Clicker Embraces the TV with Sofa-friendly Site
Clicker's TV Guide-like directory of Web video was not easy to use on anything but a computer when it launched last November. That was too bad for Web surfing couch potatoes that browse and watch Internet video on their HDTVs. Not anymore, Clicker launched Clicker.tv this week which is a HDTV-friendly version of the site that caters to the wireless keyboard and an air mouse crowd.
To be clear, Clicker.tv doesn't host any content of its own content, it merely indexes video from around the Web. You can search for shows or view the most popular programs, and when you find what you're looking for, Clicker whisks you along to the appropriate Web site.
Unlike Clicker.com, which is loaded with links, subsections and text galore, Clicker.tv is optimized for the television screen with only a grid of shows on the right and a strip of options on the left. You're meant to navigate the site with a wireless keyboard or air mouse. All the buttons are jumbo, and text is easy to read from afar. Subtle animations bounce you from one section of the site to the next. I like it.
Unfortunately, Clicker doesn't go as far as its counterpart app for Boxee, released in December. Boxee's software uses Mozilla architecture to pull in content from the Web, so when you open a video, you don't notice that it's coming from, say, NBC.com. Clicker's Boxee app works the same way. Find a show you like through Clicker's index, and a full-screen window pops up to display the content.
Clicker.tv, on the other hand, is more like the original Web site. When you click on a video, you actually leave Clicker's site to visit the host of the content. There's not much harm done as you can always return to Clicker by hitting your browser's "back" button, but it's not as elegant as Boxee's solution, which tries to make you forget you're using a computer.
On the bright side, going directly to the video source will keep content providers happy. Hulu blocks Boxee -- and, by extension, Clicker's Boxee app -- because of the way it pulls in video from outside sources.
Ideally, Web video sites would try to make the transition as smooth as possible. You'd go from the TV-optimized version of Clicker to a TV-optimized version of ABC.com or South Park Studios, but until Web video becomes equally or more lucrative for content providers than cable, I'm not counting on it.