Twivel is shutting down
It's been a incredible journey but I've decided to wind down Twivel. I'll be sharing more soon.
The Twivel Manifesto

The Twivel Manifesto

Neil Cameron,  

There's nothing interesting to watch on TV, Twivel is here to help you fix that.

Twivel’s mission is to provide a brilliant set of tools to empower the next generation of video creators. We believe there is new, captivating video content out there that deserves to break out of the laptop and on to the television.

The idea for Twivel came about through the intersection of an itch and a new technology. The itch: a boredom of maintsteam television. The technology: Apple’s tvOS.

There’s nothing to watch

I’m an economics geek. I consider watching an LSE lecture by Robert Shiller on market bubbles to be entertainment. I’m also really into judo and would rather watch a 1964 black and white judo documentary than most documentaries on iPlayer. During New Years Eve we had on (in the background) a Boiler Room Frankie Knuckles mix. My wife is an artist, she would rather watch a Tate interview with Grayson Perry than any of the arts content that the BBC or Netflix provides.

I don’t want to watch mainstream content, I want to watch stuff that I really care about.

In short, I often don’t want to watch mainstream content, I want to watch stuff that I really care about. Not only that, but I want to watch it on my sofa, on my beautiful 43” TV screen, without fiddling around to connect my laptop to the TV. Right now that is not easily possible.

Enter Apple and tvOS

In November 2015 Apple launched the 4th gen Apple TV running tvOS, an operating system built specifically for TVs. Mentioned in passing was something called TVML, a new way to build apps for TV that relied on content feeds rather than coding.

Having built several content management backends with content feeds for apps, I immediately understood what Apple was doing and thought “Huh, how hard could it be to build a platform to manage content for the Apple TV”. Twivel was born.

Some time later, when thinking about the commercial prospects of Apple TV apps, I started to piece together how this might impact content distribution and viewing habits and perhaps even provide a scratch for my itch.

Towards a unified theory of video content distribution

TV apps are not new, BBC iPlayer has been available as a Smart TV app since 2010. What is new is the rapidly reducing cost of building an app. Back in 2010 the cost of building an app was such that it was only commerically viable for the big players (BBC, Netflix etc) to do it. The launch of tvOS and TVML reduces that cost, we’ve already seen brands such as Dior and Burberry launch their apps on Apple TV.

Twivel will drop that cost by another order of magnitude, to the point where a whole new wave of video creators will be able distribute their content alongside the established players.

Twivel will drop that cost by another order of magnitude, to the point where a whole new wave of video creators will be able distribute their content alongside the established players. In the near future we will see an explosion of captivating, professionally produced content from non traditional sources such as newspapers and magazines (e.g. Monocle, Economist), brands (e.g. Red Bull, Burberry) and “podcasters” (e.g. TWiT, TWiST).

An Animated gif of how a reduction in the cost of distribution will change the content being distributed

In Summary

  • Niche, long tail content is poorly catered for on TV.
  • The “appification” of TV offers a solution to this but in the past the cost of building a TV app has been prohibitively high.
  • Apple’s tvOS / TVML platform lowers the cost of distribution to TV to bring it within reach of big budget brands.
  • Twivel will lower this by a further order magnitude, enabling a new wave of video creators to reach the living room.
  • As software eats TV and all channels become apps, Twivel will grow into a platform that enables organisations to grow, analyse and monetise their video distribution across TV, mobile and web.

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