Fanhattan Promises Better Internet TV Through The Power Of Data (TCTV)


The TV is the last screen in most people’s homes to be conquered by the Internet. Although with so many companies both big and small going after that screen—Google, Apple, Boxee, Roku—it seems like someone will eventually figure it out. Now you can add to that list Fanhattan, a new company spun off from Vuze, the maker of the popular Bittorrent client which has been downloaded 150 million times. Despite its origins, Fanhattan is built to please media companies and Hollywood studios as much as consumers.

Fanhattan combines a consistent, easy-to-navigate user interface with a deep database of movies and TV shows to make discovering videos from the Internet even simpler than finding them on cable TV. (Watch the demo below and my interview with CEO Gilles BianRosa). Fanhattan acquired TMDb, the Open Movie Database, which powers the search and browsing features of the service. TMDb will relaunch as Fanhattan on the Web in January, followed by Mac and PC clients. The company is in discussions with various device manufacturers and cable companies to integrate its video browsing interface in their products and services.

One of the big reasons Internet TV has been a bust so far is because it doesn’t fit squarely into any of the licensing windows the entertainment industry thrives on. Fanhattan is built around these licensing windows. When you search for a movie or TV show, it will list various places on the Internet where it can be found,ranging from free advertising-supported Websites to streaming rentals and paid downloads. Then you can choose where you want to get the video from, and watch it within Fanhattan’s consistent user interface.

The problem with Internet video, argues BianRosa, is that there are almost too many choices. You have all of these apps, but they all have their own UI, and their own search engine. If you know which movie you want to watch, you have to check half a dozen different providers.”

What TMDb provides is metadata to organize videos from across the Web. And it brings you information and trailers even if the movie just came out in theaters. For instance, let’s say you want to search for TRON Legacy. A summary of the movie would appear, along with a list of the actors and director. If you click on Jeff Bridges, then you can see his entire movie career and browse to other movies he’ starred in. Some of them might be available from Amazon or Netflix, and you can watch them if you pay. Fanhattan turns video on the Interent into a giant video-on-demand system.

You can also browse by genre, ratings, era, director or any of many other variables. TMDb is a structured database so it knows how movies are related to one another through actors, directors, and so forth. Fanhattan lets you browse along those axes with ease. Studios should love that feature because it exposes old movies from their libraries to new viewers.

Fanhattan will also manage music, photos, and other personal media, but its real sweet spot is videos. It is designed as a technology platform, however, so that other companies can build apps on top of it. A music service like Spotify, for instance, could have an app which pulled a soundtrack from a movie. For every movie, you can also imagine FanGear (T-shirts, coffee mugs, accessories) which could be purchased with one affiliate click. While the app will initially be free, Fanhattan may charge for premium versions in the future.

Earlier this month, I met with BianRosa in a New York City hotel, where he showed me a demo of the product. I shot some video with my iPhone, which I’ve embedded below. The lighting isn’t that great, but it gives you an idea of what the UI will look and feel like.

In the second video, BianRosa discusses what he is trying to accomplish with Fanhattan:

More TechCrunch

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender Solo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient, and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets