Online TV from BC Grad
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights
In 1998, Drew Massey had a great idea, but the world wasn't ready for it yet. Six years later, his dream of combining television and the Internet has become a reality. The result is ManiaTV!, the first online streaming live television channel, which has left plenty of people asking themselves, "Why didn't I think of that first?"
With nothing more than the Windows Media player free software and a broadband Internet connection, like the one available at Boston College, viewers can watch music videos and shows for free, without registration.
Massey graduated from BC in 1992 and began work with Forbes before starting a professional men's magazine, POV. He eventually sold the magazine in 2000 to GQ, which gave him time to begin working on ManiaTV!
"In some ways, we're going against the grain," Massey said in an interview with The Heights, "but in another way, it makes total sense. We broadcast on the medium that is the favorite of the youth market. We're playing music videos, short films, sports features, skateboarding videos, all the stuff college kids with high-speed Internet access want to see."
Without the FCC regulating the channel's programming, ManiaTV! is free to broadcast music videos like Eminem's new controversial video, "Mosh," though it is still edited.
When Massy first envisioned ManiaTV!, the Internet wasn't ready. Instead of rushing into pursuing his dream before the Internet could support it, Massey waited until broadband Internet access hit a critical mass.
"We waited until there were 20 million viewers with broadband, which is the same number of cable TV subscribers there were when MTV launched," Massey said.
The comparison with MTV, or at least what MTV was when it first started, is an appropriate one. ManiaTV! is leading the way into uncharted territory, earning comparisons to William Paley's CBS and Ted Turner's CNN.
The biggest advantage of ManiaTV! over MTV is that Cyber-Jockeys (CJ's) host live shows and chat with viewers in real time over webcams and Instant Messenger.
Massey said: "We believe that the viewer will enjoy the community. You can chat with the CJ's and request a song. Within a few seconds, everyone is watching your video. People already have TiVO, they have OnDemand, but most people would prefer to watch something live."
ManiaTV! is not only the first online live channel that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the only television station anywhere that is live all the time. That means no repeats.
Since going online on Labor Day, www.maniatv.com has enjoyed more than 12 million hits in eight and a half weeks. The site's October traffic doubled from September and Massey said, "We haven't even really started marketing yet."
ManiaTV! specifically targets the young, hip, and technologically savvy, and the station has found major interest from advertisers. Whereas a regular hour on television might contain 16 minutes of commercials, there are only a few minutes on ManiaTV!.