New York-based mobile video startup Dreams is adding three new shows to its TV streaming service: The company is scheduled to add new episodes of the “X-Files,” “NYPD Blue” and the original 1960s classic “Batman” to its mobile video app starting this Thursday.
New episodes of each show will be added to the service every week. Each and every episode will be available as a vertical video, optimized for TV viewing on the go.
Dreams launched with a catalog of unscripted TV programming in May, and has since streamed shows from partners like Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network and Discovery Channel, as well as live news from Bloomberg.
“We wanted to redesign TV for the phone,” said co-founder Greg Hochmuth during a recent interview with Variety. This included taking the best things from traditional TV, like long-form content and scheduled programming for lean-back viewing, and optimize it for mobile screens and audiences looking for instant gratification.
The result is a not-quite-live programming concept: Upon starting the Dreams TV app, users can flip through a number of channels that present new shows every day. Each show starts playing once you land on the channel, and automatically pauses if you switch to something else.
An episode of “Iron Chef” streaming within the Dreams app.
More importantly, each and every episode has been optimized for vertical viewing. Dreams users can choose to switch to horizontal video viewing, but over 70% of them regularly watch their shows in vertical mode. “It’s more comfortable to hold” a phone this way, Bender explained, adding that popular apps like Facebook and Instagram all have trained users for vertical media consumption as well.
Dreams uses automation to convert live news feeds to vertical video on the fly, utilizing facial detection to pick the best section to crop. Shows like the “X-Files” are being edited with a combination of algorithms and human editors.
The results seem to be resonating with the app’s audience: Viewers tune in 24 minutes on average every day, said Greg Hochmuth. “People actually do want a long-form TV experience on their phones.”
Granted, compared to other ad-supported streaming services, Dreams offers a lot less content. The app is only serving up one new episode of a show at a time, with no archive to catch up on past episodes. However, Bender argued that this makes for a more social TV experience. “On demand is great, but in a lot of ways, it’s very lonely,” he said.