CozmoTV attempts to find order in YouTube chaos

New video search site has channel creation, personalization features.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

If you really want to find online video that you like, YouTube and its smaller brethren can be a daunting bunch. Wading through a swampy mess of "Watch my cat eat a Wii remote!" and "Funny Star Wars Kid impersonator" clips can get your metaphorical feet pretty dirty. In fact, I'm familiar with more than a few people who don't bother with the search and browsing functions on YouTube for that reason; the only way they find out about cool online videos is if they're alerted to them by a friend or a blog post.

That's the mess that CozmoTV is aiming to clean up. It's a still-in-beta site that aggregates content from user-generated video sites and organizes it in ways designed to make it easier for the average Web consumer to find the videos that they actually might be interested in seeing. As a result, CozmoTV doesn't actually host videos, but rather uses the content providers' own embedding capabilities to integrate the media into its interface.

There are two major ways that CozmoTV tackles the organization issue: user-created "channels" and personalized recommendations. They're both pretty self-explanatory. CozmoTV channels are collections of videos pulled together from various video sites by a single user: some of the most popular are a conglomeration of Borat clips and a collection of notable moments from The O'Reilly Factor. This way, if you find one snowboarding video that you like, you'll be able to find a whole bunch of others that have been selected by other CozmoTV users, both from YouTube and other video sites. Then there is the personalization feature. The more videos you rate, the better CozmoTV will "know" what other videos to recommend to you. (Kind of like Netflix.) I haven't yet built up a sufficient "rating confidence" to be able to really determine how effective this is, but it appears to work pretty well.

And there is more in the works. A few weeks ago, I spoke with CozmoTV co-founder Alex Rowland, and was really impressed by some of the features that the service will be rolling out in the coming months. There's TiVo integration in the works--bridging the divide between web video and traditional TV is a big goal for TiVo's corporate team these days. In return, it looks like CozmoTV may also be inking deals with TV networks to bring their streaming content to its search service. I'm optimistic about this start-up--it looks like there are some good things to look forward to. There might be way too many online video sites out there, but like Blip.tv (which has oriented itself specifically toward video blogs) and Gotuit (with its "deep-tagging" features), CozmoTV looks like it may carve itself a deep enough niche to become a lasting fixture.