Are you a fan of TV? Do you like to watch TV on the Web? How about on your iPad? Do you hate not knowing where to go to catch up on all your favorite TV shows? Then I have a website for you. San Francisco-based Guidebox brings together full show and episode data from all the various websites and apps that have TV programs, ranging from aggregators like Hulu and Hulu Plus to branded network websites like CNN.com and CBS.com. As a result, it has the most definitive collection of full episodes available all in one place.
That said, Guidebox is all about TV — and just TV. It doesn’t care about movies; it doesn’t care about web video. Just TV! So if you are into TV, and want to watch TV on the web or on your phone or tablet, it’s worth a look.
Users can sort through a list of suggested shows from the front page, or they can find the shows they love through search, or by navigating through different network pages like ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. Once they click through to a show page, they can see all the most recent episodes and drill down to see previous seasons and episodes.
Since episodes usually live on various different places on the web, Guidebox showcases the best places to watch them — starting with free access through sites like Hulu. If a free version of the show isn’t available, Guidebox then suggests subscription video on demand services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. And if those don’t work, it’ll point you to places like iTunes or Amazon, where you can purchase episodes for a fee.
But the real trick for TV fans is the ability to save for later or to add a show to your favorite shows. Doing so allows users to create a queue of all their favorite TV shows, which will automatically update whenever a new episode becomes available. It’s almost like having a DVR Season Pass for streaming videos.
Not only does Guidebox work for the web, but it also works on tablets and mobile devices. Guidebox founder Jeremy Riney has created an optimized, HTML5 version of the site, which works on the iPad. The beauty of the tablet version is that it deep links into all the different apps where programs are available, so users never really have to worry about opening them all up and searching for a certain show or episode.
Even when a show isn’t available through an iPad app or the mobile web, Guidebox gives you other options for viewing: If they’re logged in, users can send the episode direct to a PC or laptop for viewing. Or they can save the episode for later, and watch it through a web browser whenever they have time.
Interestingly, Riney has no plans to make an app for the tablet experience. “I’m anti-app,” he said, pointing out that the whole reason he decided to create Guidebox in the first place was that there was no real good way to navigate all the different apps that were available for viewing shows. Creating yet another app would just cause even more steps for viewers, when instead they could just go to Guidebox in their Safari browser.
Guidebox makes most of its revenue today through affiliate links for services like Hulu Plus and Netflix, with the idea being that once you know a TV show is on one of those services, you’re going to be willing to pay to get at it. And even though that doesn’t sound like it’ll bring in lots of cash, that’s okay because Guidebox is really just one guy today — Riney — with no real plans to expand headcount anytime soon.
So what’s next for Guidebox? Mainly just adding new content sources, including maybe authenticated cable services like HBO Go or Comcast Xfinity TV Online. Until then, though, its users will have to make do with just some 10,000 TV episodes available now. Good luck getting through them.