There are loads of startups trying to become a mainstream consumer solution to the problem of what to stream amid the glut of so many SVOD, AVOD and FAST choices.
Another one launched in the app stores of Apple and Google on Wednesday called "QEWD." This one caught our eye based on its backing ... and its execution, which blends the usual information about what streaming services you use and your favorite genres, with the viewing choices and recommendations of your family, friends and hangers-on.
First off, those backers.
QEWD was founded by Zak Kadison, former VP of production for Fox Atomic and founder of Blacklight Transmedia. Former NBC Entertainment President Garth Ancier, who also ran The WB, The CW and BBC America, sits on the board of advisors, along with former Vivendi and Vice Media executive Dominique Delport and Sony Pictures chief Yair Landau.
We couldn't locate a Crunchbase profile for QEWD, but those names make for a decent "about" page on the ol' website.
A "word-of-mouth" element provides an interesting edge for QEWD
In setup, the app first finds out what major streaming platforms you subscribe to and use most often. (All of the major subscription streaming services seem to be covered here, with the app still in beta. However, in terms of ad-supported platforms, the only one we were asked about was Freevee.)
Next, we were asked about which programming genre's we prefer, and then we were asked to sort through a genre-based menu of our favorite FAST channels.
Here's where it got interesting. QEWD wants access to your contacts, so that it can see what they're watching and base recommendations off of that data. That's something we haven't seen before.
“People have unlimited choices but limited time,” said Kadison QEWD’s founder and CEO, in a statement tied to Wednesday's beta launch “And 76% of people say the best recommendations come from word-of-mouth. QEWD addresses this, making it easy to discover what your friends, family, trusted influencers and favorite brands are recommending.”
Since QEWD is new, nobody within Next TV's vast, vapidly assembled people collection uses the app yet. But we were given the option to follow Ancier, Landaou and Kadison, among other well-knowns. We jump at it.
The result was a topline menu ("Your Friends Recommendations") which included Kadison's favs. A Quiet Place surfaced, as well as the Tom Cruise-led movie version of Jack Reacher and Netflix's limited series Inventing Anna.
Next TV has seen -- and liked -- all three.
Below that, there's "What Your Friends Are Watching," a menu item that prominently surfaced Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States and the Princess Diane-themed Spencer, two documentaries we had forgotten existed ... but were happy to be reminded about as we faced down the barrel of a two-hour Wednesday afternoon appointment on the ol' elliptical bike.
Turns out that mining the viewing habits of high-profile media executives yields results. (Hopefully, all the cardio will, too.)
There are also menu items you'd find in more traditional search-and-discovery apps: For example, there is "Popular Movies on Your Platforms," which included thumbnails for The Godfather, The Batman and Resident Evil. We'd dispute none of those calls.
The app behaved a little clumsily on setup. But it was free. And it did deliver some powerfully interesting recommendations.
“We’ve never had so much great TV and film content at our fingertips, on so many platforms, to discover and enjoy,” Ancier said. “That is amazing, and frustrating. QEWD matches your program preferences to your video services, tells you what’s trending – and even what your friends recommend. It’s the ‘missing piece’ in the video jigsaw puzzle.”
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!