War Video Invades Broadband Web


War may be hell, but millions of broadband-connected Americans are tuning in to sites run by The Feedroom Inc. to see the video proof for themselves.

Since the United States-led attacks on Iraq began March 18, the broadband news video outlet has once again seen a spike in traffic to the sites it runs, according to CEO Jonathan Klein.

The company's main site (www.feedroom.com) has seen as much traffic in one day as it gets normally in a month since hostilities commenced, totaling some 20 million streams served to 4 million users. In addition to its own site, the company also administers video portals for the U.S. Air Force, 14 NBC owned-and-operated TV stations and, most recently, the Reuters news agency's new Raw Video service.

"It's extraordinary as everyone's is — it is through the roof," Klein said. "For Reuters, they have easily done 20 times the traffic that they normally do."

It's a familiar pattern for Feedroom, which saw the same sort of spikes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But a year and a half later, the site traffic is even greater, fueled by a residential broadband penetration that has reached almost 20 percent of U.S. Internet households.

Feedroom is finding that home broadband users aren't its biggest audience, though. Instead, more viewers are tuning into the portals it runs from the work place, where 50 million people now have access to a broadband connection, according to web Tracker Nielsen NetRatings Inc.

"That workplace audience, that is the prime target. That's the new big daypart," Klein said. "That's the whole value proposition — gone are the days when you can't watch TV in your office. Everybody can watch TV in their office."

For Klein, Feedroom's success once again shows that TV content can find a ready audience beyond the television screen. Audiences started catching onto that following the Sept. 11 attacks, and that has continued with the Iraq war.

"[Sept. 11] sensitized millions of people around the world to the fact you can watch television coverage of vital international events even if you are not in front of a television," Klein said. "And we are seeing that in spades now a year and a half later, because there is so much more broadband penetration."

That may explain why so many news outlets — including Cable News Network, ABC News and Reuters — have jumped on the Internet streaming video bandwagon these days.

"For the media companies, this is a major wake-up call, because they now realize that the audience can watch television anywhere they happen to be — even if they happen to be away from a television," Klein noted. "That has got profound implications if you are running a media company."