Artificial Intelligence

There are an army of cord cutters out there who have forgone cable and satellite TV for some combination of premium video subscriptions and the ever-present, but amorphous “internet.” But in many cases, when a user simply wants to flip on the TV and sit back with little to no involvement on their part, the existing solutions fall short. ShowYou is launching version 4.0 of its social video discovery product today hoping to fill the void.

The goal of ShowYou has always been to pull the best videos of the moment from across a user’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Vimeo, as well as those shared by the channels they follow within its own network.

“Our No. 1 job is to bring you the right videos — the best things, the most relevant things you might want to watch,” says founder and CEO Mark Hall.

With its new version, the company has introduced what it calls the “Smart Feed” to the iPad. The new feature, available this summer on the iPhone, offers the option to intelligently select the best video from a user’s feed, based on 18 criteria, and play that content in a fully passive back experience. Once in the video, users can view upcoming content via a carousel and simply tap or swipe to go to the next video. An autoplay option makes even that much unnecessary, should the user wish. In effect, ShowYou offers users the closest thing to an mobile version of the classic “boob tube.” The app can also be Airplayed to a TV set for a true lean back livingroom experience.

The company has improved its standard browsing experience as well, allowing users to switch between its Pinterest-like content grid, and a traditional feed that offers additional information on each video. This info includes such as which friends shared it, what they’re saying about the video on ShowYou and elsewhere, and a new clickable “topics” category that can be used to navigate and filter by area of interest. Finally, the company redesigned and simplified its channel tray, making it more straightforward to browse the various content channels one is following.

“The tablet presents a new, third kind of user experience paradigm,” says Hall. “We’re not quite in the fully interactive ‘lean forward’ mindset we experience in front of a computer; but we’re also not in a passive, lean-back mode, either. The key is to provide functional and useful ways to interact with the app, but to make that as easy as possible.”

ShowYou is basing its recommendations and categorization on the mountains of viewing data collected over the last 18 months of user activity, including over one billion signals across nearly 100 million videos that have been shared on its platform. ShowYou currently collects and processes over 11 million videos shared via the Facebook and Twitter feed of its app users.

ShowYou does not currently monetize its app, although the company did briefly offer in-stream promoted content via a pilot partnership with media agency OMD. At this stage, Hall and his team are focused entirely on delivering the most enjoyable video discovery and consumption experience on mobile devices. With success in that area will come a wealth of monetization opportunities going forward.

ShowYou 4.0 is available today for iOS 6 devices, including compatibility for iPhone 5 and iPad mini. With the launch ShowYou has also added over 100 new channels to those already on the platform such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, TED, and MakingOf. The company also added three new categories, Living,
Entertainment, and Style.

Social video discovery is a big problem to solve. As more and more eyeballs shift to the mobile Web, it will become and increasingly valuable one as well. ShowYou is in a strong position as one of the earliest market entrants and thus having some of the most comprehensive data and user insights in the game.

[Image credit: Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz]