Yesterday, Chill.com was an online destination for synchronous social video consumption.
Users could visit the website, make a Duplo-looking avatar, create a virtual room in which to chill with other Duplo-looking avatars and their real-life human counterparts, and commence watching live-streamed or on-demand online video in unison, in real-time. It was a social viewing experience conceived of by Brian Norgard, Dan Gould, and their crack team of coders. It was pretty cool and at least moderately popular (celebrities like Brittney, Snoop, and other people who you would know of even if I just said his/her first name) would drop into hang out with fans and watch some moving pictures.
Unfortunately, Chill had one big problem. Making an online destination for collaborative and simultaneous video viewing can be difficult.
“Building a purely synchronous product is very hard, probably one of the hardest things to do on the consumer internet,” Nograd told me over e-mail. So, what did he and his team do when they all came to the conclusion that the marketplace wasn’t quite ready for their initial product? They turned Chill into something else.
Today, Chill.com is an online destination that makes it “dead simple” to watch and share video. “We learned a lot about what customers actually wanted from building the first product,” Norgard explained. “We would never have seen an opportunity of this magnitude had we not been listening and learning from our first batch of loyal customers.”
The opportunity Norgard mentions is in creating what he calls a “truly social network around video.” A place with the express and exclusive intent to enable individuals to easily collect videos from around the web, share those videos with their social circles in a visually appealing and easily navigable environment, and see and comment (or more likely, emoticomment) on what others within and outside their social graphs are watching.
This is not an entirely novel idea. Startups like VHX, eGuiders, and handfuls more have attempted to create online video sharing experiences and tools palatable enough for massive usership. But, as Nograd and company know, none of the websites or applications that currently exist have yet become a basic component of the average online video consumer’s process of online video consumption.
The people behind Chill.com hope their product will be the first social video site to gain that massive usership and penetrate into the mainstream. They hope their product’s features – aesthetically pleasing video bricks, easy Buzzfeed-esque commenting capabilities, the power to collect clips from a number of video sharing sites, celebrity users, and more – is what will make that happen.
“Chill is one of the first examples of a post-television product,” Norgard wrote. “There’s an entire generation that cares much more deeply about video on the Internet than what’s on TV or in the theaters. They live and breathe content being shared in their network. Expression is driven through media sharing and this is just the start, especially in video.”