The future of television looks bright, thanks to the team at Stareable.
The streaming platform specializes in giving artists a voice, providing filmmakers, actors, and producers with a high-quality streaming site to showcase their individual talents (most which revolve around a web series).
I first spoke with Ajay Kishore about a year and a half ago on a sunny afternoon. The night before, I discovered Stareable after roaming Twitter, and was immediately hooked by the presentation and scale of what Ajay and his team were starting.
“Stareable believes that in television and in life, popularity doesn’t equal equality. We are surrounded by amazing free shows we’re unfortunately never heard of.”
In a time where the internet is becoming more popularized, where even the “dankest memes” are used to sell Taco Bell and Toyota products, the former bastion known as The Underground has become less authentic in practice and more artistically fashionable to market. Hell, even Jim Jarmusch loves Amazon.
When Ajay and I finally spoke, we talked about everything from television, substance in art, American media and movies — you name it. But by the end of the conversation, Ajay asked about my own projects and has since helped me develop my ideas into realities. Which brings me to this quote (courtesy of their About Page).So without further or do, here is our conversation. Hollywood, eat your heart out.
HG: How did Stareable come about?
Ajay: I love television. I would find and binge watch shows, but then I would struggle to find what to watch next. I knew there was great content out there, but YouTube was overwhelming and Googling “comedy series” seemed like I was casting too wide a net. One day it struck me — why isn’t there a better way to find what to watch? And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that’s something worth working on. I realized two things were key for this to work: 1) I wanted a single destination that spanned genres and platforms, so users didn’t have to care where a show lived and 2) reviews and recommendations are key, so you can filter based on quality and personal tastes.
I quit my desk job, convinced a talented group of people to believe in the vision, and bought an ever-improving selection of snacks. Over the past year, we’ve collected thousands of web series in one place, making it easy for users to browse shows, leave reviews, and find new, awesome content to watch. In addition to constantly adding new shows to our library, we are proud to empower web series creators by cultivating a community where independent productions can thrive. We love web series for their diversity; it’s a medium that allows up-and-coming, independent artists from every background to voice their creative visions.
HG: Where do you feel the future of TV is headed?
Ajay: Television will increasingly be independent, not just mainstream. Great shows aren’t just produced by big channels or production studios, and that’s immediately apparent when you sit down and watch the high-quality web series being created these days. All the time, we come across brilliant shows that only have maybe a thousand views. It’s criminal that they aren’t getting more attention and we’re excited to help them win the audience they deserve. As part of promoting these talented filmmakers, we started a blog where we interview creators and offer the latest news for people navigating the industry. It’s all part of our efforts to digitally wave our hands and say, “hey guys, you need to watch this show” while also helping to solve the problem that started all this: namely, “argh, there is so much content and I don’t have time, just tell me what to watch!”
We also know that television is increasingly being consumed across a wide variety of devices. As more audiences watch on their computers, tablets, and phones, there’s an opportunity to expand what counts as television. We’re incredibly excited about that. Think about what it meant to go from four broadcast networks to a hundred cable channels. As we shift from cable to the Internet, we’re about to see that magnified a million times over. We can’t wait to see what all of these newly-empowered creators come up with.
HG: On your About Page, you compare television to jazz. Could you tell me more about your theory?
Ajay: Jazz is considered one of the country’s original art forms. We think television is another uniquely American medium and we’re gratified that it’s finally getting the respect it deserves. When people talk about the current golden era of TV, they are acknowledging that the truly interesting and unique stories are being told on television right now. As Tina Fey recently argued to David Letterman, “TV’s better than movies. Everybody knows it.”
HG: How will you help to democratize the way audiences find creative content?
Ajay: It’s easy to know about the new Netflix show or the fall season on Fox — they market aggressively. But how do you find out about the next great web series? This only becomes a bigger problem as the quantity and quality of content grows. We want to democratize how audiences find shows so what matters is the quality of the show, not its marketing budget. We do that by only considering how users are rating shows, not who made them, or the size of their production budget, or the big names who are in it. We are always searching to give users that feeling that they’re discovering a hidden gem.
HG: Do you have any favorite programs that are currently featured on the website?
Ajay: So many! At the risk of leaving some shows out, recent favorites for the team (in no particular order) have included Beth and Charly, Charles by the way, History, Ask a Slave, The Fat One, K&A, Red Hood, Straight America, Brobot Johnson, Enter the Dojo, Rebrand, Noirhouse, NWAR, Quirky Female Protagonist, Hollywood Hitmen, The Most Popular Girls in School, Cap South, #HotMessMoves, The Rugby Bored, My America.
HG: From our conversations, I remember you stating that you had no experience in the film/TV market. What brought you to create Stareable and get into film and video streaming?
Ajay: It’s true — I used to work in finance but I’ve happily left that behind. I have a background as an engineer and I’m a diehard television fan. I always had the habit of recommending favorite shows to friends and fell in love with the idea of building something that could do that for more people and make sure shows find the audiences they deserve.
HG: What are some topics you personally wish were addressed more often on television?
Ajay: We love web series because they are a natural platform for diverse voices who would normally struggle to be heard on mainstream television — people of color, women, LGBTQ, religious groups, etc. Stareable is a passionate champion for these under-represented communities.
HG: What do you hope for the future of Stareable?
Ajay: What’s exciting about the project is that there’s a ton to do — we’re confident we’ve only scratched the surface. We want to meet more content creators and build tools to help them win and maintain fans. We want to refine our mobile experience and let users enjoy the site on internet-enabled televisions. Perhaps most importantly, we want to continue to improve how users can discover great shows.