The iPad is a wonderful device to watch videos on, and a number of startups are aiming to provide users with interesting new ways to discover the best videos to watch. Most of these apps — like Showyou, or Squrl, or Fanhattan, or Shelby.tv — have some sort of a social discovery component, which allows users to see what their friends are watching, and conversely, share other videos with them. Most of them also tap into freely available videos on the Internet, although they occasionally partner to surface videos from major content players like Hulu or Netflix.
There’s another app maker that is taking a stab at powering social video discovery — but it’s doing so a little differently. For one thing, the new Ringz.TV iPad app, from RingGuides, is designed a little like an old-school electronic programming guide, but on the iPad. It provides a concentric ring of videos and content providers, which users can drill down into to discover more granular pieces of content.
The top level interface, for instance, is a list of content companies, which include both online-only producers like Machinima, as well as cable TV networks like truTV. Once you click through, the ring of content providers is replaced by a list of content choices, which are curated and include intermittent “featured clips,” which are basically just ads. Users can then create their own curated “rings” of content, which can be watched as a continuous channel or shared with friends.
The interface is based on the Ikonic Navigator EPG, which it owns the patent to, and is the product of many hours of customer research at CBS Television’s testing lab. It’s built to leverage the kind of channel surfing that is enabled by a touchscreen device like the iPad.
Part of the reason that the Ringz.TV app operates in the way it does is that CEO Robert May believes all the videos that the app showcases should be monetized, and partners should get a share of revenues. The EPG, therefore, is designed to support that business model. There are also a number of ways that Ringz.TV can highlight new content — by using using trending topics and allowing content partners to buy hashtags to promote their videos.
Launch partners include AnyClip, BAMM, MetaCafe, and Turner Broadcasting’s truTV, but the app will also allow users to highlight their own videos that are uploaded to Facebook or available in their iTunes libraries. For now, most videos are short-form promotional material. But as time goes on, May wants to bring more long-form video onto the app.
While the Ringz.TV iPad app is a cool way to watch video on that device, the company isn’t stopping there. It wants to enable crossplatform viewing on other devices as well. So it’s working on building apps for other devices — like iOS and Android mobile phones, and you could maybe even find the EPG on connected TVs and other devices in the future.