Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clicker - The Internet TV Guide to What’s On Online

I caught up with Jim Lanzone, founder and CEO of Clicker, the "TV Guide for the web", at Streaming Media East 2010, to talk about how Clicker got started cataloging what's on online, how the website works, what actually is Clicker's revenue model and, what are his general thoughts on the online video and Internet television space. Lanzone was previously CEO of, where he and most of his team came from and he founded Clicker in January 2009. The Los Angeles-based was in stealth mode until it's official launched at NewTeeVee Live in November 2009, as the programming guide for this new era of television. Clicker catalogs all broadcast programming online, along with TV-quality Web originals and contains more than 650,000 episodes, from over 10,000 shows, from over 2,000 networks, 30,000 movies, and 80,000 music videos from 20,000 artists.

In an introductory post on the Clicker blog, Lanzone described Clicker as:
"a hybrid of many other kinds of information and entertainment sites: one part directory, one part search engine, one part Wiki, one part entertainment guide, and one part DVR. At the heart of it all is a massive structured database, created by a team of people from search, media, data and content management backgrounds."

Lanzone said that when Clicker began cataloging Internet television, no data existed. So they had to create it by plugging in their technology into every website with premium video, and then pull down and normalize all the data structures (title, description, air date, duration, actors, etc.) and automate it thereafter. Clicker's database is then able to track the videos as they disappear online or when free content moves behind paywalls.

Clicker does not do an unstructured crawl of the web or search through voice recognition, as Lanzone explained:
"It's metadata driven. Where it doesn't exist, we'll create it. So we'll actually construct a feed for a website that puts in our data structure, and that's something we actually give to websites for free just so that we're able to get it and they're able to construct a feed for it. Other sites have feeds already constructed. But we want to keep things organized.
We think to do TV Guide of the web the right way is, it's got to be comprehensive, it's got to cover everything that you'd want to watch on your 10-foot experience big screen TV, it's got to structured and organized in a way your can easily navigate and not just search for, and it has to be unbiased."
Lanzone clarified that unbiased means, that Clicker is not competing with the sites they are sending traffic to, Clicker doesn't host the videos, but they are sending you directly to the destination sites, like, to watch the video. Lanzone said Clicker’s revenue model is based on lead generation rather than advertising and that they get paid through the unbiased referrals to paid partner sites.
"We're TV Guide, not TV. We just want to send you to the site to watch it. So we don't have the videos, so we don't have video ads and videos that we don't have."
Clicker recently announced that it now catalogs all live broadcast programming, and has also built "People Pages" that catalogs available videos of more than 75,000 actors, writers, producers and directors. So if you're a Zach GalifianakisTina Fey, or Felicia Day fan, you'll find it easier to see every program they've been in (that’s available to watch online), from starring roles to cameos, as well as related people. Also, at the recent Google I/O conference, Clicker launched, a HTML5 interface of the website optimized for the "50-inch/10-foot viewing experience".

Lanzone commented on the current state of online video and Internet TV, with an analogy that we're in the brack (or brackish) water period between the old world of cable and the coming world of online television. He noted that there are a lot of in between solutions right now, with many different OTT solutions, boxes along with TV manufacturers, cable companies, online portals all fighting to control your experience and that the future will become more dispersed and more fragmented in terms of content providers, while destination sites, like the iPad app will grow stronger as they consolidate the viewing experience and disintermediate (cut out the middleman) the market.

In a recent study, Clicker revealed that what's online doesn't always stay online, and the free broadcast content is only available online for a limited time. With their structured database they were able to track ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW videos from the 2009-10 broadcast TV season, and found 90% of TV shows became available online, 50% of episodes came online within a day of their original air date, and 60% of episodes went offline within three weeks of their original air date. 

Clicker has raised $21 million in funding since September 2009, from venture capitalists including Benchmark and Redpoint, and in a short time has branded itself as the complete programming guide for Internet television. As the market matures over the next few years, Clicker plans to be a key player in the space.

Update 7/23/2010: Clicker Launches New Social and Mobile Apps
Today, Clicker announced the launch two new brand new social and mobile apps in the form of Clicker Social, which allows you to discover, share, rate, discuss, and check-in to shows on Clicker, Facebook and Twitter and other third party partner sites. A new Clicker Check-in button can be embedded on websites and video players to help spread the word on what (and where) people are watching online. Leading online video platform providers Brightcove, Ooyala and thePlatform along with many technology sites and content partners, including PBS, Koldcast TV, Revision3, The Onion, TechCrunchTV, VatorTV, are integrating the Clicker Check-in button into their video players,  extending the feature to thousands of publishers. Clicker Mobile introduces a brand new mobile experience on the Android and iPhone (coming soon) for users to connect with Clicker anywhere.

In today's press release Jim Lanzone said:
"Since day one our mission has been to help people discover what's available to watch, where to watch it, and what's worth watching in the new world of Internet television. Clicker Social now gives our users the tools to assist each other in the discovery process -- all centered around our uniquely comprehensive, unbiased, and structured guide to online programming -- while Clicker Mobile gives them the ability to connect with Clicker, and each other, from anywhere."
See the related blog posts:
Hello! It’s Clicker, We’re on Your Phone – Clicker Blog
How to Get Started with Clicker Social – Clicker Blog
See the press release here: Connects Internet TV Viewers Online and On-the-Go With New Social Features and Mobile Apps - Yahoo! Finance

About Clicker
Clicker is the ultimate guide to Internet television. As massive amounts of programming move online, consumers are entering a world of infinite choices, all on-demand. Great! Finding the show you want to watch? Painful. Thousands of episodes from thousands of shows are housed on thousands of different sites, mixed amongst billions of random videos. Clicker culls all broadcast programming, and TV-quality Web originals, from these silos and delivers them in one seamless, organized experience so you can easily find, save, share and even contribute content for any show or episode online.
Clicker | Facebook
Clicker (clicker) on Twitter
Clicker's them song:

About Jim Lanzone
Jim has spent the past 13 years in the Internet industry, starting as co-founder of a startup called eTour and most recently serving as CEO of search engine In between he had adventures with such colorful characters as Mahir "I Kiss You" Cagri and a butler named Jeeves. After leaving Ask in 2008, Jim took a position as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Redpoint Ventures, the investors behind companies like MySpace, Tivo and Netflix, and got the bug to start a company again. He called a few of his former Ask compadres, added some new ones, and got to work building Clicker. Jim grew up in San Carlos, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. He likes to brag that he went to the same high school as Barry Bonds and Tom Brady, and by all accounts it appears to be true. Jim holds a BA from UCLA and a JD/MBA from Emory University.
Jim Lanzone (jlanzone) on Twitter

Additional interviews with Jim Lanzone on
Also, Jim Lanzone spoke on the Streaming Media East panel, Video Search: Finding Content in a Thousand-Channel Universe, moderated by Andy Plesser. You can watch that video here or in my post, Beet.TV Gets to The Root of the Media Revolution.