“The web is becoming a live medium — sales and auctions happen in time, product launches, chats with celebrities, live video events and audio, games, events in virtual worlds — there are a huge amount of scheduled things taking place,” says Nova Spivack, who recently sold off his semantic web search engine Twine to Evri. Now he’s setting out to create a massive programming guide to those live online events, called Live Matrix.
Spivack last year brought on Sanjay Reddy, who’d done corporate development at Gemstar-TV Guide and led its sale to Macrovision (s ROVI) for $2.8 billion. Reddy knew from experience that TV watchers spend 10 percent of their time watching TV on the interactive programming guide (per set-top box data). The web has much more going on at any one time, but nothing like an IPG.
Does that metaphor carry over? That’s what Spivack, who’s serving as Live Matrix chairman, and Reddy, the CEO, want to find out. They plan to launch in May and gave me a look at the pre-release site under the condition that I not release screenshots. I’ll tell you a bit more about what they’re doing and describe in words what it looks like.
First of all, there’s the prototypical grid interface — though instead of listing channels due to preset numbers like on TV, they’re dynamically ordered based on demand. Log in during March Madness? That’s going to be on top. If a web metaphor is more your style, you can look at all the events in a Digg-like interface. Users can pull events into a personal playlist and receive reminders when they start. If you actually want to watch something, Live Matrix sends you to the host site rather than framing the content.
These ideas do need a bit more nuance — for instance, personalized ranking rather than global popularity will often be more helpful, and on days like the Obama inauguration there are going to be tens of duplicate or near-identical feeds running on various channels. Spivack and Reddy do say they’ll provide recommendations as well as social filtering based on what your friends are planning to watch. They’re also planning to provide widgets for syndication around the web.
I totally see the need for what they’re doing — in my time at NewTeeVee, we developed the “where to watch” franchise of posts after seeing the amount of people coming to our site trying to find the actual URLs for live video streams of major sporting and pop culture events.
The main way Live Matrix expects to list events is by partnering with content providers, plugging into publisher APIs and using a small editorial team. Then, it will sell advertising on programming based on demand expressed by its users. It will also maintain a page for every event after it’s over, pointing to archived video (which is excellent; so often people who do live completely forget about on-demand). And Spivack notes that pre-recorded videos released at a certain time will be considered “live” as well.
Live Matrix has a good problem but, like its on-demand cousin company Clicker, the web TV guide, it will need to aggressively build an audience for its site and through distribution partners, including hardware companies. The key is to make an interface that’s a significantly better option than searching for such events.
The company, dually based in San Francisco and Los Angeles with offshore development, has raised money from angel investors including Allen Morgan at Mayfield Fund.