After a long day at work, it can be nice to plop down on the couch and fire up the TV. But what’s supposed to be a time of relaxation can sometimes turn into frustration when trying to find something good to watch among the millions of options.
This is exactly the moment where BuddyTV wants to help. The Seattle startup today launched Vibes, a new app that helps users quickly find TV shows and movies that they’d like to watch at any given time. The app is available here for iPad and iPhone.
BuddyTV already has a top-ranked TV guide app that helps users discover content. But based on feedback, the company quickly found out that 70 percent of their customers were settling for sub-optimal content.
“People end up watching Sleepless in Seattle for the 15th time in SD, with commercials, halfway through — and they already own the DVD,” BuddyTV CEO and co-founder Andy Liu told GeekWire.
“They really like that because it’s so much faster than the grid,” Liu said.
The “grid,” is what you see used by cable operators like Comcast, which requires TV watchers to scan through pages and pages of listings to locate content.
BuddyTV thinks that Vibes is a much better solution. The app is essentially a collection of playlists — a.k.a. “Vibes” — generated by both BuddyTV’s editorial staff and users themselves. People can subscribe to all sorts of different Vibes, including: “Rich Kids Doing Stupid Things,” or, “Date Night,” or, “Underwater Terror,” or, “Distract My Child.”
The app tries to take into account your emotional state to find something that you really want to watch across the sources that you subscribe to. Vibes integrates all your content providers — from cable operators like Comcast to streaming options like Netflix and Amazon — so that you’ll know where, when and how to watch specific content within a certain Vibe.
The solution certainly departs from the traditional television interface, but also allows users to find content on streaming services they might otherwise never have found. For example, on Netflix you’re able to scroll horizontally through categorized TV shows and movies, but you eventually reach a stopping point. To find more content, you are forced to manually search.
Vibes wants to take that heavy lifting out of the TV discovery process and allow you to dive deep across your libraries.
“I don’t think there’s anything else out there where it’s geared toward providing a really, really rich set of structured data around a specific theme,” Liu said.
The new app does allow you to see TV listings in a traditional grid form, viewable in organized categories, but the real innovation is with Vibes. The app has filter features that let users block out certain content providers or price levels. For example, if you only want to see free movies on your streaming providers, you can do that with Vibes. The app also takes content from the BuddyTV website, like photos and videos, and makes them viewable through Vibes.
The eight-year-old startup spent the last year dedicating most of its resources to the new app, including a recent $1.5 million round it raised strictly for the development of Vibes. Liu said that there’s a robust product road map for his company’s new app, but for now, they’ll wait and see what’s working and what’s not with version No. 1.
“We’ve got some strong ideas around how this is going to take off in a more collaborative, shared environment,” said Liu, who’s also a veteran entrepreneur with investments in nearly 50 companies. “I suspect that this is a long-term bet for us. I’d be surprised if we pivoted off of Vibes in two years.”
Total funding for BuddyTV, which is backed by Madrona Venture Group and others, is now at nearly $11 million.
Here’s our video of Liu demonstrating the new app.