It’s getting awfully crowded in the social video space. Yet there seem to be two distinct sides of the market which startups are attempting to tackle: content creation and content discovery. It’s the latter area where Showyou believes it has set itself apart from the pack.
When it first launched in 2011, Showyou was called the “Flipboard of Video,” offering users a simple and beautiful way to follow a wide variety of premium online video creators within a single interface. The service has since evolved into a social video network, with the aim of identifying the Web’s best video content through social signals.
Today, Showyou is launching a completely redesigned iPhone app to deliver this video curation, sharing within a purpose-built mobile experience. “We’ve had an iPhone app all along, but we’ve never felt like we’ve gotten it quite right — despite the fact that the iPhone app has also won raves and is included in Apple’s iPhone Essentials list,” says founder and CEO Mark Hall.
Unlike previous versions of its iOS app, the updated version eschews the standard reverse chronological feed in favor of a ranked list of the 20 to 30 “best” videos at any given time. The company sees more than 10 million video links per day – 300 per second at peak times – although with duplicates removed, this boils down to 200,000 unique videos per day. Sorting through this incredible volume of new content is no easy feat.
Beyond the home feed, users can find interesting video content through an improved search interface or by browse according to category or originating social network.
Showyou tracks over 2 billion pieces of “social signal data” to accomplish its ranking, including Tweets and Facebook “Shares” and “Likes” to surface and rank videos from people users follow on Showyou, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Vimeo.
Hall describes his company’s ranking algorithm as “a little like PageRank, but using social signals from heterogenous networks instead of backlinks.” In all, it looks at dozens of criteria including who shared the video, a user’s relationship with that person, and how many other people with a user’s various networks shared it. The ranking incorporates the time since the content was shared and the user’s most recent visit to Showyou.
“We think this new version of Showyou for the iPhone and iPod Touch will entertain and inform you every time you use it,” the CEO says. Showyou’s overarching goal of the service is to ensure that users can be confident that by spending a few minutes on Showyou each day, they are not missing anything important in the world of online video. This is a goal it shares with plenty of other products.
“At a high level, one of the biggest differences from [competing social video platforms] Klip, Socialcam, and Viddy is that we take into account a much broader set of videos, not just the ones people shoot on their mobile phones,” says CEO Mark Hall. “We have the single largest database of user-curated videos anywhere [55 million and counting]. These videos include everything from mobile videos — like you would see on Klip — to full-length programs from Comedy Central and TED that have been shared on Twitter, YouTube, Twitter, and more.”
The closest analog to Showyou would be the Chill, another social video curation and sharing platform. At this point Chill is a Web-only offering, while Showyou offers native experiences for iOS devices.
“There are some similarities to Chill.com, but Chill is mainly focused on curating videos,” says Hall. “While curating videos is an important part of what we do, we’re really about the discovery of good quality video content that is highly customized to each person.” This assessment may have been true when Hall and I spoke a day ago, but Chill’s release of a new “video front page” today places the companies in more direct competition.
Showyou doesn’t ignore sharing by any means. When users watch something they enjoy, they have a number of options to let others know. One-tap sharing options enable both private and public sharing of content across the network. Also, the “thank” button tells the original poster that their video was watched and enjoyed. Finally users can leave comments on any video on the site.
The final new feature announced today is one that is a bit of a concession to the limits inherent in watching video on a smartphone. The new app allows users to add videos to a “watch later queue” for viewing on the iPad, or on a Mac or PC.
Showyou announced today the addition of premium content from Funny or Die, IGN, Break, Daily Motion, Red Bull, Bleacher Report, and Ask Men. These are in addition to existing channels that include “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” The Verge, TED, and GigaOm.
“With this new version of Showyou, we think we’ve built the first truly great video app for the iPhone,” says Hall. “By harnessing the huge amount of social graph data we have coming in through Showyou, Twitter, and Facebook, users will now get a highly customized feed of videos based on what their friends are sharing, watching, and commenting on.”