French startup TVShow Time just added a major new feature for its social platform for TV show enthusiasts. Not only can you keep track of your progress in your favorite TV shows, you can now play new episodes directly from the website as well, without having to leave the site. All of this was made possible thanks to a deep Put.io integration.
“When you reach the last 10 percent of your episode, it automatically prepares the next one in the background,” co-founder and CEO Antonio Pinto told me in an interview. The integration with Put.io is as seamless as possible.
You get the same episode page as before, but there is now a “Play” button right at the center of the screen. When you hit that button, it instantly plays the episode in your browser. You can select a subtitle track, switch to full screen.
But to do that, first you have to sign up for Put.io. This service makes the magic happen behind the scenes — and it’s not all legal. The Istanbul-based team built a service to fetch BitTorrent files using Put.io’s server, with accounts starting at $9.99 a month.
In other words, TVShow Time doesn’t handle this part of the process. On the website, all you have to do is link your Put.io account and provide an RSS feed. After that, the service will scan your “to watch” list and automatically add episodes to your Put.io account. You can then stream them directly on TVShow Time. It’s a neat integration, and it will certainly attract many new users.
The question is whether the startup will be able to maintain this all-you-can-eat service for long. Pinto is aware of the implications. “It’s a great way to boost our growth,” he said. But he doesn’t count on this feature in the long run.
The team will also work on additional third-party integrations with other services, such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes Store, StreamNation. More importantly, the website itself is a great platform for TV lovers, and that’s why users keep using TVShow Time.
The startup already has hundreds of thousands of active users with great engagement rates. One of the most interesting features is the calendar. With one look, you can see when the next episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones will air. Similarly, you get push notifications on your mobile phone after installing the app.
You can comment and interact with other community members, vote for your favorite character, become an expert at Downton Abbey, see the best rated episodes and more. Overall, it’s a great community-powered database for TV shows.
It’s well-designed as well. The on-boarding experience is compelling. When you sign up, you can import all your liked TV shows from Facebook, and say if you’re caught up or not. Algolia handles the search engine. And the artwork looks good.
Part of TheFamily, the startup has raised $500,000 so far. The streaming service in itself is the most obvious advantage compared to competitors, such as Trakt.tv. “We don’t do anything ourselves so we don’t have anything to lose,” Pinto said. “If something goes wrong, we can stop the streaming service any day.” For now, it still works.