Startup Watercooler, which makes fan community applications for social networks, is now an official partner of ABC and Hulu. To score ABC content is somewhat of a coup; Watercooler joins Veoh and AOL* as the only sites with official deals with ABC, as far as we know. However, since ABC requires that its full-episode content be watched within its special Move Networks player, partners only get the privilege of linking to it (whoo-hoo.). But Mountain View, Calif.-based Watercooler will also be getting behind-the-scenes clips and feeds of show-related news from ABC that it can show directly within its applications.
From Hulu, Watercooler will be getting 480p full-screen video embeds of the shows the site carries. Regular folks like us (and previously, Watercooler too) who embed Hulu players don’t have the full-screen option; only official partner sites like AOL and TV.com do. Watercooler CEO Kevin Chou says that “small 3-inch screen experience” was a major impediment to fans watching shows from within his apps.
By contrast, he said, the ABC integration has been live for two weeks, and has already generated 70,000 video streams.
What Watercooler offers to TV networks is pre-populated and active fan communities for their TV shows. Its applications of Grey’s Anatomy and Family Guy each have nearly a million members spread over five different social network platforms: Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, and hi5. The company has 25 million registered fans for both sports and TV applications, adding new users at a rate of 2.5 million per month, and generating more than 400 million monthly page views.
I really like this approach of focusing show by show, and integrating into social networks where fans already spend their time. I think it’s something TV networks should find valuable (see: their usually terrible websites). However, the simplistic trivia and discussion boards offered by Watercooler’s apps have never held my interest for long.
What’s up next for Watercooler? Launching its communities on destination sites off of social networks, and powering community features for its content partners, said Chou.
*and Mefeedia too. The site has deals for content with both ABC and Hulu.