OnTheAir: Why Just Video Chat When You Can Have Your Own Talk Show?

By Greg Kumparak , written on March 27, 2012

From The News Desk

My God, you're beautiful. Just look at you! Smart, too!

You should have a talk show.

Alas, the corporate big wigs just don't appreciate your pilot for "Guy From The Internet Talks About Cats And Things" nearly as much as they should. Well, forget them! You've got a camera! You've got cats! You've got things! What else do you need?

Ah, right. You need somewhere for people to watch you. That's where OnTheAir comes in.

Think of OnTheAir sort of like Google Hangout — but instead of a handful of people talking amongst themselves, it's built to let a handful of people talk in front of an audience of hundreds or thousands. One person acts as the host, inviting members of the audience up "on stage," as he or she sees fit.

When a member of the audience requests to be brought on stage, that person is placed in a queue located just below the main video stream. The host can see a preview of their webcam activity, serving as a quick way to ensure that any potential guests are ready to go. (By "ready to go", I mean that they are, in fact, wearing pants.) Each guest is asked to give a one or two line preview of what they want to discuss.

There's all sorts of room for creation here beyond cat talk shows (which everyone would totally watch, am I right?). Celebrities could do live, interactive video chats with fans. The industry's brightest could lead live classes, bringing students on the air to answer their questions. Bloggers, like yours truly, could sit down with readers to chat about this week's news, and hold live interviews on-the-fly.

Each event gets its own concert poster-esque page. A ticker counts down to showtime, with an RSVP button allowing people to be reminded when things go live.

OnTheAir chats are currently limited to one host and one guest at a time, though they tell me that's something they're planning to bump up pretty quickly — they're just limiting it for the sake of gradually testing their infrastructure. Also coming soon, hopefully: show recording. As it currently stands, the live chats are gone the moment the show comes to an end.

OnTheAir is built by LimeLight Labs, a team made up of a bunch of Apple/Google/Cooliris alums, with funding from the likes of Scott Banister, Tony Conrad, Will Smith (the investor, not the Fresh Prince), Ben Narasin, True Ventures, and Triple Point Ventures. Their seed round came in at $880k.

OnTheAir is currently in a super-limited private beta, which should open up a bit over the next few weeks. You can sign up to get in early here.