By Sahil Patel
Social video service Waywire, which was acquired by the video curation experts at Magnify Networks in October, has some interesting plans for the role it will play in the future of online video. In an industry that is consistently plagued by the “video discovery problem,” Waywire has been quietly building up a digital MSO structure, one that would allow users to find and watch content on specific channel brands based on different genres and topics.
When we spoke to Magnify CEO Steve Rosenbaum at the time of the acquisition, he had provided some hints in terms of the direction that Waywire would go. Back then, Rosenbaum told Videoink that publishers are interested in a digital “program guide.” Waywire’s plan was to provide that utility but by also embracing what makes the web different, which is to allow creators of all types to produce and program content for their audiences.
If you look at the Waywire platform right now, that’s exactly what the company is doing.
For instance, Waywire breaks down the immense library of content it offers by several main categories on the home page, including Trending Wires, News & Politics, Tech, and Entertainment.
The Buzz Entertainment section [left] provides the best example of where Waywire seems to be going. Waywire has rolled out 15 video channels in the section to date, customized around niche entertainment topics like specific TV shows, musicians, and celebrities. Curated by Javier Soto, this is the section viewers would ostensibly visit to find content from/about shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “WWE Raw,” and “Game of Thrones,” artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, and celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres.
If you click on one of the TV show channels, say the one for “WWE Raw,” it pulls up all sorts of content — from TV clips to content created by, about, or featuring WWE personalities.
There are also sections devoted to non-video content such as tweets and Instagram photos.
Altogether, this creates a curated a hub for “WWE Raw” content — a single place where fans can routinely drop by to check out new content they’re sure to like.
This is not unlike what you see on TV. There aren’t many TV channels right now that provide a broad variety of content. TV programmers know who their audiences are, and produce and package content based on what they’re likely to watch. That’s what you’re getting from Waywire here. Except, because this is the web, Waywire and its curators are able to drill down to highly-targeted audiences and interests, as well as offer content beyond just video.
Having spoken to Rosenbaum before, who declined to be interviewed for this piece, it’s clear that Waywire wants to be an engine that drives video discovery and consumption.
Other video discovery platforms have attempted to cut through the incredible noise that users have to deal with when searching for videos online. But by pulling all forms of interesting and relevant content into branded, topical channels, which are then further curated by human beings, Waywire appears to be banking on the idea that the best way to solve video discovery is to take a structure that’s common on television, and adapt it to the web.