About a year after it received a federal patent on the technology, former media analyst Tom Wolzien’s Video Call Center has snagged its first major investor, former Gannet Co. TV station group TEGNA.
Wolzien, formerly a top media analyst with Sanford Bernstein, patented the Video Call Center last year, which enables television shows and networks to conduct live video call-ins much like talk radio programs.
With TEGNA as a “significant” investor, Wolzien said he will be able to move the product forward. TEGNA Media is the largest independent station group of major network affiliates in the top 25 markets in the U.S. Gannett announced its intention to separate into two separate entities – one for its newspaper and the other for its TV assets – in August 2014. It completed the separate on June 29. TEGNA has a total of 46 stations.
TEGNA Media said it plans to use the Video Call Center technology to create “innovative, original lower cost programming across broadcast, social, mobile and online media. Already VCC has produced about 100 hours of programming – including a month of live, daily shows on TEGNA’s KUSA TV station in Denver. The station used VCC as part of its coverage of the Colorado Theater Shooting Trial and featured experts, attorneys and callers from across the country exchanging questions and comments about the trial live on-air.
“We believe this digital technology will foster innovation in the area of live, interactive programming across multiple platforms,” said TEGNA Media president Dave Lougee in a statement. “This forward-thinking partnership positions us well digitally, and in the future, as the VCC seamlessly combines social media, television and the web to maximize viewer engagement.”
The VCC uses specialized and patented technology to build full shows of callers, screened in real-time, and selected live by the show’s host. Special techniques are used to improve video call reliability.
“The Video Call Center is re-inventing television and TEGNA’s investment will help speed that re-invention process across the industry,” Wolzien, founder, creator and chairman of The Video Call Center said in a statement. “Within five years, video caller television will be a mainstay among broadcast stations, cable networks and web services seeking to extend viewer interaction.”