Today, Watercooler, the cross social networks community of passionate TV fans, is launching its own destination portal: TVloop.com. Watercooler gained traction as a social app integrated in a variety of social networks (Bebo, Facebook, Hi5…), the network counts 15 million registered subscribers, and it offers online communities for about 200 TV shows.
Two things should make TVloop really interesting:
1. An expanded partnership with Hulu which enables Watercooler to deliver more than 40 top network shows to fans on Hulu’s video player.
2. Through a recent partnership with SeenON!, a division of Delivery Agent, TVLoop consumers can access SeenON! product information and shop for items from apparel to house wares to show-branded merchandise from their favorite TV shows.
The need for a stand-alone website emerged from the fact that TV communities are divided by shows, and there isn’t really a place out there where all those communities live under one roof. TVloop.com plans to build this roof. Plus I am sure it doesn’t hurt to NOT share all your data with the social networks you’re built on.
If they play their cards well, TVloop could become a major destination for watching TV shows online. Quite frankly, the only other reliable and legal resource online for watching TV shows is Hulu (at least that I know of). Youtube never really managed to seriously clean up its act to become a trustworthy distribution platform to the eyes of the big media houses. Therefore, it feels like TVloop has all the attributes to become a successful video destination: social, massive network, business model, strategic partnership, left-behind competition.
While everything sounds right about TVloop on paper, the site’s usability is another crucial dimension to look at. The experience is pretty pleasant. Upon signing up (for new users), you select your favorite shows, and they all appear as tabs in your profile. Each page contains the video selection, trivia quizz, quotes, ongoing forum discussions…
In other words, it’s what the app is, except it’s all on one site. I am a bit disappointed by the fact that Hulu limits the number of videos per shows on TVloop the same way it does on Hulu.com. Also, I can’t find any link that points to shopping for goods. If it’s there, its placement hasn’t been optimized yet.
The cool feature I discovered is the fan chain. Check it out, it’s one of the best examples I’ve seen so far to turn users into spreaders.
Also, this afternoon, I am heading to Mountain View to meet Kevin Chou, CEO of Watercooler, for a short video interview. If you would like to stay tuned for this interview, subscribe here.