Recently, a couple of SingleHop customers have gotten a bit of publicity due to the enhanced streaming video services they're providing. We were able to ask the creators of Chime.TV, Taylor McKnight and Chirag Mehta, a few questions about this new viewing phenomenon, which SingleHop is very excited to be hosting! What follows are the in-depth answers to many of the questions you may have been itching to know about this new website. Check it out below!
SingleHop (SH): What was the Chime.TV project like in the beginning?
Taylor: From the very beginning it's been fueled by our excitement to create something that we've always wanted for ourselves. Not what would have the biggest target demographic but what would we want in our dream product. There were many iterations from January until the initial launch including complete redesigns when things just weren't as clear as they should be. We strive to be as simple as possible, and while we may not be there yet, it is a goal we continually strive for.
Chirag: I canceled my cable TV back in December '06. In addition to our project aims, my personal goal was to make Chime.TV as a perfect replacement for TV. And I love watching TV so I know it's not an easy thing to replace. Initially, we had no idea how far we could go with this concept, so it was all still unchartered territories.
SH: Chime.TV has grown by leaps and bounds over the recent months. What's the secret to gaining viewers and new users?
Taylor: The thing about video is it appeals to practically everyone.
Somebody can find something good to watch somewhere. The key is helping people find and understand how easy Chime.TV makes that. Good reviews on TechCrunch, Lifehacker and others have helped us a lot.
Chirag: Also, we are starting to see some super-fans who are contributing greatly to the content and are actively bringing in new users by proudly showing off their own .TV channels on their websites. We want to keep providing these folks with the new features they request.
SH: Every day, new content is researched and added to the highlighted channels on the site. What are the essential requirements for inclusion to the top picks? How much time do you spend on a daily basis to update the content?
Taylor: Mostly we look for videos that we feel have mass appeal or are extremely interesting/entertaining to us personally. We use a combination of manual and automatically added sources to make our lives a bit more sane. For example, the OMG CUTE! channel automatically grabs videos from Cute Overload (http://cuteoverload.com ), VideoCat (http://videocat.blogspot.com), and other fuzzy websites every day. Updating content is essentially the same as enjoying content and we usually enjoy a few hours of video a day.
Chirag: Every channel has it's own audience so we may prefer to have longer, well-researched videos for our Documentaries channel while our Net100 channel is full of short, viral clips. I wish I had more time to add fresh content myself because it really is a lot of fun.
SH: Many of the regular features included on Chime.TV are not available via the normal YouTube/MySpace/Google video sites. Could you explain a few of the special interactive features included in your service?
Taylor: Our "Magic Bookmarklet" ( http://chime.tv/sidebar/bmk ) lets you view all videos linked on any site with one click from your toolbar. The same thing can be done by simply appending chime.tv to a URL, like http://chime.tv/http://metafilter.com or http://chime.tv/www.videosift.com. We also offer Video Mail, where you can send friends cool videos you find, and when they login next, they can enjoy an "inbox channel" where all the videos they've been sent from friends play non-stop.
Chirag: One of our design principles was that the "Video never stops." So regardless of what you're doing on the site, from signing up for a new account to sending video to friends, the video is always visible on the screen and plays videos continuously. One of my biggest annoyances with existing video websites is that every video is loads on a single page and once the video has played till the end, you have to find something else to click on. I guess not asking the user for interaction after every 3min clip is my favorite feature.
SH: You've had an account with SingleHop and midPhase since 2004. How has your hosting solution grown and evolved since you signed up for those services?
Chirag: I managed a lot of small work, friends, and personal sites on my original midPhase server. While the service from midPhase has been consistently stable, we realized Chime.TV would need some serious database power (that the initial server didn't have) to ensure that millions of videos can be searched through instantly. Our traffic has been growing steadily so our web serving needs have gone up. Chime.TV's using three servers right now and it won't be long before we get to five or even more.
SH: Your website has gotten quite a bit of publicity from Lifehacker, TechCrunch and numerous blogs. What precautions have you taken to make sure the site will continue to respond through these elevated traffic periods?
Chirag: I made sure to get a beast of a database server from SingleHop that can easily handle thousands of simultaneous queries. Since most of the channel and search data is cached, the database server isn't hammered continuously even during elevated traffic periods. Of course, with help from the SingleHop crew, I can get new web servers up within a couple of hours in case we are anticipating spikes in traffic.
SH: What does the future hold for the site and what type of new features can we expect to see in the next version?
Taylor: We are continuously refining our interface so regular users will notice small useful improvements on a weekly basis. In terms of new planned features, we're developing a channel browser to find new user-created channels, a more robust friend manager/invite system, and embeddable channels (for your blog etc). We have new ideas literally every day and don't plan on running out of new features anytime soon.
SH: Are there any other comments you'd like to include, regarding the new Chime.TV video streaming interface?
Chirag: I'd say keep watching our various channels and let us know (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) what we can do to make Chime.TV better!
There you have it, folks! Keep your eyes peeled to the new Chime.TV interface for new and expanded features. It's brought streaming video to a whole new level!