Startup Lets You Share Clips From Comedy Central’s Justin Bieber Roast

Startup Lets You Share Clips From Comedy Central’s Justin Bieber Roast

Does anything have more potential to go viral than a clip of comedians viciously making fun of Justin Bieber while he sits there and takes it?

That’s what the team behind Whipclip is betting on. The new app, which debuts today, is designed to let people quickly, easily and legally share clips of TV shows while they are watching live–starting with next Monday’s “Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber,” which will see the pop megastar get skewered by a roster of comics.

Whipclip is the brainchild of Richard Rosenblatt, a noted Internet entrepreneur who helped co-found Demand Media DMD -0.19% (he stepped down as chief executive in late 2013). Besides Comedy Central, Whipclip has partnered with a slew of major broadcast and cable networks, including Fox, ABC, CBS, VH1, A&E and Lifetime, as well as the music companies Universal Music Group and Sony Music. The startup has short-term deals with its partners which allow it to collect and feature TV content within the app.

Mr. Rosenblatt and his team raised $20 million in venture funding for Whipclip back in December, according to Recode.

Cool. But what about a business model? The company isn’t generating revenue just yet. For now, the TV networks are viewing Whipclip as a promotional tool, while Whipclip is trying to build out its user base. Eventually, Whipclip may explore traditional ads or branded entertainment clips that can be shared.

Here’s how Whipclip works: The company constantly records TV content broadcast by its partners. Whipclip then feeds the most recent content into the app in real time. While they are watching TV, people can open up Whipclip and sift through a menu featuring various shows and networks, backtrack to a scene or snippet they want to share, and then instantly fire off a clip to all their friends via Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.

Whipclip is trying to solve two big problems for TV networks looking to capitalize on social media buzz around their shows. People want to share clips of their favorite shows, and either don’t have the ability to do so during live shows or events, or they end up doing it illegally by posting pirated clips that end up getting taken down. With Whipclip, the TV partners have full control over which clips can and cannot be shared, and for how long the content stays available.

“That [control] was clearly an important consideration for us,” said Walter Levitt, Comedy Central’s chief marketing officer.

Plus, TV networks’ social media teams can’t always post clips from shows immediately while they air. And in this case, instead of guessing which clips from TV shows people might want to share, people will tell Comedy Central which Bieber moments are their favorites when they start sharing via the Whipclip app.

All of the partners are looking for rights-cleared video,” said Mr. Rosenblatt. “And for some of these content providers, it can take them 48 hours to make that available. Imagine doing this in real time. This will be the first time people will be able to share these moments on their phones across their social networks as fast as a TV executive can.”

For now, Whipclip just wants to get on people’s short list of habitual apps. And Mr. Bieber’s coming lambasting should be the ideal kickoff.

“We think this is going to be one of the social media events of the year,” said Mr. Levitt. Read more here

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