A meme button for your remote

MemeTV wants to bring meme-worthy TV clips to Tumblr and Reddit

Imagine you watch something funny on TV. You grab your remote control, press a button, and seconds later, that scene arrives in an app on your phone. You edit it down to the key ten seconds, add a clever caption, turn it into an animated gif — and voila: instant meme, ready to be shared on Tumblr, Reddit or Twitter.

Social TV startup MemeTV took a first step toward making every Redditor’s dream TV feature happen by releasing its MemeTV iPhone app that allows users to generate short clips from anything they’re watching on broadcast TV.

The app is capable of identifying any program that’s running on some 420 TV networks across the U.S. Once the app knows what a user is watching, it queues up the last two minutes of what just aired, ready to be edited down to a shareable ten-second clip. Alternatively, users can simply select what they watched from a programming grid and have the app fetch what’s currently being aired, or browse through clips that other users have previously generated from a show.

Users can then add a caption to a clip, and share it through the app, or post it on Tumblr, Reddit, [company]Twitter[/company], [company]Facebook[/company] or elsewhere. Clips can also be turned into animated gifs, or downloaded to a phone’s camera roll — basically anything you’d need to reuse it all over the internet — and that’s exactly what MemeTV wants users to do. “We are making it simple to create video memes,” said MemeTV founder Ian Aaron during an interview Wednesday.

Here’s a demo video of the app:

This isn’t Aaron’s first stab at social TV. MemeTV is the latest incarnation of a company that was previously known as ConnecTV, which first tried to build a companion app for broadcast TV, and then introduced a social clip-sharing app that’s pretty close to what MemeTV does. But while the previous ConnecTV app tried to become a kind of Vine for TV content, MemeTV instead squarely aims at viral content creation.

Aaron told me that MemeTV has partnerships with eight big media companies, including Hearst, Gannett, Scripps and Raycom. He also said that the company has deals with major pay TV providers, but wasn’t ready to share any names. The same goes for partnerships with consumer electronics companies, which could eventually result in MemeTV integration into TV sets to actually make that meme button on your remote control a reality. But before that, MemeTV wants to launch an Android app as well as a website to reach users across all major platforms.

As for the business side, MemeTV is planning to offer contextual advertising, as well as help broadcast networks and online services with tune-ins. Clips shared through the app come with links to full episodes of the show online, and Aaron hopes that this could turn viral memes into something that actually drives traffic for TV services.

I had a chance to play with the app a little bit Wednesday, and found that generating shareable video memes is very easy, if maybe a bit rough around the edges, especially when it comes to setting the beginning and the end of a clip. However, while I was trying to come up with some clever caption for a short clip from a cable news network, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the beauty of memes is that they’re based on simple and easily recognizable images, as opposed to full TV clips with sound. Then again, someone will surely find a way to use this for some great animated gifs, and we will all be sharing them over and over again.[company]