There’s enough video on the Web to keep you distracted for at least a lifetime or two. So how do you figure out what to watch?
So far, we’ve been relying on friends’ personal recommendations, sites like Digg, and the YouTube leaderboard to point us to the funniest and more interesting Web video.
iLike cofounder Patrick Koppula has devised what could be a better solution: Ffwd, which launches today, is a new video aggregation site that tries to help you find Web video it thinks you’ll enjoy, from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Comedy Central, the New York Times, etc.
How does it work? Ffwd categorizes and groups videos by topic — football, Jeopardy, sex, Lost, Diggnation, etc. — and personality — the class clown, the rebel, the super fan — and creates a personal “channel” for you, based on the stuff you tell it you’re interested in. As you watch movies and rate them — via a heart, four stars, and a fast-forward button — it refines your “channel.” It’ll also take cues from your YouTube favourites or other services.
Will it catch on? We like the concept of a service suggesting video to us — as Last.fm and Pandora have proven for music, there’s a market for a good recommendation engine. And Koppula has some interesting potential business models, such as turning Ffwd into a service that goes on set-top boxes via software like Boxee, or offering premium video via subscriptions.
But we wonder if this isn’t a feature that Google’s (GOOG) YouTube — by far the dominant Web video site, with the biggest library — could just as easily offer themselves.
What about all those other sites? The idea of mixing and matching video from many sources makes some sense — other sites like VTap have been doing it for a while. But most video sites aren’t alike, and there’s a big difference between content available on YouTube and Hulu: We know to go to YouTube when looking for short, goofy video clips, and to Hulu for full TV episodes and the occasional movie. Each has a different use case, and mixing and matching 40-second wacky clips and 40-minute TV shows doesn’t seem like something we’d want to do.
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