Need your GIFs in full-screen mode? Tumblr has you covered with the launch of Tumblr TV. The rollout comes mere weeks after the company launched a GIF search engine. It wants to make GIFs instantly more discoverable, and more importantly, shareable.
How does ‘TV’ fit? Tumblr TV will allow you to pause, play, move forward or backward. Sounds like a Tumblr DVR, but TV rolls off the tongue better.
The good news for GIF lovers is you do not have to be a Tumblr user to enjoy the TV portion. When the GIF search engine rolled out earlier in June, you had to be logged in for searches. Tumblr TV removes that barrier and will inevitably capture more users because of it.
Launching Tumblr TV will automatically play the GIFs in full-screen mode. It’s not exactly ideal thanks to the low-resolution nature of GIFs. But, it could be the start of a quality trend. If so, who wouldn’t be onboard with that?
Watching the service, each GIF plays on a timed loop and then advances to the next one. Users that hover their mouse over the interface will see the source of the GIF and Tumblr blog it was first posted too. Tags for the GIF will also appear, as will the controls mentioned above.
Bill Eager, Tumblr’s Product Engineer, summed up the launch:
“GIFs are a core feature of Tumblr, and we are always thinking of different ways to surface and present the popular medium. There is an endless amount of incredible GIF content on Tumblr that deserves more visibility, and we wanted to create a way to beautifully and easily deliver GIFs directly to our users without any interference. Tumblr TV also allows creators to reach a new audience and engage their existing audience in an entirely new way. It’s another great discovery tool that evokes curiosity and makes it fun to get lost on Tumblr.”
Using Tumblr TV
Tumblr TV has a variety of access points. You can visit the service directly, or you can start search GIFs. The direct point of entry will show the trending GIFs of the day, which are compiled based off freshness and engagement on the site.
A search will yield your unlimited cat GIFs along with the corresponding tags and source(s) you are used to. With the launch, users will notice a television icon just above the search results. Clicking it will launch the TV service.
One glaring drawback to Tumblr TV is it is sandboxed. It’s done to increase engagement, but opening Tumblr TV to non-registered users presents a problem. You cannot share the GIFs you find to other networks. You can favorite and reblog them on Tumblr, but that’s it.
There’s no third-party integration with GIF sites such as Giphy. Granted, with 239 million blogs, 112 billion total posts and 80 million new posts daily, Tumblr isn’t lacking for content.
It does feel like a missed opportunity to secure more users. Let people share the content on social media.
At launch, Tumblr TV only works on desktops. The company does want to find a way to bring the experience to mobile in the future, so it’s a matter of when, not if.
GIFs are not exactly kind to a mobile browser, especially mobile Safari. It gets pissed at ESPN. I’m assuming it would melt in my hand staring at cat GIFs for a few hours