Yesterday at the D9 conference a new player entered the content discovery market. Fanhattan debuted an iPad app for finding TV shows and movie titles online. Reminiscent of the old Comcast Fancast site (now Xfinity-branded of course), Fanhattan shows you where to find the videos you want so you don’t have to go trolling around the net searching Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, etc. It’s competing against several other content discovery engines – Clicker, GetGlue, Miso and more – but Fanhattan’s focus isn’t as heavily centered on social sharing as its established counterparts. In my opinion, that’s a strength for the new app. You can get social if you want, but if you just want to watch TV, you can do that too.
There are nine basic modules for TV and movie selections: watch now options, episode details, reviews, cast and crew info, video clips (if available) soundtrack details, fan gear, connect options (Facebook or email sharing), and similar content. You get to this information by tapping through to either the TV or movie main menu and then browsing or searching through different categories. Filter selections include the ability to browse by user ratings, top picks, release dates, and much more. You can also search for titles by keyword.
The Fanhattan interface is quite visual, and, being an iPad app, entirely powered by taps and swipes. I have a few nitpicks about the design, but overall it’s very effective. Not only does Fanhattan make it easy to get to the content you want, it also does a very good job with the content discovery function. You can start with one movie, browse information on one of the actors, and end up watching video clips for another movie entirely. Fanhattan also does a nice job of seamlessly connecting information to actual content. Click on Netflix for a particular TV episode, and the Netflix app launches so that moments later you’re watching the show you selected. I also found it very satisfying to have immediate access to lots of video clips and movie trailers, all from inside the Fanhattan interface.
There are a few negatives with Fanhattan. The app crashed for me a few times, and I got a little irritated with the sensitivity of the touch controls, which occasionally propelled me to new and undesired screens. Fanhattan also doesn’t collect video information from everywhere on the web. Shows available through my Xfinity iPad app, for example, don’t show up in Fanhattan’s list. Also, the review excerpts from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are nice, but they aren’t clickable for further details. Not a big deal, but a little annoying.
Minus the ability to stream content to your TV, Fanhattan looks a little bit like what the Boxee iPad app should be. We’re still waiting on that one (and all its promised media server goodness), but you can download Fanhattan for free today.