Things are heating up in the social video recommendations space, as a number of startups seek to become the go-to place for discovering new content based on what their friends are watching. But one of the newest entrants in the space — Shelby.tv — just got some huge validation from Hulu, which is now allowing its videos to be viewed in the startup’s recommendation system.
New York City-based Shelby.tv has built an easy-to-use, “leanback” experience for discovering new videos. Once you’ve logged in through Twitter or Facebook (or both!), Shelby serves up a continuous stream of videos that have been shared by friends in a full-screen player. The idea is to ease the discovery of new videos by tapping into users’ social graph. Users can then “like” or share those videos out to their own followers on those social networks.
It’s not an original idea, and in fact, there are many startups seeking to enable the same sort of social discovery of new videos. VHX, Showyou, and Boxee all enable similar functionality, either through Web-based browser experiences or mobile apps. But Shelby.tv might have an early advantage over all its competitors, with some content that no one else has yet.
So far, most social discovery apps only include content from aggregators like YouTube (s GOOG) and Vimeo, (s IACI) which have open APIs for discovering and distributing their videos. That has kept them from being able to surface clips and full-length videos from major TV shows, which would involve working with Hulu or network site owners to make those shows available.
Even though it’s still in alpha, Shelby.tv is getting a major boost by making Hulu videos available through its recommendation system. According to founder Reece Pacheco, Shelby.tv worked directly with Hulu for several months to make the integration happen. But with that hard work comes a huge pay-off.
“It’s nice to see Daily Show clips show up in Shelby,” Pacheco said.
This isn’t the first social integration that Hulu has worked on. Earlier this summer, it integrated with Facebook to enable its users to easily share clips and moments within videos with their friends. For Hulu, leveraging social networks is one way to spread word-of-mouth for its shows and increase viewership.
Hulu isn’t the only new content that Shelby.tv has recently made available — videos from IAC’s College Humor also now will be discoverable through its social recommendation engine. And Shelby.tv has also hooked into Tumblr to surface videos that are shared on that network with its users.
Shelby.tv is still in an alpha testing, but if you’re interested in checking it out, you can go to its website and enter your email address to sign up for an invite.