Is the future of mobile video all about apps? These two apps don’t think so

Mobile video is growing quickly, and with that also comes an explosion of apps from publishers who want their slice of the pie. But do consumers really want to switch back and forth between dozens of apps to watch their favorite videos?

Two Bay Area-based startups, Showyou (see diclosure) and Vidora, believe there is another way. Both have slightly different approaches to the problem, but at the core of both approaches is a solution as old as television itself: Publishers should just rely on channels and aggregation instead of insular apps

Showyou’s new channel platform

showyou channelsShowyou’s video discovery app has been around for some time, but the company is now offering publishers the ability to launch and program their own channels within the Showyou app. “Making an app is really hard and expensive,” Showyou CEO Mark Hall told me Wednesday. “(It’s) harder still to get distribution, and even harder to get people to use it regularly,” he added.

Showyou now wants to take care of all of that: Distribute a publisher’s content through their app, give them tools to place advertising against their content, and promote these channels within the Showyou app. Publishers can keep 100 percent of their ad revenue, but the startup will be charging an admin fee that’s based on usage and can range from $5 to $400 a month starting in September.

Vidora’s publisher-centric discovery app

VidoraShowyou is getting some competition from newcomer Vidora, a startup that was founded by a handful of ex-Ooyala engineers last year and that unveiled its own video discovery app Thursday. Vidora bills itself as a tool for users to find the best content from publishers like Netflix (s NFLX), Hulu, Amazon (s amzn) Instant video, Fandor and others, which the company’s app is serving up through a variety of categories. It’s part Showyou, part Fanhattan, if you will.

What differentiates Vidora from its competitors is the close integration of publishers, Vidora co-founder Alex Holub told me during an interview Wednesday. This includes authentication for offerings like FlixFling, as well as analytics and monetization options through integrated advertising. “We want to help them with their brands, we want to help them monetize,” Holub said.

Hulob also hinted at a few things planned for future releases that could make Vidora pretty interesting for publishers: The app, which currently supports AirPlay to play content on Apple TV devices, wants to jump on the Miracast bandwagon as well once it comes to Android and essentially replace dedicated video streaming devices like Roku with an app on your tablet or mobile phone. And Vidora also wants to offer publishers what Hulob called a “standard metadata language for content” to easily allow them to create second-screen experiences for their videos.

But where are the eyeballs?

Of course, all of this only makes sense if app makers like Vidora and Showyou can also promise publishers an audience for their videos. Vidora still has to prove itself in that area, and Showyou, while already established, also doesn’t talk about the size of its user base.

But Hall also told me that the sheer number of users on any platform isn’t really all that indicative for anything, especially if you go with a channel model like Showyou. “There are 200 million folks on Twitter” he said. “But signing up doesn’t mean you’ll get one million, or two million or 10 million followers. You have to work it,” he added.

(Disclosure: Showyou maker Remixation is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.)