Of the groups that presented at MuckerLab’s startup showcase last week only one could claim an assist from Mike Tyson.
TouchFrame, a startup that helps creates app-based game shows, presented its first product, featuring the former boxer and pigeon enthusiast as its first contestant (via pre-recorded video).
The game, “Braindex,” is a TV-style game show played through an iPad app, which combines video with the interaction of a game. At MuckerLab, the audience had the chance to face off against Tyson in a trivia match.
Imagine watching “Jeopardy,” but having the option to be a contestant – that’s what TouchFrame is trying to achieve and what company executives hope will eventually usher in a new generation of YouTube videos that allow interactive play. YouTube videos currently lack those features, and until that changes, TouchFrame and its games will be bound to the tablet apps.
“Because of the way YouTube is structured, there isn’t much chance yet for interactions,” said Sam Rogoway, TouchFrame’s chief executive. “That’s where we step in with our technology.”
TouchFrame co-produced “Braindex” with Endemol USA, the production company behind reality TV’s “Big Brother” and the game show “1 vs 100.” TouchFrame is developing game apps for some YouTube channels, though it wouldn’t disclose which ones.
The company was co-founded by Rogoway, Chris Lavender and Jon Zimelis and is currently working from MuckerLab’s Santa Monica offices. The founders come from a background in the app industry as well as video analytics, which is why the team is pushing hard to sign up more original YouTube channels. So far the company is mostly self-financed and will be raising a seed round in the coming months.
The business case for YouTube channels to start exploring the world of app-based game shows comes down to advertising. Rogoway said people playing games form a more attentive and engaged audience than those who passively watch videos. Game players have high rates of clicking on pop-up ads, meaning the games command better ad rates.
TouchFrame founders feel strongly enough about the ad revenue potential that it’s willing to develop the apps for free in exchange for a share of the ad revenue.
While TouchFrame hosts the videos on its servers, the long-range plan is to have YouTube house interactive videos features directly on its site. Rogoway admitted that getting fans of a channel to move to other platforms is difficult. But he’s hopeful that until YouTube changes its technology the most popular channels will have sway with fans to drive enough of them to move.
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