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Summary:

Chill.com has all but abandoned its Turntable.fm-like group chat rooms and is now focusing squarely on social video discovery. The startup’s founder Brian Norgard likened the new approach to the way people interact with content in media-focused social networks like Instagram and Path.

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Don’t call them a Turntable.fm clone anymore: Los Angeles-based video startup Chill.com relaunched today with a completely revamped website that focuses on social video aggregation and discovery instead of group video viewing. The new site, which went up around noon Wednesday, aggregates videos posted by Chill.com members as well as your Facebook and Twitter contacts and allows users to easily comment and chat about a video.

Chill founder Brian Norgard likened it to the way people interact with content on media-focused social networking sites like Path and Instagram, telling me during a phone call Wednesday: “There isn’t a great networking approach to video.”

The new Chill.com.

Chill has been going through several product iterations since its launch last August: The site started off as a Turntable.fm-like platform that allowed users to curate video playlists in real time, went on to focus on live streaming and eventually brought in content from Hulu.com to allow users to watch their favorite TV shows together in a group setting. Norgard admitted Wednesday that his team may have underestimated the challenges with this model: “To do that kind of scheduled programming around archived content – it’s just hard,” he told me, adding that synchronous interaction around video content may still be a few years away.

The new Chill.com takes some of the social aspects of its old model, but without the need to be watching the same content at the same time. Users are for example being notified if one of their friends watches a video they posted or reshared and have the option to chat with them about the clip – something Norgard called “hyper-addictive.”

Norgard told me that his team hasn’t made a decision yet on the future of its chat rooms, but admitted that the new site was “a major shift in focus.” Chill wants to now see how users react to the new service, and may work on mobile or connected TV apps to bring it to other platforms later.

Of course, Chill isn’t alone in the aggregation space. Apps like Fanhattan and Squrl have been trying to establish themselves as leaders in the social curation and discovery space, and YouTube has been moving towards a more social approach as well with its most recent relaunch that includes a Facebook-like news feed.

  1. I know the team behind Chill and have participated in some of their earlier community-based sites. Knowing their dedication to interactivity and user experience I am excited about this new offering.

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