“There’s an app for that” might be the truest phrase of our generation. Whether you’re into games about zit-popping, homophobia or seeing the effects of alcohol + time on yourself, you can find it in your iTunes or Google Play store (well, thankfully not so much the homophobia one anymore). And now, you can also get Clippit.
What is Clippit, you ask? Well, NMR is glad you did, because we are going to tell you — whether you want to know or not. And considering that you’re still reading, it means we’ve got your attention. Clippit is the ultimate app for eliminating the middle man when you want to direct-load something from TV. Gone are the Dark Ages of rewinding your DVR to awkwardly Vine-record your television. We are now in the Clippit Era — where if you want to show your friends and social media audience something amazing, you just hit the “TV” button in the Clippit app, select from the list of available channels and then edit the desired clip (up to 30 seconds) for publishing. Easy, right? Well guess what? It also gives you the higher video quality you’ve come to expect from this modern era.
This valuable and emerging app comes courtesy of Jim Long’s company Didja, which raised $10 million in seed funding to make Clippit the reality in replay technology. Since we love to give emerging brilliant people a soapbox, we thought the smartest thing we could do (aside from downloading Clippit ourselves) was to interview Jim and see if we couldn’t shine a little light on one of the handiest apps ever (much better than that zit-popping game!).
What’s the story behind Clippit? How did you realize the world needed this?
JIM: Well, first of all, it wasn’t me who figured that out — I joined the bandwagon. It’s the classic “Look at what users are doing and help them out.” Essentially users have already started clipping on their own — they’re watching TV, they see something cool; I always use the expression, “I see my old girlfriend on the Kiss Cam.” You go to your DVR, you rewind, right? Play it again, get out your iPhone, take a video clip, then get out your Facebook app or Twitter or YouTube and you upload it. “Hey, folks: Look at this!” So that’s been going on and it’s getting more and more happening and the technology is getting easier to do it. Essentially, we’re doing it in a way that’s making it easier for media companies. We think that by fans harnessing other fans, it will produce a lot more positives for the TV industry, and, in turn, turn into a nice little business.
Now one of the only complaints so far is that there is a limited number of channels Clippit works with …
That’s correct — that will take time. That will require deals with media companies because there’s only so many channels that are widely available, et cetera. We need to do better on regional coverage and things like that and that will take time. But I think we’re covering a good part of what people are watching — and again, this is all on-the-air-now, live TV.
Have any of these channels outright told you “No”?
Well, no, they haven’t and we talked to 70 or 80 groups in the media networks, sports leagues, cable channels, et cetera, and the question is: go back to you the user. When you videotape television, so to speak, and send it off to Facebook, is that covered by the “fair use” part of copyright law or not? If the answer to that is “yes,” then we’re covered as well. Now, if you tape an entire two-hour show and sell it to a bunch of people, that is a violation. That is not covered by fair use. But, essentially, the tools you use — your iPhone, your DVR, are covered by that fair use when you do a small clip, and you express your self expression, freedom of speech, all those good things come into play, and we’re just a tool in the cloud. We’re no different than your DVR or your iPhone for that matter, so for a limited usage set, which is what we’re trying to manage with the service, it is absolutely covered by fair use and therefore all good. So we don’t necessarily need permission.
Clippit is free to download, so are you ad-supported? What’s the story?
Well, not now and not for a little bit. But as an area, for example, we would not run ads against the content unless we were sharing revenue with the media companies. That would put us out of fair use. If we made money off of this or if you made money off of this from your house, then you would be outside of fair use. So in order for us to make money on it, then we have to have an agreement with the media company. Now, on the other hand, we do give media companies usage data for free. After all, it is their content. So we’re here to help them; our main person that we’re focused on is the user, the consumer. If you find that you’re the only person on the planet that has clipped something that is just unbelievable, that is just going to go viral to a hundred million people and then delete it before anyone sees it, then it’s gone. It’s not ours, it’s yours. So you control it. Just like you would if you did it at home. So from that standpoint, the usage data is interesting and we do give that free to the media companies.
Is the endgame going to be though that you get media deals established with all these companies?
