NY-based startup Watchitoo is expanding the concept of Social TV by adding live video of Internet fans and other commentators into TV broadcasts. According to Multichannel, the company has offered several networks a device that can incorporate feeds from up to 25 webcam participants into one HD telecast. Rony Zarom, CEO of Watchitoo, has said that many large programmers are interested, and that the device could be used for news shows, talk programs, and other live events.
Discovery Communications‘ Animal Planet has already used the Web-only version of Watchitoo’s system for a live online event during “Whale Wars:Viking Shores” in May, where participants debated over whaling issues. Watchitoo is selling two models of the one-rack-unit encoder. The unit that supports up to 720p HD and up to ten current streams is available for $5,000, and the unit that supports up to 1080p HD and 25 streams for $10,000. Additional fees are charged for hosting live feeds. The Watchitoo encoder, unlike individual Skype feeds, offers a virtual control room that lets users control video quality and set other parameters before broadcasting. The company was founded in 2007 and has 40 employees.