Two Roads for Video Apps

Video apps are one of the most popular segments of the app market and they offer real opportunities for developers and consumers alike, but developers are walking down two different roads. The first road leads to curated, semi-personalized content. Hyper, a billion dollar plus venture, leads the way here. Launched last August on IPad, Hyper aims to be a curated video discovery platform.
It’s an attempt to let users separate the wheat from the chaff in short form videos.

The idea is, most users spend a considerable amount of time searching for content and often find that, when they do settle down to watch something, they’re not watching the videos that really interest them. Hyper cuts down on the wasted hours spent watching unsatisfying videos. Geared towards more intellectual, less trendy, videos, it also ensures that you’re not just watching endless cat videos. And the best part? It’s hand curated, meaning that a team of journalists and film-makers hand select (initially 6 to 12, now 30) videos per day that span a wide range of topics.

Users are then given a “playlist” that matches their interests. On the IPad app that playlist includes 12 videos; on the newly launched IPhone app it’s been pared down to 10. The newest version of hyper not only cuts down on browsing, but provides a sleek design, higher video quality and lower data usages. One of the ways it is addressing data issues is by moving to make content available offline (though this is not currently available to all users). This feature works by pre-downloading the curated playlist overnight, saving you data costs.

It also provides ad free videos by partnering with with content providers like Conde Nast Entertainment, The New Yorker and GQ. And if all this isn’t convenience enough the app also allows you to view silent trailers of a selected video to determine if you want to watch the whole thing.

Disney’s recently announced Disney LOL app takes a similar tact but with a twist- the app will exclusively promote kid-friendly short form videos from within the Disney Universe (including, for instance, Star Wars related videos). And because the content is curated and controlled by Disney, and because it has fewer social interaction than options like Snapchat (sharing through Facebook is basically your only option), content is assured to be age-appropriate. Their forthcoming Mickey app with cover similar ground, but with slightly longer content.

Against this backdrop of controlled content that is meant to save users time and energy, we have a more freewheeling market- the live video market. Always a big feature of the internet, live video has only recently entered the mobile market: through numerous different platforms from Facebook, to Periscope, to the recently unveiled Youtube Live, users can now live stream from their mobile devices.

Periscope was one of the first innovators here and has had a significant impact. Launched in 2015, it allows any users with a supported camera (including some gopros) to Live stream videos. It has heavy interactivity, with viewers of videos commenting and even up or down-voting comments as a way of filtering out the bad apples. So far its applications have ranged from the mundane (live-streaming meals) to the serious. Last month Periscope was used to live-stream the Democratic gun control sit-in and is even being recommended by some police agencies as a tool to get citizens involved in crime prevention.

Facebook Live is similar to Periscope but has invested heavily in celebrity generated videos, in order to provide a steady stream of popular content. Indeed, Facebook has spent more than 50 million on deals with more than 140 companies and celebrities to generate content and users from Martha Stewart to Deepak Chopra and Gordon Ramsay are staples.

But it may be YouTube’s live feature that really changes the game. Youtube now allows users to live stream videos, from their mobile devices, directly to their channel and subscribers, bringing near real-time chatting. Users can take a thumbnail picture for the video, type a quick description, and then set options (do you want to enable chatting?)
Because of YouTube’s large platform and it’s already well-established tradition of “stars”, this shift to live-streaming should create a new, unfiltered kind of star, engaging in interesting locales. Some even believe it will aid freelance journalists of all stripes, by allowing them to compete with established media.

The bottom-line is: whether you’re looking for a good, structured video experience to make out of your time, or you want to be able to engage with anyone, anytime, the video app madiet is evolving to meet your needs.