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Video is a difficult media format when it comes to discovery and sharing. Unlike photos, and even text to a lesser degree, it’s inherently difficult to judge, at a glance, whether a video will be interesting and worth consuming. As the volume of online video increases exponentially, and generations of viewers begin to shift away from traditional television toward the Web, solving this problem becomes increasingly urgent.

Redux has spent the last six years targeting this problem through its smart TV apps. Previously, the company has signed partnerships with Samsung, SONY, and LG, putting its platform in more than 40 million living rooms. Today the company announced a distribution partnership with PlayStation that will mark its first foray into the console category and increase its distribution figure number to 100 million devices. Playstation will also add unspecified millions of dollars worth of marketing support, according to Redux founder and CEO David McIntosh.

But while continuing to build its lean back video discovery product, Redux has been working behind the scenes on a new lean-forward mobile solution that could have more impact on the future of video discovery than anything it’s done to date. As McIntosh correctly points out, the key to success on mobile is instant gratification, something that is historically absent in video solutions. The result of this realization is Redux’s new content format called Riffs, which are similar to GIFs but more easily created from existing video content by everyday users, using the Web-based Riffsy creation tool. Riffs are also optimized for mobile and easily sharable within the Riffsy mobile platform and across other channels like iMessage, email, and social media. Redux calls them “GIFs with benefits.”

The critical thing about Riffs is that they link back to the original video, making them a micro-preview or trailer for the longer form content that would otherwise be difficult to evaluate. Riffs, which are limited to 10 seconds in length, are meant to be non-threatening to video creators. Rather they offer a simple, bite-sized unit which is readily sharable, consumable, and ideal for driving traffic back to full-length content. Previously, the alternative was to send a link to a full length video and tell the recipient, “You have to see this. Start at 2:31.”

Not surprizingly major networks and creators including Machinima to Geek and Sundry have already begun using Riffs to market their content. The app has also been quietly available in New Zealand for approximately two weeks, where it rose to a Top 50 overall iPhone app, and passed 3 million Riff views.

Riffsy’s iOS app, which supports iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, offers a stream-like consumption experience similar to standard social content apps like Instagram and Pinterest. As a user scrolls through their stream each video auto-plays to offer a quick visual teaser, to what itself is a 10 second teaser video, all of which goes back to the goal of instant gratification. When shared, Riffs play inside iMessage, email, or other social platforms.

Yeah No RiffJonah Hill Riff

The biggest limitation of Rifs is one that the company claims will be removed in future updates: at launch, Riffs do not support sound. This no doubt makes it difficult to send the best one liners and other content which is dependent on audio. A small consolation is that the Riffsy Creator platform allows the user to add text to annotate or enhance its micro-video clips. Another minor quibble with this otherwise attractive platform is that while Riffs are ideal for consumption via mobile, as of today, they can only be created on the Web. This is likely more an issue of engineering resources for the small 12 person Redux team, but it’s one that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Redux’s founder has a big vision for Riffs, imagining that they can one day become the default way of discovering and sharing online video content. To that end, the company plans to release APIs that will enable partners to integrate Riffs into third-party connected TV, mobile, and TV everywhere apps, as well as mobile messaging and video apps. The company is already working on an integration with Kik messenger.

Redux, which has 12 employees, has raised $8.11 million over multiple rounds from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Alsop Louie Partners, and Peter Thiel.

Ultra-short-form social video isn’t a new concept. It was first pioneered by Viddy, and then Vine and most recently Instagram. All three of these companies instituted sub-15-second limitations on video length and found viral success as a result. But each was also focused on user-generated-content. Riffsy, however,  is the first company to my knowledge to apply this concept to sharing snippets of existing, often-premium video. The viral coefficient should be similar, but the subject matter is far more compelling.

The remain challenges ahead for Riffsy. Despite its instant utility, this concept is best when functioning within a massive network. And those don’t get built overnight. The company will need to continue getting its Riffsy Creator tool in the hands of content owners and influencers with the hope that the viral nature of the product will take over. The company also faces the risk of competing video discovery platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and Chill, or other social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Vine, duplicating this idea before it has time to grow roots.

Despite these obvious challenges, Riffsy is extremely compelling as a solution to the mobile video discovery problem. Anyone who has ever seen a hilarious GIF spread like wildfire across the Web – typically returning to your screen multiple times within a several day period – can attest, this is a viral format. By supercharging the lowly GIF with links back to the original long-form content, not to mention easy creator tools and mobile optimization, Riffsy could take this viral effect to another level. Don’t be surprised when one ends up in your iMessage or email inbox before long.

Riffsy iPad