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YouTube (s GOOG) isn’t alone in creating a video site optimized for the 10-foot viewing experience; Vimeo (s IACI) is also trying to capture users’ attention in their living rooms with a new user interface it calls “Couch Mode.” The new interface, which went live today, lets anyone with a Google TV or supported web browser view and navigate its videos in full-screen.
Like YouTube’s Leanback, which was announced earlier this year and is now available on Google TV, Vimeo Couch Mode takes advantage of the larger screen real estate available on Internet-connected TVs. It also delivers a steady stream of videos to the user, and offers a simplified user interface and search functionality to enable users to find the content they want to view without fumbling (too much) with the remote control.
While Couch Mode is optimized for TV viewing, users can also connect to the site through their PC’s web browsers, but only if they’re using Apple’s Safari (s AAPL) or Google’s Chrome. Because it relies heavily on HTML5, CSS and H.264 encoding, Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Internet Explorer just isn’t ready for it yet — and Mozilla and Opera refuse to support H.264.
Vimeo Couch Mode is just the latest in a series of announcements the online video site has made in the past year that help move it out of the web browser and onto more connected devices. In January, Vimeo made some of its videos available in an HTML5 video player, and later rolled out a universal player enabling users to watch videos on any device from the same URL — including iOS devices that don’t support Adobe Flash (s ADBE). It’s also creating an iPhone app for optimized viewing on the mobile device.
While mobile video has been a key focus up until now, the connected TV space is clearly the future. Getting independent web video viewed on the TV is a huge opportunity for Vimeo, which is why it also created a video app for Roku broadband set-top boxes. With availability through Google TV’s web browser, Vimeo will be able to reach even more users in their living rooms.
To learn more about Google TV and other connected devices, come see Google TV product lead Rishi Chandra at NewTeeVee Live on November 10 in San Francisco.
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