With 35 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the Google-owned video behemoth would be the second largest search engine were it standalone site. Web video has become a powerful medium. But, I think it’s also fair to say that this powerful medium is in serious need of curation. What if you’re just looking for a quick laugh, a short video, and don’t want to wade through billions of videos — what if you want to create your own, personally curated streaming video channel? Hmmm? Thankfully, content curation has come to video: ShortForm shows it’s here to stay.
The San Francisco-based startup allows users to create personalized channels of web video content, easily pulling clips from YouTube and other video sites. You can play videos back-to-back to create a stream of video, not unlike the TV viewing experience. Creating custom channels is simple, and I would say the UI is more user-friendly (or at least more attractive) than that of YouTube.
ShortForm curates its own videos, but the real focus is in encouraging its users to become VJs (video jockeys), curating their own channels. And with the recent addition of an embed-able widget, publishers can embed their own video player and curated channel lineups on their site. This means that the channels you create on ShortForm are available anywhere. It’s these kind of additions that pushed the startup past the one million users mark.
So ShortForm has all these visitors, but how is it going to make money? The startup is planning to place interstitial ads between videos. The Interstitial ads will be in the camp of video promotions that feel more like content and are fun to watch, ShortForm CEO Nader Ghaffari said, and they’ll be targeted based on channel context, so sports channels will get sports related video promotions. The cool part, though, is that even though the interstitial ad model will be rearing its annoying head, the startup plans to share its ad revenue with its VJs. After all, it’s the VJs who create the channels.
“When it comes to mixing the world’s videos into channels, we want our VJs to have all the tools at their disposal to make VJ-ing channels fun and easy”, Ghaffari told me. “We are integrating with Vimeo in the coming weeks, for example, so our VJs can mix YouTube and Vimeo videos, and soon we’ll be adding new features for VJs to further personalize their channels”.
ShortForm also has a leaderboard that lets VJs see how their channels are doing relative to other VJs, and viewers can scan it to find channels of interest to subscribe to. ShortForm also plans to provide VJs with more social feedback on their channels, like who has watched, shared, liked, and subscribed, for example, and VJs will be able to add commentary into their channels.
But, as you are probably readying your comment for the comment section, I should say that ShortForm isn’t the only video curation startup in the game. VodPod lets users share collect and share videos with their friends and Magnify.net allows website publishers to make video channels for their sites. ShortForm differs from its competitors in that it, unlike VodPod, it enables back-to-back streaming, and, unlike Magnify, is focused on the consumer rather than enterprise.
The startup is also teaming up with CollegeHumor (one of my favorites) this week to launch a best video contest on Facebook, which will allow users to watch and vote for their favorite videos on CollegeHumor. Once a vote has been registered, a leaderboard can be accessed that shows the leading vote-getters. Check it out.