Exploding TV (Guide)

tvg1.jpgTV Guide gave me a sneak preview of their new video search, due out in April. Click on the thumbnail to get your sneak preview of the home page.

The world does, indeed, need new guides to the new television. The old TV Guide wouldn’t suffice because TV isn’t scheduled anymore, it’s on-demand; the choices are unlimited now, as are the sources. So a guide for the new age of TV has to provide the means to search and browse and, I’ll argue, recommend from an endless supply of content to a boundless world of individual tastes.

The new TV Guide search is emphasizing “professionally” created video. As you can guess, I’ll quibble with that. Much of the interesting TV being made online isn’t coming from big companies and studios and isn’t necessarily professional. We need a service to help us find the good stuff among the new stuff. See Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal praising some of this new series TV; he, like I, discovered much of it on Blip.TV. Mossberg also praises another guide, Network2.TV (on whose advisory board I sit).

It’s a damned complicated new dial TV Guide finds itself spinning. So I agree with their mission to find good TV, not all TV; we need a meritocracy of recommendations. I also understand their decision to go with the big guys. They want to serve a mass audience still (though the mass audience remains an illusion and some of the small TV shows being made by little guys are drawing audiences as large as those on big, old cable). They don’t want to provide a guide to flaming farts; the world doesn’t need that. And they don’t want to overwhelm people looking for TV online. So searching just the studios and networks gives them a more manageable world, safer and bigger. But they say they will expand their sources beyond the 50 big-media sites they’re starting with to what they call “semipro content.” I’ll certainly encourage that.

tvg2.jpgNow having said all that, the search is nifty (click on the thumbnail for a view). If you’re looking for ‘The Office,’ you’ll get the show, not office parties on YouTube (though, just to beat this horse, I’d also like to find Office parodies on YouTube). When you search on Office, TV Guide will give you 222 results, all related to the series; Blinkx returns 900,000 results and Google Video 24,000 (only from Google and YouTube), most obviously unrelated to The Office.

TV Guide lets you drill down in any search by network, genre, length, and soon star. Click on an episode and you’ll go to the source and watch it there. That includes going to iTunes, where you can watch, buy, or subscribe. TV Guide is not hosting the videos and doesn’t have relationships with the studios and networks (though they’ll clearly be delighted for the direct links to them). TV Guide will also make editorial recommendations on the home page. And they will be linking to their incredible data base of reviews and listings of shows. No one knows more about TV — at least old TV — than they do. They’ll also point to the most popular shows (as measured by clicks from the TV Guide site). And you’ll be able to create playlists. They’ll enable linking from their very active blog community and also enable users there to upload their own videos. In a later version, we’ll be able to syndicate our playlists to our sites.

Now that some networks are pulling their clips off YouTube (stupidly, I’ll say again) and retreating to their own walled worlds, it is harder to find big-TV shows online. So TV Guide’s timing could be better. That will be the first place to go to find network series online. Now we’ll see who will be providing similarly authoritative guides for the new TV.

Added disclosures: As the producer of two new small-TV series, PrezVid and IdolCritic, I clearly have a vested interest in being found. And I was the Couch Critic at TV Guide for six years in the ’90s. I’m a TV guy.

Oh, and yes, I’m glad to be getting two sneak previews of new stuff in two days. Keep ’em coming.

: ALSO: The aforedisclosed Network2.TV is giving away $25,000 in prizes for winning videos about “How to Watch Internet TV.” You have a week to enter and explain to big media executives everywhere how TV is exploding. Winners will be announced at the Video on the Net conference, in San Jose in two weeks (I’ll be there).

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  • http://www.tvguide.com Kirsten Rasanen

    Thanks for the write-up, Jeff. As you noted, our goal is to help folks find the TV they’re looking for online – find it easily and find it fast. We’re starting with the online outlets for traditional TV, but rest assured, ‘New TV’ will be included soon. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have PrezVid and IdolCritic indexed!

  • Greg0658

    Thanks for the lead – looked into yesterday – got my feet wet. I like the add / delete favorite channels. Why does NatGeo digital show up when I don’t ask for it? Is that marketing or a glitch?

    Looked again just now. Wanted to check search capabilities.

    I’m a surfer. Each minute of the day I surf available content (tv, radio, web, newspaper, magazine, book, my A/V collection)(gotta add the real world) and stop and intake if it captures me. Currently I find me more interested in web interaction, thats today, cause I’m as fickle as the next.

    But if I could search a topic of interest – I may put it on my calendar like a date.

  • http://www.3screens.net Alan Weinkrantz

    Jeff…great post. I am a trial user of the AT&T U-verse service in San Antonio.

    Why doesnt AT&T have their channel guide listed on TV Guide?

    Any one know?

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  • http://www.meevee.com Michael Raneri

    Interesting innovation on TV Guides part. Jeff you really should check out http://www.meevee.com and see what is currentlly available that I believe “project stingray” was modeled after.

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  • http://www.TelevisionMomments.com Joe “Couch Potato” White

    I didn’t even know they were working on this. I’m glad somebody over at TV Guide has figured out that this is the way we want to search for our shows now.

    I just put 4 paper TV Guides in the recycling can that have never been openned or read.

    I can’t think of a reason to try and dig through a paper listing any more.