Vevo is updating its app for fourth-gen Apple TVs, fusing a swish new user interface-complete with picture-in-picture animations-with streamlined access to original content-something which Vevo's been quietly doubling down on over the past 18 months.
Having bagged exclusive album drop footage with the likes of Ariana Grande and The Weeknd along with original 60-second interviews with artists ranging from Harry Styles to De Staat's Torre Florim, the new Vevo on the block is more than just syndicated YouTube uploads.
Signing in to the new Vevo on Apple TV-which lands in the App Store this Friday-takes you to a glossy, image-heavy UI, complete with Netflix -style video icons. When building a playlist, thumbnails for videos suddenly spring to life when you hover over them, as if they're competing for your attention versus whatever else may already be playing in the background.
The idea is that the more you use the new Vevo, the better it'll get at serving up recommendations. Eventually, you'll just fire up the service and have a stack of new videos, concerts, and interviews to power through.
Yes, personalized recommendations have become a bigger deal for Vevo. "Our focus is now on bringing our audience, people who love music, closer to their favorite content," Product manager Anna Zvagelskaya told PCMag. "What we mean by that is all of your favorite music that we recommend is personalized for you.
"The content that we curate, the live shows that we produce, the original programming that takes you behind the scenes with your favorite artists, we'll serve it you so that it's instant, it's not a difficult navigation, you don't have to search hard for it, it's just there."
It is very beguiling; even during a demo via not-that-great hotel Wi-Fi, videos didn't struggle to load.
We're keen to see how this will work with Watch Party, a new feature Vevo first launched on its desktop player in March. It lets artists chat directly with fans, drop in video premieres, curate video playlists, ask questions, and chat amongst themselves. It's perhaps midway between a Reddit AMA and a YouTube playlist in spirit if not in execution.
Zvagelskaya said the idea is not to build a social network, per se (you can sign in with an email address, Facebook, or Twitter), but to build a "music network."
So far it's had artists including Tinashe and the Lumineers on host duties. Zvagelskaya said that even if artists leave a Watch Party chat, users tend to stick around and continue the conversation. We didn't get to see this in action ourselves (for some reason, Vevo wasn't able to line up a Top 10 artist for PCMag's personal benefit), but we were curious as to why this is coming to Apple TV next instead of mobile platforms.Why Apple TV?
Mobile video is, after all, the future and TV is dead. Right? Vevo's own analytics say that average eyeball time on the old Apple TV app is apparently 80 minutes. While the company couldn't give us a breakdown of figures for things like average viewing times on the mobile apps, we were told that this is a significant indicator audiences are receptive to big-screen binging.
Apple's tvOS also afforded Vevo's developers greater freedom to experiment with things like picture-in-picture feeds (which are being marketed as "peek-inside-playlists"); these might make the jump to other platforms later in the year, but probably not all of them and definitely not only Apple TVs; tough luck, third-gen die hards.
"We wanted to start with tvOS hardware because the platform allows us to be a bit more experimental than some of the others with things like picture-in-picture video previews, you wouldn't necessarily be able to do all of that across every TV platform.
"What we want to do with this is set a new standard for short-form video on the big screen. We're going to roll it out and make that experience as consistent as possible," Zvagelskaya said.
Vevo wouldn't comment on where it's headed next in terms of connected TV platforms; there are apps available for Amazon's Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One, and PS4. In the UK, there are also Vevo apps on Sky Q and Virgin Media set-top boxes.
Earlier this year, CEO and former BBC digital chief Erik Huggers, told the FT that the long-term plan is to launch paid subscriptions, so we wouldn't be surprised if consoles and family oriented pay TV suppliers are next in line for an update.
This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.