NBC News announced Monday the purchase of Stringwire, a web service that live-streams cell phone video.
The move is a bet that streaming live phone video will be the next trend in covering breaking news. The acquisition also brought creator Phil Groman to NBC.
"Stringwire is at the leading edge of user-generated video products, with immediate value to our on-air and digital businesses. Long-term, we think there is great commercial potential" said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NBC News. "Phil is an incredibly talented developer and inventor who will bring a wealth of innovative and entrepreneurial experience to the NBC News Digital Group."
Schiller envisions using Stringwire to cover events like the protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo or the Boston Marathon bombings. Getting reporters to a live scene could take time, but where there are crowds, there are cell phones.
Here's how it works: People tweeting about an event will get a Twitter message asking them to point their phone cameras at what they are seeing. After clicking a link, video will automatically begin streaming live to NBC News. From there, NBC News can vet the video.
While Stringwire will initially be used by the news division, Schiller told the Times that she thought the service had “great commercial opportunities,” suggesting that it could be licensed to create a new source of revenue for NBC.