Vid-Biz: PBS, Livestream, Fring

NCR Rolling Out Blockbuster Kiosks in NY; 200 DVD-rental machines heading to the Big Apple in a bid to take on Redbox. (The Wall Street Journal)

VidQue Aids in Video Discovery; uses social filters to find the best videos across a variety of categories. (TechCrunch)

Video Calling Comes to the iPhone; upgrade from the Israel-based startup lets you receive free video calls on your iPhone. (GigaOM)

PBS Chooses LiveRail for Video Sponsorship Program; the public broadcaster will use LiveRail to deliver sponsor messages on its own video portal and across its network of member stations and syndication partners. (emailed release)

Livestream, Xfire Partner on Social Video Game Broadcasting; through the deal, Xfire will introduce a new service to its users allowing them to broadcast their game play to an unlimited number of viewers. (InteractiveTV Today)

Marcellus Launches Video Platform on Amazon AWS; the white-label video platform is aimed at SMBs to deliver, monetize, and track video viewership across the Internet. (Press release)

Univision to Launch Mini Ad Network; the company formed the Univision Partner Group, a collection of Spanish-language Web sites from the U.S., Latin American, and Spain. (MediaWeek)

Videoplaza Rolls its Eyes at Pre-Rolls (but Still Serves Them)

videoplazaIt’s about this time of year in Sweden when the days get longer — a lot longer since it is so far north. Too bad the folks at startup Videoplaza will miss most of that sunshine, since they appear to be spending all their time working. The small, Stockholm-based company creates ad server technology and has implemented two video ad innovations it says lets publishers better monetize time rather than just views.

Videoplaza CEO Sorosh Tavakoli told us that when he started the company 18 months ago, he and his team hated pre-rolls and were looking for a way to replace them. But the company held sobering talks with content publishers who, Tavakoli said, told his team “to stop reading the blogs — we need pre-rolls.” (We’re sure they meant stop reading all the blogs except NewTeeVee.)

Faced with that staunch reliance on pre-rolls, Videoplaza set out to try to at least make the format more palatable. Two problems the company identified with pre-rolls were the fact that they just disappeared once the pre-roll ran, and that viewers were seeing the same pre-roll too often. In response, the team implemented the iRoll and frequency capping.

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NewTeeVee Startup Watch: Trendessence, LiveRail, imcandy, Animasher, Heekya

What’s new on NewTeeVee this week? Lots and lots of online video startups. The beautiful summer weather doesn’t seem to be tempting anyone out of the office this year. And keep an eye on NTV for a couple more startup scoops to come this week.

First up, Trendessence: I mentioned this one in my BusinessWeek story this week. Young guys out of Stanford trying to match up major advertisers and independent online video producers. Very early, but they seem to be scoring the right meetings. One to keep an eye on. Palo Alto, Calif./San Francisco-based; bootstrapped.

LiveRail: Had originally offered a video ad marketplace, new plan is to license its video ad server and offer free publisher tools for managing ad relationships. San Francisco-based; just raised $500,000 from Pond Venture Partners.

imcandy: A video portal that gives submitters guidelines to make the videos somewhat organized and advertiser-friendly. Also has its own ad marketplace and, oh yeah…a personal sex video section. Our take: Doesn’t sound too distinctive other than the amateur porn bit. Based in Israel; has $100,000 in funding.

Animasher: Web-based tools to create crude but cute animations. Use their images and sounds or upload your own. Our take: It’s neat, but nothing amazing. Based in Sweden; bootstrapped.

Heekya: Helps you aggregate your online media to tell a story. Our take: We’ll withhold judgment till we see it but we don’t have a burning desire for yet another mashup tool. Washington, D.C. area-based; raised under $30,000 dollars as part of LaunchBox program.

LiveRail Raises $500K for New Track

LiveRail, a company that originally offered a video ad marketplace and has since changed tack to license its video ad server, has raised $500,000 from Pond Venture Partners. The company also announced today the release of a new free product, called Junction, for publishers to manage their ad relationships, similar to FreeWheel and

If you’ll forgive the pat on the back, we did predict LiveRail’s original model wouldn’t work when we first wrote about it last July.

LiveRail’s model…to try to get publishers to upload videos to its platform and categorize them, and advertisers to submit their ads and categorize them, then match the two (see example embedded above) — is just totally wrong for the current market.

LiveRail shut down the marketplace at the end of last year, according to CEO Mark Trefgarne. Bandwidth bills were too high to justify it.

Junction is being offered for free as a promotional tool for potential customers to pay for the ad server, said Trefgarne. The company now counts Quartz interactive, thePlatform, and Twistage as beta customers.

LiveRail, which has now raised “just under $1 million” total, is based in San Francisco and has five employees.