What the CBS Clicker Deal Means for Live Matrix

Yesterday’s acquisition by CBS of Clicker is great news for one of my ventures, Live Matrix. It shows that what Live Matrix is doing is becoming even more valuable. But that’s just the beginning of the story — Live Matrix is fundamentally different from Clicker. It targets a different, and possibly larger, opportunity.

Clicker bills itself as the next-generation of TV Guide and the majority of Clicker’s content is mostly pre-recorded rerun videos of TV shows as well as other online professional video. The team at Clicker has, to their credit, done a phenomenal job of making a nice user interface to, and database of, online TV content.

However Live Matrix is not really competing directly with Clicker. Unlike Clicker, Live Matrix focuses exclusively on first-run scheduled and live events that take place online, and many of these events are not available on TV, or on Clicker, at all.

Live Matrix includes many more types of content than just video. Live Matrix’s index includes millions of scheduled online events, and much of this index is not aggregated or easily found anywhere else, including in Clicker.

Live Matrix makes it easier to provide and find live scheduled online events of all kinds with a suite of tools for event providers and event consumers. It helps event providers list their events and schedules, and promote them to interested consumers around the Web. It helps event consumers find scheduled online events of interest, and get reminders when events are about to start.

Live Matrix is not limited to just online TV events, it includes all types of online scheduled events. This is a major difference between Live Matrix and Clicker. Live Matrix has content that nobody else has, about events that are scheduled to happen on the most important medium today, the Web.

Why did Live Matrix make this choice? Because we want to be able to show consumers all kinds of events around an interest. If they are interested in the Olympics, we want them to be able to find scheduled video, audio, chats, and online sales that relate to that interest. We want to be able to tie together all the different kinds of events that are happening online around a topic. This provides consumers with the most value around their interests.

Live Matrix includes:

  • Live scheduled video streams of concerts, sports events, news, and conferences
  • Scheduled audio streams
  • Scheduled live chats with celebrities
  • Time-limited online shopping sales and deals
  • Scheduled online game tournaments
  • Live online product announcements and press conferences
  • Scheduled online release of pre-recorded content such as video “Webisodes” of online entertainment series, and the scheduled online releases of music videos, new albums and songs to buy, or reruns of popular TV shows.

Where Clicker and Live Matrix overlap slightly is around live video and audio events. But there are many other types of events, such as scheduled live chats and scheduled online sales, that Live Matrix covers but Clicker does not include because they are not “television.”

The Scheduled Web

Live Matrix is the first guide what I call “the Scheduled Web” — a Web of scheduled events that take place in time (for more on this trend, see: The Birth of the Scheduled Web). Of course there will always be a lot of events that happen online in a non-scheduled, spur-of-the-moment or on-demand manner, but there are and will also always be a significant number of scheduled events as well. In fact, as the technologies for streaming live content on the Web improve and bandwidth increases, the percentage of events that are live and scheduled is likely to increase in coming years. This is because the world itself is scheduled — certain types events happen in time, they have start and end times — things like sales, or live sports events, live entertainment events, shopping events, news and corporate events.

Live online events are not a temporary phenomena. In fact, as more people are connected online more of the time (thanks to mobile Internet devices), there is an even bigger potential audience for live online events than there is for live TV. Furthermore, there will always be certain kinds of content that is perishable, scheduled and live – and this is true on the Web as well. Live Matrix is the only source for finding this content right now. It’s some of the most highly-valued content on the Web.

The Clicker acquisition, along with the December 2010 acquisition of CastTV by Tribune, is evidence that media companies are starting to think about this category.  The current focus of media companies on the online TV space is going to naturally progress to the broader scope of live content online as there will be vastly greater numbers of scheduled live events happening online. As part of CBS, Clicker will undoubtedly focus even more on TV, leaving Live Matrix in an even more uncontested unique role as the best and only place to find out what’s happening now and what’s upcoming all around the Web.

Live Matrix: A Search Engine for Finding Perishable Content

One way of thinking about what Live Matrix does is that it’s a search engine for finding perishable online content, while that content is most valuable. It is also an alerting system that helps remind people to come view perishable content, while the content is still available.

In Live Matrix, not only can you find the best and most relevant upcoming perishable content (such as scheduled online events), but you can also RSVP to get reminded by email when it becomes available. This can be an advantage in some cases where knowing something first has value (you can trade on it, you can tweet it, you can make decisions based on it, you can buy it while it’s available, you can be the first to comment or ask a question, etc.).

On the other hand, Clicker focuses on less perishable content, like pre-recorded TV reruns. This content is also perishable, but not as perishable as live first-run content.

Most scheduled live online events are highly perishable — they decrease in value rapidly after they start and finish, so it matters to watch or participate in them as close to when they actually start as possible. For some live online events, it is not even possible to participate in them after they are finished (for example, you can’t participate in an online sale after it ends, you can’t play in a scheduled online game tournament once it’s over, you can’t participate and ask questions or make comments in a live chat with a celebrity after the fact.)

There are other cases where the content can be consumed later, but the experience isn’t as valuable – it is perishable because the experience is no longer as fresh or interactive.  For example, it’s just not the same to watch a sports event after the game is over and you already know who won, it’s not the same to watch a major cultural event like the dropping of the Ball on New Year’s eve in New York City after New Years has passed, it’s not the same to watch a live newscast or even sports highlights of a game days after it was first broadcast, it’s not the same to watch the unveiling a hot new product days after it’s already become old news. Not only is the information “old news” after the fact, but one also misses out on being part of the experience of sharing the event with other people – interacting with them, experiencing the suspense or drama of the event live, and being a part of the zeitgeist.

It’s important to note that perishable content can be live or pre-recorded, but in either case it is content that loses value quickly with time. It is content where there is great value to content providers and consumers in finding out about it before it becomes irrelevant or is no longer available, before it perishes.

Why Live Matrix is Needed

Live Matrix is sitting in the middle of this ecosystem, connecting the purveyors of perishable content with consumers who want it.

Perishable content has a shorter shelf-life and so providers of perishable content need to get as many eyeballs to the content as fast as they can before its value decreases. Live Matrix is an essential ally in this process, because it provides a way to inform the audience of the availability of perishable content during the time window when it is relevant and most valuable, and it actually reminds those who are interested to come while they can.

Similarly, consumers who are interested in various perishable content (such as live online sports coverage, or live online celebrity chats, or scheduled online auctions or special deals) need to find out about that content as early as they can, so they don’t miss it. They want the content before it perishes. Live Matrix helps consumers find and consume perishable content while it is available and most-valuable to them.

What’s Next for Live Matrix?

Live Matrix has been working hard on a number of new features that are going to make the site even more useful to consumers and content providers. These are launching soon. They include:

  • Personalized daily reminders via email for recommended and upcoming events of interest
  • A next generation widget that enables sites to use Live Matrix to provide schedules of their own events on their own sites, and to generate new ad inventory and content by including Live Matrix event schedules for topics like sports, entertainment, etc.
  • A major site redesign that streamlines registration and provides a much better look and feel

As a co-founder, board member, and investor in Live Matrix – I’m optimistic about the opportunity. Live Matrix is such a unique property, and it fills such a necessary role in the ecoystem. The Clicker deal shows that the industry is starting to notice this space and as the most unique property in the space, this is good for Live Matrix.