Crackle Bows New TV-Like Interface (Always Playing), Unveils Scripted Shows

Sony Service Aims to Bring the TV Experience to OTT

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'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.'
'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.' Credit: Crackle

Crackle on Tuesday unveiled a live-streaming user interface that it believes will offer viewers (and advertisers) a curated experience designed to replicate the look and feel of good ol' linear TV.

In its first official upfront presentation since announcing it would ditch the cluttered NewFronts scene, the Sony-owned Crackle took the wraps off "Always On," a new format that begins playing full-screen video as soon as the user launches the app.

As the video plays -- let's say it's an installment of Jerry Seinfeld's popular "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" -- the user can toggle through a menu of content related to that particular streaming program. The new format replicates the old "eureka!" sensation of stumbling across something good while channel surfing, while also making the search functionality a more user-friendly experience.

Powered by Adobe's Primetime software, "Always On" will debut on Roku in May. Other devices will come online over the course of the summer. (Among the platforms on which Crackle is available are Apple TV, Xbox, PS3, Kindle and Nook.)

"At Crackle, we are reimagining ad-supported TV," said Crackle GM and Sony Pictures Television Exec VP-Digital Networks Eric Berger, by way of announcing the "Always On" initiative. "With compelling programming and an innovative new viewing experience, Crackle is the perfect combination of linear television and on-demand that provides advertisers with additive solutions that capitalize on the best of both worlds."

That Crackle views itself as more of a TV network than a pure digital-video play was made manifest by Mr. Seinfeld, who was on hand to hype up the sixth season of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." In a riff on the scourge of user-generated content, the comedian dismissed YouTube as a "giant garbage can."

Season 6 of "Comedians in Cars" is set to bow on June 4. Among those riding shotgun with Jerry are "Seinfeld" alum and "Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus plus Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Steve Harvey and "Daily Show" rookie Trevor Noah.

Crackle also took the wraps off its first scripted drama project ("The Art of More," starring Dennis Quaid) and said it has picked up a sequel to the zombie-outbreak film "Dead Rising: Watchtower." Also in the works is "Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser," which picks up where the 2001 David Spade curiosity left off, and Bryan Cranston's stop-motion superhero animation strip, "SuperMansion."

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