Part of Tinder’s runaway success rested on the fact that swiping “yes/no” over and over is inherently fun. Scrolling through potential dates no longer felt like a chore. It felt like a game.
MightyTV wants to bring some of that same magic to finding what to watch on video services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. The iPhone app has you swipe through a list of movies or shows, and from your choices it suggests what new ones you should watch, based on your taste.
The app is immediately useful if you’re someone like me, who subscribes to more than three of these services, and finds it annoying to browse each separately. But cofounder Brian Adams, who sold his last startup Admeld to Google for $400 million, has bigger plans for the app.
“There is a point in ‘discovery’ [of new shows and movies] where it changes from work to addictive,” he tells Business Insider. That’s what he’s going after. Adams says that giving good recommendations is as much about making sure the interface is fun as it is about making sure the algorithm works well — which it seems to, at least in my subjective experience.
Here’s one example: group discovery. MightyTV has a feature called “mashup” where you can connect with a friend and the app will tell you what your tastes have in common, from shows to specific actors. That’s not work, it’s fun. And for MightyTV to succeed, it’s going to have to keep delivering those moments.
There are VCs that believe it will. MightyTV revealed Thursday that it has raised an additional $2 million in seed capital from Canaan Partners and Spark Capital, bringing its total funding to $4.25 million. The company also announced that Michael Barrett, former CEO of Millennial Media and cofounder of Admeld along with Adams, will be joining the board.
In addition, on Thursday, Mighty TV released a new feature, a weekly report called “The Mighty List.” This serves as a rundown of “can’t miss” shows and movies for the week, curated by the editorial team with help from user data.
But Adams says the focus moving forward isn’t just on features. He and his 10-person team are also working to improve the algorithm. It takes about 100-200 swipes for MightyTV to get a good sense of your taste, he says, but a new update will give the system as good a prediction at 50 swipes as it used to have at 200.
The big question for MightyTV is whether it can build up a loyal-enough user base by the time larger players put the finishing touches on their own smart recommendation systems.
Apple is reportedly building an “advanced TV guide” that aims to pull together a bunch of content providers, and Comcast is pushing toward universal integration of streaming services like Netflix with its X1 system. Both want to use artificial intelligence, voice commands, and dynamic design to become the one platform that rules all the video services. You can bet Amazon, Google, and so on, will make their play as well.
MightyTV’s advantage seems to be that it’s fun, free, and available to everyone with an iPhone (Android coming soon). And Adams says it has the potential to move beyond premium video recs, and into recommendations more broadly, which is a potential lane if it gets squeezed by the tech giants.
MightyTV currently works with Amazon, Netflix, Showtime, Hulu, Cinemax, HBO Go, HBO Now, and Crackle. You can download it here.