Chime.tv Brings TV Skin to Browser

Last week, Chime.tv won best mashup at the fourth Mashup Camp, held in Mountain View. The Flash-based site is a web video destination featuring human-programmed channels and social features, bringing together content from multiple video sites. This marks the second project of Taylor McKnight‘s to win at Mashup Camp — previous effort Podbop allowed users to log in and listen to previews of bands appearing in their area.
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While Chime.tv is not perfect, the user interface is well thought-out and easy to use. Channels like Techlife TV add a layer of “findability” that’s lacking from simple video search; switching between regular and full-screen view is seamless; it’s easy to create your own channel; and (my favorite), by entering a web site URL, you can turn almost any blog that features video into a channel as well — including NewTeeVee.

I chatted with McKnight, who’s based in St. Petersburg, Florida, about the project that he and Chirag Mehta developed together. He said the team’s goals right now are primarily to continue adding features and gain exposure — costs are minimal, so there’s not much pressure to find a revenue stream.
McKnight also said that while the team is focused on the ‘premium’ channels featured right now, it is also working on a content suggestion algorithm, with an interesting approach to approving current rating systems. “Chirag and I are big fans of passive voting mechanisms,” he explained. “It might be difficult for you to decide if something is actually 3 stars or 4 stars, but if you watched a 45-minute video all the way through (or even twice) that implicitly says something.”
Within three to six months these features and more should be live, McKnight promised. The priorities include support for more video-sharing sites, more introduction and tutorial videos, and then the public channel browser. The major drawback Chime.tv faces when compared to client-side applications is quality — the video is only as good as the Flash-encoded content made available by other sites, and it can’t take advantage of more advanced backend distribution technology like P2P.
But unlike Joost and Veoh TV, Flash-based video sites do not require a client application and work easily across platforms. And Chime.tv’s jump to the living room set is as easy as buying a Nintendo Wii and using the Wiimote and the Opera browser to surf videos from your couch. Check out the Wii support built right into the site.