SnapStream TV monitoring software

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SnapStream Media
SnapStream's fifth generation platform
"Find anything said on TV."
Developer SnapStream
Type DVR / search engine
Storage 3 to 30 TB
Input Tuners: 4 to 10 channels
Platform Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X Snow Leopard and above

SnapStream is a cross between a DVR and a search engine that enables organizations to monitor television based on the closed captioning mandated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)[1] attached to every program. The hybrid DVR-search engine is a product of convergence from Houston-based software developers at SnapStream, originally known for their consumer product Beyond TV.

Mac[2] or PC users can connect to SnapStream, a rack-mounted appliance, via the Web-based interface.[3] One SnapStream TV search engine can record up to 10 channels simultaneously[4] and internally store 30 TB,[5] which equals approximately 34,000 hours of video content; the absolute archiving capacity depends on the user-selected recording quality (at X megabits per second).

On the fifth generation platform, multiple SnapStreams can cluster or link together to provide indefinite scale for multi-channel recording, archive depth and processing power.[6] In this client-server model, SnapStream (hardware pictured above) acts as the server dedicated to managing TV storage, recording via TV tuners and handling other processing tasks. Computers on the same local area network (LAN) can receive this stream of information by connecting to SnapStream's Web-based software client.

TV search[edit]

Often referred to as a TV search appliance,[7] SnapStream allows organizations to closely interact with television from a Mac or a PC, using a graphical user interface and electronic program guide similar to familiar consumer products like Beyond TV, TiVo and Sky+.

All recorded programs are indexed in real time, providing a live platform to search inside television with the user mechanics of a web search engine. Type in a string of keywords to pull up relevant search results, click on a video to watch it and view the program in key context with the closed captioning displayed. The user can then collaborate with television by creating TV clips in portable file formats, such as WMV and H.264, to e-mail or burn to DVD.

TV alerts[edit]

To automate repeat searches, the user can configure SnapStream TV Alerts, which are keyword-generated e-mail notifications based on a prescribed set of search terms. It works similarly to Google Alerts, yet instead of pushing news from the Web, SnapStream TV Alerts extracts news from traditional television.[8]


In addition to TV search and TV alerts, SnapStream provides the following features:[9]

  • TV clips: the ability to cut out and save a segment from a full-length program
  • Multi-channel recording: the ability to monitor several channels simultaneously
  • Streaming: the ability to play back video on other computers over the LAN
  • SmartChapter: the ability to automatically detect scene changes, including commercials, and then jump quickly between them
  • ShowSqueeze: the ability to transcode or compress your TV recordings to other formats
  • Clustering: the ability to scale up tuners, storage and processing power by integrating multiple SnapStream nodes
  • Transcripts: the ability to download, view and search transcripts[10]
  • API: the ability to programmatically interface with SnapStream's software and combine third-party tools[11]


Organizations in a variety of industries use SnapStream to monitor television. Local government agencies use TV clips to support "messaging strategies, media training for government officials and law enforcement investigations," according to Government Technology Magazine.[12] Public Information Officers at the City of Houston, the City of Greenboro, N.C., the Anaheim Police Department, the City of Round Rock, TX and the City of Austin, TX all use SnapStream for these purposes.[12][13]

In news, politics and entertainment, SnapStream's TV search technology has contributed to the sound-bite culture. Online news outlets like Talking Points Memo and pop culture news outlets like E! Entertainment Television's The Soup use SnapStream to pull clips into production for commentary.[10][14] The Daily Show and The Colbert Report also "famously rely upon" SnapStream.[15] High-profile political clients have included Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[14]

"Journalism schools at places like the University of Missouri and Emerson College use it for research and analysis," according to the Columbia Journalism Review.[16]

Recent news[edit]

In April 2010, SnapStream released the world’s largest DVR,[17] a 50-channel TV search engine that can log 13 years of television. This developed as a result of clustering together five SnapStreams with unified search and archive functionality.[18][19]

In June 2011, SnapStream launched a new Web-based interface for Windows, featuring a Web Player plug-in that supports playback and clip creation in the Web browser.[20]

After over a decade of developing software for Windows, in January 2012, SnapStream added support for Mac OS X users with its new Mac Web Player.[21][22]


  1. ^ Federal Communications Commission closed captioning information
  2. ^ GigaOm article - Snapstream brings TV monitoring to the Mac
  3. ^ Electronista article - SnapStream releases Mac client for web-based video searching
  4. ^ News article on Lostremote
  5. ^ Broadcasting and cable article
  6. ^ TV News Check article - SnapStream Intros New Search, Storage Technology
  7. ^ TV News check news article
  8. ^ Search engine land article
  9. ^ Federal Emergency Management Agency Knowledge Base
  10. ^ a b article - How Talking Points Memo Gets News First with SnapStream
  11. ^ SnapStream Developer Community
  12. ^ a b Government Technology article - TV Search Engine Monitors Mentions of Local Government Agencies
  13. ^ Austin360 article - News industry secret: we have Super DVRs
  14. ^ a b Columbia Journalism Review article - Stream of Consciousness
  15. ^ Engadget article - The Daily Show and Colbert Report changing video capture tech for the switch to HDTV
  16. ^ TechCrunch article - Snapstream Mini Is A DVR On Steroids For Enterprises
  17. ^ Gizmodo news article - SnapStream releases the world's largest DVR
  18. ^ Engadget article feature - SnapStream's Monster DVR Records 50 Channels at Once Even When Nothin's On
  19. ^ Gizmodo article - World’s Largest DVR Records 50 Shows At Once, Saves 13 Years of TV
  20. ^ SnapStream's product announcement - Experience TV Search in your Web browser (SnapStream 5.3)
  21. ^ Engadget article - SnapStream TV monitoring now lets OS X users keep tabs on amusing video-blunders
  22. ^ Tuaw article - Snapstream industrial-strength DVR gets Mac browser client