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Q&A with Watchup, the Award-Winning iPad App for News Videos

Watchup

Our interview with Adriano Farano, the CEO of Watchup,  which recently won a prestigious Knight Foundations News Challenge award.

 

What is Watchup?
We created Watchup to bring the power of video journalism to emerging screens. We have started with an iPad app that lets you watch your daily newscast out of the world's most trusted channels.

How does it work?
You pick your favorite areas of interest and the app automatically generates a daily newscast for you. Over time as you add or remove new channels and watch them, the app learns which are the ones you prefer and builds your newscast accordingly. You can also choose to schedule your newscast that you'll receive every day at the time you want. It's just a treat for news junkies!

How many channels do you have and how do you aggregate that content?
Our goal is to expand your horizons with high quality news channels. We curate a list of over a hundred YouTube news channels. We define news in a broad way to include U.S., world, sports, entertainment or local news. We also offer 'food for thought' with TED talks, and nice short documentaries. We also offer lots of international channels from France, India, Brazil and many other places.

I've heard it described as "Flipboard for video" and "Hulu for news junkies"–are those good analogies?
The main difference with Flipboard, and the reason why Watchup has the potential to be better, is that with 2.0, Watchup has become the one and only video-centric news reader. With the Watch and Read feature we are blurring the line between news readers and video aggregators to offer the best that both video and text can offer.

Can you describe the user interface and navigational system?
Watchup has been designed with the idea of "lasagna design" in mind. The app's interface is organized around several layers of panels, each providing a specific level of information and functionalities. If you want to lean back and work out while learning what's going on in the world, Watchup will automatically go "full screen" if you don't touch the screen for ten seconds. Do you want to actively engage with the content? We've got you covered, too! Drag the upper panel down to browse per channel and queue up videos that you choose. Or drag the right panel in to read articles that are related to the video you're watching. It's a patent-pending interface that augments your news experience dramatically.

One of your partners, Univision, also displays ads, is that right?
We are very excited to partner with the premier channel for Hispanic America, yes. By syndicating content and pushing ads to Watchup, Univision can further extend its audience to the iPad demographic.

Can users of Watchup send content to smart or connected TVs like Apple TV?
We believe that the iPad is a perfect device for enjoying content on a bigger screen. That's why we have integrated with AirPlay. Now, with our "Watch and Read" feature you can also recreate a "second screen" experience on your iPad alone as we allow you to read an article while watching a video.

How many channels can a user access at a time? How do users customize their experience?
We think that beauty is made of constrains, too. That is why, in order to not make your interface too crowded, we limit the number of channels you can watch to twenty. But subscribing and unsubscribing is very easy, so you can switch them around.

Can users share the content?
Watchup lets you share any video via Twitter, Facebook or email.

What's the best advice you've received while building Watchup?
Prototype. Fail soon and fast. Reiterate. The design thinking process I learned at Stanford as a Knight Fellow, if combined with the kind of radical intuition Steve Jobs had, is probably our Northern Star for redesigning the news experience on the iPad.

Can you tell us about the WSJ video channel?
The Wall Street Journal is an amazing case of a legacy newspaper that has been able to radically expand to video with dozens of hours of original content produced a day. We are proud to count them among our partners and friends. Full disclosure, Gordon Crovitz, a former WSJ publisher, is also an investor to Watchup.

How many countries do you get content from, how many countries do you have users in, and how many languages do you support?
Watchup is probably the most international of any news apps out there. We not only offer international channels such as Al Jazeera and Reuters but we also select the best sources from countries our users request. Brazil, India, Italy, France, Mexico… Expatriates account for a big percentage of our users because they can easily pick and choose both U.S. channels and sources from their home country to keep up with the news in a global way.

Where do you see the future of online and mobile video content headed?
The future of digital video is both in content and user experience. Watchup focuses on the latter because its goal is to elevate the news experience on every single emerging screen. But our goal is also to create an ecosystem for news organizations so that they can also thrive and look at the future with a stronger business model.