Sure. This is a really incredible fan engagement tool for the television industry. You can imagine people are going to look at your clips before they look at “Dexter’s” clips or the National Hockey League’s clips or whatever, because you’re connected to them. It’s an incredible fan engagement tool and there is a whole lot of things that media companies can do with this that we’re looking forward to doing with them and partnering with them. And that will require deals. There are some people who are laggards and some people who are leaders in using new technology, and we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully our business model is to help the media companies make money and do nifty things with their content, so we’re sort of the infrastructure folks. So we get allotted our small piece, so to speak, as YouTube does and other folks do for other types of content.
Are you worried someone will come out with an app that will allow for 35-second clips? How do you stay relevant?
Well, we wish them luck. This is not an easy thing to do. You’re not going to see a couple of guys in a garage do this — or girls. There are already people doing this, and so for us, it’s a matter of building the best product and I think we have developed the best user-equipment product that’s ever been produced and we know how to make it better, so we have to continue to run on that treadmill — and we also have to make sure the company does the right things for media companies. Right now, now that we’re launched, today, in fact, I talked to one of the baser networks and tried to get initial feedback for what they think is working in the app or not. You know, is something going too far or too little or whatever. So if other companies want to flirt with all that and do all that, I wish them luck. But we’re happy with the app and we’re also happy with our business model. We, of course, don’t give out all the secrets of either one, but if user clipping is going to be successful for media companies, then there’s going to be plenty of competition. And that’s always a good thing.
Every big media platform needs its big watershed moment — is the Ferguson announcement something that’s been trending a lot with Clippit?
I’ve been busy today, I haven’t looked, but it is true, it is very early, we have limited data, but there’s no question that big events create the most views.
SIDE NOTE: Jim’s PR person, also on the line, informed NMR that they’ve seen a lot of reporters using Clippit themselves to report on big events (since the launch) and creating verified accounts including Michael Yo, co-host of The Insider, who clipped the American Music Awards.
JIM: Yeah, I’ve been doing this technology meets media meets consumers thing for many years and one thing I’ve learned is that I don’t ever try to guess what’s going to happen. I mean, we launched before a football weekend, so we’ve had a lot of football clips, but I think over time, we’re going to see just an incredible array of stuff. I mean, let’s face it: touchdowns are a dime a dozen already on the internet, but watching fun stuff happen on the field or in the stands — those moments are underrepresented on the internet and I think those will start to be much more prevalent. And it’s not so much everyone seeing everything, it’s more sharing what you like with your friends and followers.
Do you have a must-clip Clippit footage moment?
Well, I’d have to say it’s tough to beat that catch that happened on Sunday (Odell Beckham Jr.’s gravity-defying clip that nearly destroyed the internet) as far as ones that have already happened. That was pretty amazing. I was watching it — I didn’t clip it myself because I figured someone else would Clippit and they did. But, personally, I like it and use it because I start my day on Facebook and so many of my friends post good articles about national events or world news or technology or science or stuff like that. And so when I go to Facebook in the morning, I see who’s posted what, and that might be my news feed for the day. If not, I’m a news junkie, so what I do with Clippit is, I watch the news and talk shows and the BBC and stuff, and so when I see something relevant to my friends and me, I will clip that and find a way to use it as a comment — talk about whatever is going on in the Middle East or whatever. Will that be a lot of clips? I don’t know, but that’s certainly where me and my friends will go more often than, say, touchdowns. The other thing is, younger people will do this instead of using GIFs, right? Because you can do a nifty little six-second blooper on somebody’s funny expression or some weird phrase. My son, the other day, we were watching a Seinfeld re-run and it was a funny little ten seconds … he got that and it was really pretty funny and then he got commented on it and his friends commented on it, so I think we’ll be pretty surprised on what is a “Clippable moment” for various people.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is very beneficial to media companies — it’s their beautiful content, it gives attribution to them, it’s like free advertising on a Facebook feed. You know those ads that go by on your Twitter or Facebook feed — those cost real money and now you’re posting them for free for the media companies. It’s really good for them. If they decide to participate in the revenue and the data, even better. So I think it’s very clear that this is a big positive for those folks.
Thanks, Jim! Hopefully this Clippit replaces the memory of that other Clippit — that annoying, talking Microsoft Office paperclip — in your mind’s eye.