Qplay, an app which organizes short online videos into longer-form personalized experiences (dubbed "Qs"), announced today that it now supports Chromecast and that it has introduced two new features, Party Qs and hashtags. Qplay was founded in August, 2012 by Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton, founders of TiVo.
With Chromecast, Qplay now gives users who want to watch Qs on their TVs the ability to do so without having to buy the $49 Qplay TV Adapter. Leveraging Chromecast's broad popularity is a smart move by Qplay to reduce the barrier to users accessing the service on their TVs. This is a key company objective as it seeks to transform online video into more of a living room type experience.
The new Party Q and hashtag features also help drive usage on TVs and more social sharing. With Party Qs, group participants can add their favorite clips to a shared Q, which are then watched by all other participants in sequence. It's easy to imagine this being a fun thing to do at a dinner party or during halftime or between innings of a game. The new hashtags feature give users a fun way to describe their personal Qs to drive more social appeal.
Stepping back, Qplay is addressing a one of free ad-supported online video's critical challenges: how to increase time spent viewing per session and therefore monetization. Aside from longer-form paid services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, most free online video viewing still revolves around watching a clip or two. Qplay is trying to change this by consolidating video viewing within its app and using Qs, which are kind of like social video playlists. The idea is to fire up Qplay on the TV and then have Qs with related, personalized videos auto-play, in a lean-back experience.
Qplay has recently expanded its content sources to include NY Times, Funny or Die, Reddit, Digg, NHL, Comedy Central and Yahoo, adding to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Vimeo. It's a great start but there are many more to go. Still, Qplay is on an interesting track and the Chromecast support in particular will help build momentum.