We’re big fans of Clicker, a comprehensive search engine for TV content on the web. Clicker, which made its debut at TechCrunch50 last fall, indexes over 650,000 full length TV episodes spanning 10,000 shows The startup also recently started indexing live programming on the web. Today, the startup is taking its online video guide to the next level with launch of Clicker Social, which allows people to discover, share, rate, discuss, and check-in to shows on Clicker and third party partner sites, and Clicker Mobile, which allows users to access Clicker’s service through free Android and iPhone apps.
Clicker Social aims to help people discover what’s worth watching from their social circle. People can follow their friends’ activities on Clicker, or follow users they don’t know, but who share their tastes in television and movies. Clicker users establish their own Profile page to designate their playlists, friends, recommendations, interests and recent activities on Clicker. Similar to Twitter, users can “follow” other users to see their recommendations and playlists. Clicker also allows users to import their social networks via Facebook Connect (with Twitter OAuth soon to follow) so that they don’t have to recreate their own social graph on the site.
One of the most significant features Clicker Social is the ability to “check-in” to shows that users are watching, similar to a check-in to a restaurant or bar on Foursquare. While the check-in button will be available throughout Clicker.com, its mobile site and on apps, the check-in feature will also be available on partner sites. Partners include Break Media, Brightcove, Ooyala, PBS, PopSugar, Revision3, ThisWeekIn, Next New Networks, The Onion, Vator TV and our own online video channel TechCrunchTV.
In addition to check-ins, users can comment on and rate shows and movies as well as create multiple playlists of shows, videos and movies. All of these actions are aggregated within an activity feed on the user’s Clicker profile. And as a bonus, Clicker users can now earn awards from content partners for sharing or interacting with their content. Award partners include Revision3, HBO, and PBS. Plus, the more users share and interact with content on Clicker, the more status they will gain within the Clicker community. Clicker says that these ‘experts’ will be rewarded with the ability to guide the content and discussions on Clicker.
Of course, timed with the release of Clicker Social is the launch of the startup’s iPhone and Android apps. The apps offer the same functionality as Clicker’s site, allowing users to search for programs to watch on their device, add shows to their playlist, manage their profile, check out their activity feed to see what friends are watching, check-in to shows and earn awards for things they’re watching offline, discuss shows with other Clicker users, and more.
The apps will only serve content that can be watched on the phones (for example, the iPhone app will index HTML5, Quicktime, and H.264 formatted videos). Earlier this year, Clicker launched an iPad app as well.
For Clicker, both social discovery features and mobile apps makes Clicker more than just a destination to watch video; it actually makes the site a social platform that can be accessed even on the go. And the ability to use a Clicker check-in on a third party site is only going to help engage (and remind) users of the platform. As Clicker CEO Jim Lanzone says, “Clicker Social now gives our users the tools to assist each other in the discovery process – all centered around our uniquely comprehensive, unbiased, and structured guide to online programming – while Clicker Mobile gives them the ability to connect with Clicker, and each other, from anywhere.”
The recommendations and checkins actually reminds me of features social recommendation engine GetGlue just launched. Hulu, which has a somewhat similar model to Clicker (except it only features videos from partners), has also tried to socialize its online video platform, most recently launching Facebook’s Like button. Clicker, which just raised $11 million in funding, is wise to to start experimenting with social features early (the company only launched last November), to figure out what works and what doesn’t.