Techstars NY graduate Shelby.tv has been pretty quiet since raising $1.5 million in July. But today the young start-up, which aims to provide an immersive experience for watching, sharing and discovering web video, announced that content from the typically isolated Hulu will be available on Shelby.tv. Videos from IAC’s College Humor also came online today, along with Tumblr integration.
Shelby is working in a crowded space. It has direct competitors like VHX, which is building essentially the same experience. Functionality for social video sharing is also built into Boxee, which has the advantage of a hardware component that makes it a snap to stream videos to your big screen. And of course giants like YouTube are experimenting with leanback views and social sharing.
CEO Reece Pacheco became friendly with Fred Wilson after commenting on the latter’s blog over the course of a few years. Mr. Wilson has been a vocal supporter of Shelby, certainly a strong advocate. Scoring the right to Hulu and College Humor shows, Shelby has the chops to negotiate with the big corporate parents who control these smaller, more open web platforms. Boxee has yet to achieve a deal with Hulu.
As The Next Web’s Courtney Boyd Meyers reports, Shelby plans to monetize by offering branded channels instead of traditional ads. “By filtering, Shelby’s branded content will be smart; meaning, Reece will receive Old Spice ads and Shark Week promos, while I’ll be watching branded content from vegetarian cooking shows and Thai tourism boards.”
But the future of Hulu is very much in flux. Fox has already put its content on an eight-day delay, and many expect ABC and CBS to follow suit in the near future. The old guard media is planning to squeeze every last penny out of their content while they still retain some modicum of control, which means the rights to premium digital music and video will only be getting more expensive in the next few years. For innovative start-ups like Shelby, this is the great challenge, and opportunity.