Because of its TV roots and obvious ties to broadcast and cable advertisers, Hulu seems to be everyone's favorite professional-grade digital video service to watch. But while Hulu captured much of the press attention, the Vevo portal of music video may actually be the online video success story of the year.
Vevo is the joint venture of Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and the Abu Dhabi Media Company that aims to be the hub and syndication engine for music video from the major labels. This year it has become a major force in online music video consumption, quickly climbing the comScore charts. In July the site served 43.9 million uniques and hosted 202 million video sessions. In raw audience, comScore now measures Vevo well ahead of Hulu.
All of this is important to mobile because Vevo released a kick-ass app on iPhone yesterday, and I wouldn't be surprised if it enjoys the same meteoric rise on this platform it saw on the Web. From the elegant fade-in of a main screen of rotating featured videos onward, this is one polished piece of work that focuses exclusively on its singular resource, music video. No celeb news. No label puffery and concert dates. There is no clutter here -- just a pure video experience.
The main video page gives us tabs for the top tracks, premieres and newest entries. The pre-fab playlists give you staff picks and specialized groups like all the music videos that Russell Brand or the cast of "Jersey Shore" recently introduced for Vevo. In a nice touch, the app tracks your location and can tell you what is popular among other users in your area. Finally, the playlist creation tool lets you tap a plus icon near any item to compile a list for later. The only glaring omission here is synchronization with a user's Web experience. Being able to triage mobile videos on your phone for watching on the PC would be a natural next step, I would think.
Vevo Mobile, as they are calling it, gives the user access to all 20,000 videos from the Web site. So finally I can sit back some evening to watch all the Lady Gaga videos that everyone in the world seems to have seen except me -- plus a fair number of extra videos, back scene sessions, alternate versions, etc. According to the Vevo blog entry, I am also supposed to get music trivia before each video. These are in the form of "Did You Know" blurbs. But the video loads so fast it challenges the speed reader to track. And of course every video has a link directly into the iTunes store for direct purchase.
And speaking of performance, the app is optimized for the iPhone 4 screen, which makes the videos look downright delectable.
The engine clearly is designed to keep you watching. Popping out of any video gives you the share and buy options as well as a rich, tabbed scroll of recommendations and comments from users.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Vevo app, and a lesson to others, is its total video-centricity. Other than a comments sections, there is no text, no news, nothing but video. A special new feature from Vevo has music stars answer questions submitted over Facebook and Twitter feeds. But here again, the questions and answers are in the form of a video. The entire experience is audio/visual -- a portal that actually crafts an interface and experience around its core content and the experience people are coming for.
And it gives me an opportunity to get back into the loop. I hear this Lady Gaga is a big deal with the young people.