Blog Post

Redux Is Bringing Leanback to Online TV

Redux has been working hard on finding new ways to get its users to watch videos online. But now the startup, which provides technology for online video discovery based on user interests or social sharing mechanisms, is looking to take that experience to the big screen.

Redux got its start building a social video recommendations engine, which enabled users to hone in on what their friends were watching and sharing online. That technology is being used by Myspace¬†(s nws) to build continuous streams of content that users and their friends were sharing on the social network. The idea was to build engagement on the site — rather than having to browse around and look for videos, users would have videos delivered to them.

But Redux CEO David McIntosh saw more that the startup could do with the technology, particularly in the connected TV space. The problem, as he sees it, is that when people turn on a TV, all they want to do is watch video. For all their faults, cable and broadcast TV make this incredibly easy. A user turns on his TV and there’s something happening on the screen. If it’s not relevant to him, he flips through the channels until he finds something of interest. Maybe, if he’s feeling adventurous, he’ll go to the program guide and look through channel listings or search for a particular show. But for most users, TV viewing is a totally passive experience.

But online video services on connected TVs today don’t work that way. If a user wants to watch a movie, he chooses the Netflix (s nflx) app and flips through movie titles in his queue or recommendations until he finds one. When the movie is over, he has to start the process all over again. Same goes for Hulu Plus or any other online video service. It’s a never-ending cycle of looking for content that you find appealing. Unfortunately, that’s not what most people want to do when they “watch TV.”

This is where Redux comes in. Not only has the startup built a system for displaying online videos in a continuous stream, but it has also developed a 10-foot UI for displaying and navigating those videos. Redux is now hoping to take that experience and get it embedded on connected TVs and other devices. Currently, the Redux implementation brings in videos from YouTube and (s GOOG) Vimeo, (s IACI) among others.

Redux has built some test channels for viewers to flip through, such as “Exploration,” “Animation,” “Comedy” and “Caught on Tape.” In addition to Redux’s channels, viewers can add and curate their own channels by adding Twitter accounts, RSS feeds and other sources. The app works by searching for and aggregating any videos that have been shared from those sources and creating a stream from them. Viewers can flip up and down through the channels or skip left and right through videos in the channels, all of which can be navigated through any standard remote control.

The startup has developed (and is testing) an HTML5 version of the player that works in the Chrome browser on Google TV (s GOOG) devices, and is looking to build apps for even more devices. McIntosh said it was too early to name names, but he hopes to have the software embedded in connected TVs and other devices from major consumer electronics manufacturers soon.

Redux isn’t the only social discovery tool to create channels of continuous playback, nor is it the only one seeking to create a leanback web experience on the TV. YouTube and Vimeo, for instance, both¬†have their own optimized sites for viewing on connected TV browsers. But Redux hopes its ease of use, combined with the ability to add and create new channels, could set it apart from other viewing options on connected TVs.