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SRSWOWcast.com Launches Entertainment Site

Web entertainment is dead? Don't tell that to SRSWOWcast.com (http://www.srswowcast.com). It launched a net entertainment site on Tuesday featuring on-demand short-form video and audio programming.

If SRSWOWcast.com seems to come out of nowhere, that's because it has. It's a subsidiary of SRS Labs. SRS makes audio enhancement products for use in stereos, gaming systems and other products that give audio a richer, bass-filled, 3-D sound. The company's using this technology to enhance its crop of content, since SRS WOW is bundled with Windows Media Player 7.

"We use our technology to attract high tech partners," says Chuck Cortright, President of SRSWowcast.com. It is also attracting many name brand celebrities to host its shows using a mix of compensation, stock and revenue sharing, says Cortright. SRSWOWcast already announced shows hosted by media psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, Terry Murphy (formerly from Hard Copy) and weathercaster Terry Burhans. Although Cortright refused to say how much hosts were paid, it's likely similar to a deal William Shatner did with Priceline.com, where he got millions in stock options. Since SRS Labs is a public company, deals like this are relatively easy.

Interestingly, SRS is a firm backer of Microsoft. Its streaming enhancement software isn't available for RealPlayer and there are no plans to support them, either. (For those who want a similar product for the RealPlayer, check out QSound's plug-in at QSound.com. QSound also makes a Windows Media audio enhancer.) To accommodate Mac and Real users, SRS also makes an external hardware device called the WOW Thing that connects to computers and enhances any sound.

SRS' technology can also be what makes them different. SRSWOWcast can distinguish itself from failed or struggling content companies like DEN or Pseudo because it can fall back on its core audio technology. "We don't play the Hollywood game," he said. "We don't pay executives million-dollar salaries and buy content--we create the content ourselves." Still, companies like FasTV.com and On2.com had underlying technology and they still fizzled. FasTV went out of business recently despite their video searching business, while On2.com stopped focusing on content and is now concetrating on their video compression technology.

Launching a net entertainment initiative in this environment does seem brave, however. What about the naysayers out there who say that the web just isn't a place for entertainment? Cortright explains that most of the content on the site is between one and fifteen minutes long. "Between the amount of time people spent in front of the computer at home and work, they want to be entertained," he said. "People won't sit down to watch 1 hour movies--I totally agree with that."

Programming that debuted today includes: WOW Entertainment with host by Terry Murphy, WOW on the Couch with Dr. Carole Lieberman, WOW Weather, daily news and horoscopes, a cooking show (rebroadcasted from local cable stations) plus a large music and radio site. The better to show off its streaming audio enhancement technology.

SRSWOWcast wasn't the only entertainment site launching this week. Yesterday, a Silicon Valley company called AnyCo Network (http://www.anyco.com) unveiled its interactive satire webcast site. Users can follow the soap-opera story of a fictional "Silly Valley" company through a bunch of webisodes. "It's not TV on the Web -- it's the Web," said Chief Executive Officer, Linda Henry. "Viewers come to AnyCo.com to have fun and participate in the creation of a company. The company happens to be fictional, but the outlet is purely creative and allows for audience participation in the creative process in ways not possible using traditional media."

The premiere at AnyCo Monday introduced four new employees. The site includes chat rooms, bulletin boards and live webcasts, too.

SRSWOWcast's site also features a variety of interactive elements and is admittedly a much more ambitious site. Plus, SRS plans on having more shows (like sports and finance) as well as rolling out some live content. It is also looking to syndicate shows on other sites.

With the closing of DEN and Psuedo's reorganization into a live webcasting model, there is certainly room for another big content site.

Whatever happens with SRSWOWcast.com, the company must still prove itself to a wide audience and with its investors. "I think we're different," says Cortright. "We have a team of people that are very experienced in doing this and using our technology."

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