Growing viewership for online video may not be a new trend, but it is getting closer and closer to reaching a tipping point, when it’ll overtake traditional channels like broadcast television. Startups like Shelby.tv hope to be at the forefront of those changing media consumption practices, and the service just introduced new tools to try to better appeal to an engaged online video audience, even as its competition also ramps up efforts to draw crowds.
Back in October of 2011, Shelby.tv launched an early public alpha for web, iPhone and iPad. That was a “minimum viable product” version of what the service eventually hopes to provide, according to Shelby.tv CEO Reece Pacheco. In an interview, he told BetaKit that the new version just launched brings a new layer of features to Shelby’s simple Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook sharing mechanisms.
“We’re introducing a tool we call ‘Rolls’ that enables users to organize and curate videos into dynamic channels with friends,” Pacheco said. “if you’ve got some friends who love music videos for instance, you might create a roll for music videos and add your friends.” The new version also reveals more about Shelby.tv’s long-term bet, thanks to the underlying architecture which Pacheco says sets the company up for future opportunities to drive discovery and content exploration in the future.
Shelby.tv competes directly with Showyou, a social video discovery app for the iPad which just last week unveiled its new web-based client. Showyou encourages users to create and share their own Grids, an attempt to go beyond simply scraping social channels and culling video from Twitter, Facebook, and other networks. Now Shelby.tv looks to be following a similar path, since its Rolls are similar in function and purpose to Showyou’s Grids.
As far as the competition goes, Pacheco said that he thinks Shelby.tv will be able to differentiate itself by providing “a true lean-back experience,” similar to what users like about TV viewing.
“We want Shelby to be your home for video, so we make it all about watching great video easily,” he said. “That means being instant-on (like your TV) and playing video back seamlessly from one to the next, while also giving you the tools to save favorites, watch later etc… and we want to do that across all screens/platforms.”
As far as where specifically it’s headed next, Pacheco said that Shelby.tv will remain focused on the web and iOS for now, but eventually he wants to make the leap to Android and beyond, to any screen where video discovery makes sense.
Pacheco didn’t reveal much about his company’s plans for revenue (Shelby.tv currently provides its service free to users), but he did say the team has “some creative ideas.” For now, he and Shelby.tv are focused on building product, he said, in order to grow the platform’s user base and make sure engagement stays high. In pursuit of that, the site has been adding new video sources, which now include YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, College Humor, Blip, DailyMotion, Bloomberg and TechCrunch TV.
Facebook now accounts for 150 years worth of YouTube video viewing per day, and Twitter sees 400 tweets to YouTube posted per minute. A recent survey by mobile marketing firm InMobi found that users also now spend more time on their mobile devices than in front of their TVs per day. The conditions are right for video discovery to take off, but companies need to provide more than just a focused version of the things users are already seeing in their social media streams. Both Shelby.tv and Showyou recognize that and are taking the next steps toward building services that offer value as standalone products.