Victoria's STN Creates a 'Facebook for Media'

CBC and CTV are household words for media watchers. Now Victoria tech startup SendtoNews Video Inc. wants to make STN a watchword in the news media, corporate world, and public relations trade.

Keith Wells, a former news and sports anchor at CHEK and BCTV (now Global) in Vancouver, started STN to provide a fast and convenient Internet-based way of sending video footage and related material. Art Aylesworth, former chairman of the board at Carmanah, is executive chairman of STN.

Simply described, it’s an improved file transfer protocol (FTP) system that handles large video files, a kind of YouTube for corporate videos and multimedia news releases. It claims to be up to 75 times faster than FTP or HTTP protocols.

STN’s unveiling follows “several hundred thousand dollars” in development work, starting in January 2009 with programmers in India.
Then a brand-new company, STN won the contract from Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee to provide media services at the Winter Olympics last year for all the non-rights-holders — those who hadn’t paid for exclusive Olympic coverage.

An unexpectedly large crowd of 1,450 sports writers, reporters, and photographers were assisted at the Robson Square media centre in downtown Vancouver, says Wells. STN recorded 114,000 connections from media people sending their reports home to magazines, TV, and websites — much heavier traffic than expected, but STN performed well, he adds.

Organizations as diverse as the RCMP and minor-league hockey teams now are using STN to get their stories and announcements out to news media outlets. RCMP in B.C. use STN to send out all their news releases. Many have extensive video footage — drug busts and weapons seizures, for example.

They used to send the files out one at a time, but with content totalling as much as 500 megabytes, it meant picking a media outlet to be first with the news. Now they’re posted to STN and newsroom clients get “pinged” that there’s a new police video media release. STN can handle multiple distribution of files up to two megabytes, including high-definition, video, audio, text, and photos.

“This will be a kind of Facebook for media,” Wells says.

Sports organizations like the ECHL’s Salmon Kings shoot their own player interviews and game highlights on the road and use STN to send footage to TV station newsrooms that couldn’t afford to send a reporter on the road. Canada’s national rugby, swimming, and triathlon organizations have also signed up with STN. The website allows newsrooms to preview the video offerings before downloading a broadcast-quality file.

“We’ve got a couple of hundred newsrooms taking content from us,” Wells says. There’s no fee for news organizations using the service, while all “content uploaders” pay $50 every time a newsroom downloads their material, up to a maximum of $200. High-volume users pay a flat fee starting at $300 a month.

STN launched a commercial version in western Canada after the Olympics and now is going national with the service.