Tumblr just released a social video-watching app called Cabana, where friends can watch YouTube videos together in real-time.
Up to six people can join and watch a video at the same time, and everyone can see each other's reactions simultaneously.
Cabana: How The Social Video-Watching App Works
Here's how it works: after joining a chat in Cabana, anyone can browse through YouTube and pick a video to watch. The video will begin playing for every participant of the chat; hilarity ensues. The point is to make video-watching more social, and more of a communal experience.
It's easy to imagine the endless fun users can squeeze out of this social-focused video app, with plenty of room for cat videos, fail compilations, and viral content. But Cabana isn't limited to those experiences, to be clear. Being able to put up a video from YouTube's colossal library entails potentially interesting talking points. If you enlist friends, select a TED talk, or perhaps a video from Nowness, or possibly even a video essay from Every Frame A Painting, then you've got yourself a meaty roundtable discussion.
David Karp, Tumblr's founder and CEO, is amazed that social video-watching isn't even a "thing" yet, despite the fact that apps for such a feature exist.
"When I saw [the app for the first time], I said, 'S[**]t, I can't believe you actually can't do this yet,'" says Karp. He outlines classic video-watching experiences, such as hanging out with friends in a traditional group chat, or sending someone a link to a video you want that person to watch, noting that social video-watching is quite different.
"But that experience of getting to sit there and [watching videos] with them as they watch it for the first time, that just didn't exist yet."
Karp has high hopes for Cabana, envisioning the app as a way for users to share content that's "ridiculous or amazing or totally insightful [and] incredible."
Cabana wants to become the virtual room where people chill and hang out by watching videos together. For friends who are both obsessed with a particular area of interest, like, say, Star Wars, they can put up a Star Wars video via Cabana and just watch — together.
However, Cabana is a different venture for Tumblr, a steeply popular blogging platform. But the core point the two services share is closer than you'd think. Tumblr is about bringing together a gaggle of strangers with similar interests, and Cabana fosters the same concept, albeit with people who are closer with each other. It's all the same mentality of group-wide connections.
Is Tumblr Using Cabana To Reach More Users?
Tumblr has around 23 million U.S. users, according to research company eMarketer, and Cabana would be a great new way to try and increase that figure. But Tumblr says that's not the case.
"I don't know that it's part of a bigger strategic direction or push," says Karp, while noting that the company looks at everything it launches as a way to attract more people to the blogging service. He also says that the company will remain focused on Tumblr, which could suggest that Cabana might be one of the few apps we'll ever see from the company, at least for the time being.
Cabana has begun rolling out to U.S. users on iOS, and is poised to reach Android users in a few weeks.
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