SetJam launched a major redesign of its video aggregation site today and also announced a $275,000 bridge investment from the New York Angels and Hudson River Angels investment groups.
The company is competing with aggregators like Clicker and Mefeedia, and directly targeted Clicker in its release — a statement by CEO Ryan Janssen addressed Clicker’s recent raising of $11 million by saying: “Clicker has stated their strategy plainly: They are going to spend $20 million to buy a brand. Let me also speak plainly: We are going to spend a fraction of that making online TV easy. We’ll see where both companies stand two years from now.” Today’s redesign is considered a key part of that strategy, and playing around with it revealed some nice features, some understandable bugs and one or two problematic choices.
While the overall site design is simultaneously a little heavy on white space and cluttered with banner ads, the actual show interface is quick and sleek, allowing you to filter out paid or free viewing options according to your preference.
Joining the site took literally one second thanks to Facebook Connect, and you’re also able to add sites to which you might already be subscribed. By sites to which you might already be subscribed, I just mean Netflix, though a “Coming Soon” notice indicates that Epix will also be available at some point.
SetJam, like Clicker, doesn’t host or embed any content, instead directing you to the pages where content can be found. Clicking on my first selection, the pilot for the FX animated series Archer, kicked me directly to the episode on Hulu. Connecting my Netflix account to my SetJam listings took slightly longer than the Facebook setup, but when I searched for one of my all-time-favorite movies, the 1950 classic All About Eve, SetJam took me right to the Netflix Instant player for the film, enabling me to watch, well, instantly.
The pull-down menu on SetJam doesn’t currently include options beyond Hulu for where the video might be available for free, whereas Clicker will offer multiple viewing options (and designate which might be HD). I did discover some new viewing options, though — for example, I had no idea that Lifetime was hosting a limited number of old How I Met Your Mother episodes. When I clicked to watch Season 2, Episode 6 of the series on SetJam, the link took me to Episode 10 — but only because Episode 6 was no longer online.
Clicker’s listings in comparison didn’t seem as updated as SetJam’s — its How I Met Your Mother listing wasn’t nearly as up-to-date (at least when it came to the episodes currently available for free on MyLifetime.com), and didn’t list Netflix Instant as an option for watching the second season of TNT’s Leverage, whereas SetJam was right on top of that. (In that case, however, SetJam did not offer a link to the TNT website, where Leverage is also available.)
One thing SetJam does that Clicker doesn’t — acknowledge physical media. Were I to search for something that was unavailable online, SetJam’s “Get It Delivered” tag would allow me to either add a DVD version to my Netflix queue or buy it on Amazon. The former is a lot more useful to me than the latter, but having both options is helpful.
The database of content isn’t perfect — to test its more obscure listings, I searched for the show Queer As Folk, and found that SetJam didn’t make a distinction between the original British series (available on Hulu) and the American remake (available from Amazon on DVD). And not being able to compare Amazon’s DVD prices to other sites is good for Amazon, but not ideal for consumers.
But the spirit of competition is alive in this space, and SetJam in many ways ups the ante for others seeking to index the vast wealth of TV and film content available online.
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