Magnify Wants to Turn Video Channels Into Social Networks. Good Luck.

magnify-logo.pngDoes everything need to be a social network? Apparently it does., a video-hosting and sharing platform that raised $1 million in February, is adding social networking features to its video channels.

Magnify lets Web publishers assemble videos from across the Web—YouTube, AOL, Veoh—and show it in the embeddable Magnify player. Websites use Magnify to create video channels associated with their content or the interests of their audience members. Now those viewers can create profiles within each channel and “friend” others with similar interests. They can also track and subscribe to the activity streams of other members, so they will know when their new “friends” rate, tag, share, or comment on a video. With this release, Magnify is also integrating with Twitter, Mogulus, and Flickr. Magnify splits ad revenues 50/50 with the sites. It is offering Pro and Enterprise versions as well.

Creating social networks around videos is going to be tough. For one thing, Magnify is requiring people to create a different profile for each video channel instead of letting them create one profile that works on any Magnify channel. Making people create multiple profiles is a bad idea and might make this whole effort a non-starter. It would be better to leverage its existing network of video channels across different sites.

But there is a bigger issue here. Are people who watch the same videos really part of a community? In most cases, I would argue that they are not. Think about the videos you watch on the Web. They tend to be a random assortment—something you see here on TechCrunch or that a friend put on your SuperWall on Facebook. Socializing around video is better done in existing social networks with your real friends. It is also a more natural way to discover videos.

Magnify wants to change this by letting Websites create dedicated video channels around a theme or set of interests. That’s fine. We need better video programming on the Web. And letting viewers rate, tag, and leave comments on those videos is important. But for most people that is as much interaction as they are going to want. They already belong to one or more social networks that incorporate video just fine. They don’t need to join a new one that is limited to people who watch just one channel. That would be like joining the NBC or TNT social network. Am I wrong?

Update: Magnify CEO Steve Rosenbaum responds:

I think something may have gotten lost in translation –

NBC or TNT are General Interest ‘mass’ networks who’s viewers have little in common – other than a show they may like.

Our channels already *are* communities… We have 250,000 registered users across the networks. If we had them each fill out ‘one’ profile, then we would be asking the Fly Fishermen what Cars they race, or the Race Car drivers what Tribe they’re from.

These are focused, vertical, fast growing communities. Video is the way they talk to each other, and what they talk about.

So it’s not that we’re “adding” social networking, but rather that we’re letting folks with 250,000 profiles engage and talk to each other…

Fair enough, except that those 250,000 people can’t talk to each other. They can only talk to other people in their viewing cohort. Maybe the NBC analogy was too broad. But even if I like watching funny cat videos, that doesn’t mean I want to talk to total strangers who also like to watch funny cat videos. I’d rather annoy my friends on Facebook with those videos.