There's no shortage of online video to watch, but if you'd rather sit back and let an algorithm choose programming for you, WatzOn.TV might be what you're looking for. This service hosts more than 7,000 channels with virtually never-ending streams of quality content for you to consume.
Tom's Guide took some time to talk with the staff behind WatzOn at SXSW 2014, and learned a little more about its unusual premise. Unlike Netflix or Hulu Plus, which let users select full-length shows and movies to watch at their leisure, WatzOn automatically selects free clips from YouTube.
Since WatzOn boasts so many channels, they range from the general ("Old Hollywood Trailers") to the incredibly specific (all clips involving Amy Adams). Users can also create their own custom channels based on their own preferences and viewing habits.
Some of the channels also dip into dubiously legal material. YouTube users will often upload long clips from TV shows or movies, or even full episodes. WatzOn is fully capable of searching for every clip involving, for example, Homer Simpson and playing the highest-rated titles. These might be nothing but humorous quips, or these may be illegally uploaded episodes that Fox has overlooked.
WatzOn does employ some quality control filters. Its channels will not display YouTube videos with fewer than 50 views, and takes a video's number of likes and dislikes into account before playing it. Over time, user feedback helps channels show higher proportions of quality material, in addition to (theoretically) reducing the amount of illegal content shown.
Users can watch WatzOn on their computers, as well as their iOS and Android devices. Recently, WatzOn also implemented Chromecast support, which allows users to stream content to their TVs.
Watching a stream of short clips chosen at an algorithm's discretion may not sound like a great substitute for sitting down and watching a full show. However, WatzOn's staff believes that its method appeals to changing TV consumption habits.
A WatzOn representative pointed out that talk show hosts from Jimmy Kimmel to Conan O'Brien have already begun to upload their most popular segments to YouTube. Setting up a Kimmel or O'Brien channel gives viewers access to just the juiciest parts of their shows without having to sift through awkward interviews or dead air.
If WatzOn sounds appealing, it's free and easy enough to use, so there's little to lose by giving it a shot. Those who prefer choosing their own long-form entertainment will have to stick with more traditional streaming services for now.