Investors have pulled the plug on Toronto-based Internet broadcaster WorkdayTV.com, leaving a cult following of office workers without their daily on-line dose of financial news.
"We've been Webcasting for about a year, and up until a week ago we were broadcasting eight to nine hours a day," Garth Turner, WorkdayTV's chief executive officer and a television broadcaster known for his personal finance programs, said.
"It was a very ambitious project, and we basically determined that it was overly ambitious ... Canada was just not ready for eight hours a day of on-line coverage," he added.
Visitors to www.WorkdayTV.com are greeted by the message: WorkdayTV will be OFF-AIR until further notice.
Mr. Turner said the operation is "indefinitely off the air in its current format," and the site will be taken down in the near future.
Launched April 12, 2000, the venture started in a mobile studio in the back of a truck parked in Toronto's financial district and later moved into a studio on Bay Street. WorkdayTV.com's live anchors broadcast streaming video on the Internet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, providing investment industry news aimed at office workers with Internet access.
The operation used a television advertising model, selling promotional spots to companies such as Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Marathon Mutual Funds, BMO Investor Line and Yorkton Securities. Mr. Turner said an increasingly chilly Internet advertising market was at the root of the decision to close down.
"The advertising base of WorkdayTV is pretty exclusively on-line discount brokerages, and we all know the difficulties that market is facing these days," Mr. Turner said. "We were seeing a substantial amount of caution in our core advertising community toward ongoing support for ventures such as WorkdayTV."
But he added that WorkdayTV shouldn't be lumped in with the growing list of dot-coms that have melted down in financial distress.
"This is not part of the dot-com carnage, that's not an appropriate assumption," he said. "WorkdayTV made money from day one and made money to day zero. It always made a profit and nobody lost a nickel on it - this was a go-forward decision, strictly a business-model decision."
Mr. Turner said another problem was the lack of people in Canada with high-speed Internet access. He said the quality and performance of the video over dial-up connections was low, and viewers really needed high-speed access to get the most out of WorkdayTV's programming.
At its peak, the site was attracting about 5,000 simultaneous viewers.
"We were definitely ahead of our time in terms of the number of people with high-speed Internet," he said. "In a couple of years, with high-speed in half the [homes and businesses]in the country, this would be a whole different ballgame."
Just one job was lost due to the shutdown, according to Mr. Turner, and other employees are being absorbed by Millennium Media Television, the company run by several of WorkdayTV's backers.
Millennium's five shows that are broadcast on traditional television are unaffected by the decision to shut down WorkdayTV, he added.
Mr. Turner added that the company hadn't ruled out another run at Internet broadcasting in the future. "We'd need to be able to prove and audience of tens of thousands a day, and the market will be there in time."