TouchTV: A Simple App for Snack-Size TV on the iPad

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Personally, I don’t like watching long videos on the iPad. There’s too much other stuff to do, and I can’t sit still through an entire movie or TV show without succumbing to the tablet’s many other distractions.

So TouchTV, a new free app for the iPad, is ideal. The app aggregates Web clips from popular TV networks, such as ESPN, Discovery and Comedy Central. You just pick the channels you like, and TouchTV arranges them into an aesthetically pleasing array of thumbnails. The app also supports AirPlay, so users can beam their content to an Apple TV.

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SkyGrid, which developed TouchTV as well as its eponymous news app, struck deals with TV networks to scrape video from their websites, CEO Kevin Pomplun told me. Cable networks are skittish about putting full episodes online, let alone making them available for free on tablets and set-top boxes, so that explains why most of the content in TouchTV is limited to clips of roughly a couple minutes each. Pomplun did say his company is working on deals to stream long-form content as well.

But as I said, the use of short clips works well with my iPad attention span, especially for the kind of content TouchTV offers — mostly news, sports highlights and documentary clips. It doesn’t work as well for videos that only serve to advertise their full-length counterparts, such as The Daily Show‘s 60-second recaps.

Pomplun wouldn’t say much about what’s next for TouchTV, or what its business model will be. He mentioned “interesting partnerships” with cable operators, and long-form content coming soon, but said right now the SkyGrid team is mainly focused on the TouchTV’s design. At a price of $0, it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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