Ooyala Launches Discovery Guide For Personalized Channels, Hook Plugin For Android Mobile Video Viewing

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A Leaner, Stronger, More Modest Y Combinator

Video distribution platform Ooyala wants to get more people watching more video on more devices. That’s its job, right? Well, ahead of NAB, the company is launching a couple of features that will help do just that. That includes a new discovery engine that its clients can use to extend the amount of time people spend watching their videos. It also includes a plugin for improved video viewing on Android devices and a way to connect with *ahem* connected TVs.

The new Ooyala Discovery Guide provides a way for its customers — big media companies with lots of videos — to increase the number of videos that viewers end up watching. The product works with both linear and on-demand video feeds and provides a list of videos that users might want to watch next.

Using behavioral data, as well as content metadata, program schedules, and other information, the Discovery Guide offers up a TV-guide-like directory of content to choose from. But it’s done in a way that is probably more enticing for viewers, as each guide is personalized to fit their specific tastes or viewing patterns. Even if users aren’t watching the content immediately, they can save it for later with a new DVR-like feature.

In tests with viewers, the discovery guide has shown an increase in engagement of up to 47 percent, according to Ooyala director of engineering Belsasar Lepe. That will hopefully enable its clients to better monetize their videos through advertising. Or at least keep subscribers happier. For that reason, the Discovery Guide will come as an add-on rather than a free feature for Ooyala’s clients.

In addition to the launch of its new Discovery Guide, Ooyala is hoping to help increase viewing on Android devices. It’s doing that with the introduction of its Hook video runtime. Hook enables Android users to download a single application from the Google Play store and then enjoy high-quality streaming video directly from within the Chrome web browser.

Due to the number of devices and form factors, as well as differing video capabilities throughout the Android ecosystem, providing a single viewing experience across them all wasn’t always possible, especially for media companies that required a certain DRM or copy protections. With Hook, Ooyala can serve up videos with live, adaptive bit rate, DRM and other capabilities across almost all Android phones and tablets. It also provides publishers with advertising and reporting tools.

That will allow Ooyala clients to serve up high-quality video directly in their mobile websites without having to develop expensive native applications. Android users typically watch half as much video as their iOS counterparts, but the one-time Ooyala Hook install should hopefully change that. Users can download it themselves from Google Play, or they’ll be prompted to do so when they hit a page that uses it.

There’s also that matter of getting videos from mobile devices, tablets, etc. and being able to watch them on the TV. More and more, people are browsing (discovering!) content on their phones and whatnot. But who wants to watch that on a 5-, 6-, or 7-inch screen? No one! So Ooyala is rolling out XTV Connect, a cool little feature that lets users beam content from their little screens to their big screens.

The feature uses DLNA technology to connect with a number of supported connected TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and other companion streaming devices. That will give it access to a whole bunch of screens for beaming and viewing.

Ooyala is showing off all this — and more! — ahead of the NAB Show in Las Vegas, hoping to stir up excitement from broadcasters and cable networks who wish to make more of their content available online, on mobile devices, and on connected TVs. The company has raised more than $80 million since being founded in 2007, including a big $35 million round last summer.