This social network for movies and shows aggregates 100+ streaming apps and tells you what to watch

New York startup FLYX wants to make decision-making easier and faster for viewers. This streaming-focused social network pulls content from 100+ OTT apps.

FLYX was born out of serial entrepreneur Shashank Singh’s own confusions over what to watch on OTT — a problem that ails a majority of viewers. 

The abundance of streaming platforms (40+ in India) and the explosion of content has led to an acute decision paralysis for audiences. They are constantly looking for viewing recommendations from friends, family, peers, and social networks. 

Shashank Singh (left) and Mayank Mishra, Co-founders, FLYX

For FLYX Co-founder and CEO Shashank, it was no different.

“I am one of the cord cutters who watches a lot of streaming content. Because there is tonnes of content available now, I’d end up wasting hours deciding what to watch. I’d also text my friend Mayank [Mishra, FLYX Co-founder] and he would suggest shows. We’d rely on each other to find stuff. On doing research, we realised that this was a larger problem. That is how FLYX was born,” he tells YourStory.

Industry estimates indicated that OTT viewers spend an average of 24 minutes per session deciding what to watch. With more streaming services and content in the pipeline, this is only going to get worse. But, FLYX has a fix. 

It is a cross-platform aggregator of OTT content on top of a streaming social network that helps viewers discover shows and movies from all major services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Apple TV+, Hulu, Google Play, etc. in an engaging manner. FLYX’s unique algorithm provides quick and targeted recommendations by weighing users’ individual viewing tastes as well as suggestions offered by their peers and social networks. 

FLYX wants to fix the decision paralysis in OTT viewers

Shashank says, “The core principle of FLYX is to reduce your decision-making time with an emphasis on finding positive reviews from the people you trust along with your personal taste. FLYX is inherently very social and fun to use. Our algorithm is the closest to the real world [a human recommendation].”

With the motto of ‘Stop Searching, Start Watching’, FLYX launched in April 2020 after being under development for a year. Its launch coincided with the lockdown-induced peaks in OTT viewership around the world. 

The 10-member startup is headquartered in New York, with six remote employees in India. It is contemplating setting up an office in Delhi or Mumbai.

Key features and how it helps viewers

FLYX is available on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. It underscores the fact that it is not a streaming service. 

“We do not have free access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney, Quibi, Hotstar, CBS, etc.,” it states on the app listing.

What the platform does is pull in shows and movies from 100+ streaming providers, and sort it based on genres, languages, IMDB ratings, trending titles, and what friends are watching. Users can choose the apps they want to view content from and also add language/genre filters to focus their search. 

FLYX sorts content based on genres, service providers, ratings, etc.

With the ‘Create Stories’ feature, FLYX users can also let their friends and contacts know what they are watching, recommend a title, or ask a content-related question by cross-posting on Instagram and Snapchat. This feature drives greater engagement on the app and makes FLYX more social.  

Shashank explains,

“Nielsen said in a study that 66 percent of our video-streaming habits are influenced by friends and family — people whom we trust the most. So, we created a social network on top of content aggregation. The present generation uses Stories to communicate. So, we built that within the app. You can also chat one-on-one or create group chats to share shows, reviews. Chat was built to foster interest-based discussions.” 

FLYX is compatible with voice assistants like Alexa and Siri

FLYX creates a central pool of trailers and reviews that users can watch and share on their feeds and other social media networks. They can also create smart watchlists with titles from all apps and use voice commands to seek recommendations. The app is compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Home.

The founder shares that FLYX is testing a ‘share watchlist’ feature that will allow users to embed their lists within blogs, sites, and share them across networks. “We’re also aggregating media reviews and ratings from Google within the app. So, you have a one-stop entertainment shop,” he says. 

Growth and monetisation

In four months, the app has recorded over 45,000 downloads and 35,000 email sign-ups across platforms. Almost 70 percent of its users are from India

FLYX is also seeing “decent” traction from the UK, Australia, and Middle East, along with the US. Its end  goal is to create the “next big social influencer platform” centred on OTT. By 2021-end, it targets a reach of 2.5 million users

Users can share their recommendations on Snapchat and Instagram via FLYX

Shashank observes,

“Until some years ago, if you came out with a new social network, people said the market is saturated. Then came TikTok and changed everything for everyone. It opened up investor sentiment and they believed that a new social network can come and capture the market.”

“Nobody gets bored of movies and shows, so there’s a lot of potential to create a new social network in this space,” he adds.

FLYX is free and ad-free for now, but the startup’s monetisation plans include ad and subscription revenues. It is also looking to create affiliate partnerships with OTT services providers where it can earn commissions on driving subscriptions to the platforms. 

The startup will be focused on India and the US, two of the world’s largest OTT markets. “In the last one year, India has become the hotbed of global streaming wars. On top of that, there are so many local providers here. Why would anyone want to miss this opportunity?” says the founder.

Funding and OTT landscape

In July, FLYX raised $200,000 in a pre-seed round led by HNIs, including Raj Mishra, Chairman and Founder, AIT Global. The startup plans to use the capital to accelerate product development and expand its services in India. 

Shashank says, “We have seen encouraging growth over the last few months, and consider this to be the right time to scale our operations, Our immediate plan is to enhance technology, and add more streaming and social networking platforms to provide users a more comprehensive experience.”

FLYX curates content from 100+ OTT apps

Raj Mishra, Chairman and Founder, AIT Global, said at the time of funding, 

“The [founders’] ability to identify a need and quickly adapt to consumer needs positions the startup beautifully in this constantly changing marketplace. With content consumption at an all-time high, the need for a utility like FLYX is undeniable.”

Between 2018 and 2019, India’s OTT industry eclipsed the century-old film industry in size. The number of service providers has also ballooned. KPMG estimates India will have 500 million video viewers by 2023. 

This, of course, presents a huge opportunity for players like FLYX. To narrow user’s choices and direct them to the most suitable content platforms. 

It has peers like JustWatch and Flixjini that help with tracking, filtering, and easing discovery of content. But FLYX’s social networking integrations and personalised recommendation engine separates it from the rest.  

Shashank sums up his vision by saying, “Aggregation is becoming a commodity now. Other players are doing a good job of it but they are not really solving the problem of decision paralysis. They tell you where to watch, but we give you an answer to what should I watch today?”

Edited by Teja Lele Desai


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