth checking out for the latest content. I have put together here a basic list of some of the better ways to get hold of the latest RSS-syndicated video on the web. You could try:
- iTunes Podcast directory - at the risk of stating the obvious, iTunes is one surefire way to find the latest podcasts and RSS-powered video shows
- The Democracy Channel Guide has over 1000 channels that you can subscribe to
- Yahoo! Video Search has a Media RSS generator that will find podcasts for you by keyword
- News agency Reuters has a range of video news RSS feeds that you can subscribe to
- VideoBomb contains hundreds of user-submitted videos that you can subscribe to, or create playlists from
- Brightcove Syndication Marketplace has hundreds of RSS-enabled Internet TV channels that you can subscribe to
Room for improvement
The Splashcast team have really outdone themselves by bringing full-RSS support to their already feature-rich media publishing platform, and there is very little to complain about when a service brings you RSS-syndication, audio, video, text, PowerPoint and PDF publishing from a single easy-to-use platform. The issues that need addressing with the new features of Splashcast have already been touched on elsewhere.
As Huw Leslie notes in his Gizbuzz review one thing sorely lacking in the current Splashcast setup is the ability to display each individual podcast or video in a Media RSS feed. As it stands you can either display one episode at a time, or else the entire feed, with nothing in between. For those looking to use Splashcast to display and manage their podcast and video archives from their blogs and websites, this is a feature that could really do to be added. Fortunately, this is apparently a feature in development.
The only other downside I can think of has already been addressed by Steve O'Hear in his ZDnet review, and that is the current lack of any way of tracking how many people are watching your video content. As this may well be an important issue to those seeking to attract advertisers, or even just from curiosity, I hope that this is a feature that will be considered sometime in the future. Judging by the Splashcast Podcaster FAQ work is already underway on providing this functionality.
Splashcast was already an impressive platform for those looking to mix and publish multimedia programming, as I pointed out in bothmy original review of the service, and more recently in my guide to broadcasting yourself on the web.
Since writing my last review, however, Splashcast has added both a major new component, and other less dramatic but equally welcome additions to its already versatile line-up. The breaking news comes in the form of the ability to syndicate any RSS-enabled content on the web. This effectively means that you can now create your own custom Internet TV (and indeed radio) channels by aggregating and arranging content into meaningful or niche-targeted media streams without ever having to turn on your webcam or microphone.
Splashcast could well be a very useful tool for you if you want to:
- Gather the latest news audio and video from the web, and become an independent news provider
- Collect your own podcasts and make it easy for your audience to syndicate the whole lot, with the latest episode always coming out on top
- Create a media network and mix your own content with that created by other like-minds, building in the process a rich blend of thematically-linked content
- Simply keep up with the latest shows in your favorite podcasts, and have them automatically update on your start page, blog or social networking service home page.
RSS has already had a profound effect on how we interact with the largely text-based content of blogs and news portals. It is now enabling the easy syndication of rich media, and Splashcast has made significant progress in making this opportunity portable, web-based and easy-to-use.
Along with the fact that you can record web video and voice narration directly from the Splashcast console, import and arrange PDF, document and PowerPoint files and seamlessly blend them with web video, audio and images, there is little out there to rival the flexibility and range that Splashcast offers as a web broadcasting tool. Now armed with RSS-powered programming, it is possible to create hours and hours of non-stop, streaming media content tailored to your specific needs, or the tastes of your niche-audience.
The options available to bedroom broadcasters and rich-media NewsMasters just got a whole lot broader.
If you would like to learn more about MyPodcastNetwork, you might want to check out the following links:
- Marshall Kirkpatrick explains MyPodcastNetwork in detail
- The Splashcast Channel Search
- Splashcast Podcaster FAQ
- An in-depth breakdown of the MyPodcastNetwork service
- GizBuzz review of MyPodcastNetwork
- ZDNet review of MyPodcastNetwork
- CenterNetworks review of the service
- Mashable coverage of MyPodcastNetwork
- TechCrunch take on MyPodcastNetwork
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Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "RSS Syndication Meets Online Video - Splashcast MyPodcastNetwork Goes Live"
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