The Channel Guide is Dead. Move on Already.

If I have to scroll through another channel guide, or search using an archaic user interface one more time.!.  I will just use my web streaming service instead.  At least the web, video streaming apps have started to innovate how the consumers click through to get their content. TV channel bundled providers (Cable Cos., AT&T, Verizon, etc.)  typically display ‘what’s on?’ in the form of the classic channel guide, or variations of it.   The TVCBP , or TV Channel Bundled providers,  also allow us to get through to content by drilling down into our desired genre.  Finally, the TVCBP allow the watcher to search ‘painfully’ using the TV remote keyboard.

The set top box evolution, such as UI revamp, are at times, slow like a huge glacier moving along in the Arctic.

Changes, here they come

First, the new ‘Media Guide’, is a display page of tiles, similar to Windows 8., Nintendo Wii, Netflix, or Amazon.  Netflix and Amazon are displaying tiled pages.  In each row users are enabled to horizontally scroll through the tiles of movie covers.  These tiled movie rows are grouped by e.g.  recommended movies based on user viewing history to ge

In this new paradigm, we add a level of abstraction to the row, grouping, scrolling carousel model.

Genre or N grouping of channels / media brands coalesce in clouds, such as cloud hashtags.   A person can drill into the ‘content universe’ and select a genre or grouping cloud. A user would navigate network icons in the ‘content cloud’.  Highlighting a network icon plays out the current, live video stream.

The ‘Content Cloud’ within the ‘Content Universe’ is the overarching paradigm.  ‘What are currently the most popular channels to view within the providers viewership’ would have each network icon color coded, e.g. red hot, cool blue.

A genre, or N grouping, has network icons grouped around the category.   Hovering the Set Top Box (STP) remote pointer over the network icon will popup a live stream from the channel.  Drilling down by clicking the channel/network icon,  a tiled view of the current and the next 24h is displayed. The current show has a pop up for the current streamed show, selecting it then plays in the entire screen.    If you hover over any future shows, one of two things occur. If there is a 30 sec promo for the show, a pop up shows the promo. If no promo, the show beauty shot still for the show is displayed. If the user selects the show, current or future, a menu overlays the still or show in progress with options such as record show / DVR.

The UI would also allow the user to create their own tiled pages using their favorite channels, and again,  hovering over the image would allow play out in a popup of the current stream.  The tiles can be sorted by your popularity rating, general popularity rating, ascending or descending title names, and most watched videos from the TVCBP.

If our TV bundled channel providers want to keep and lure new subscribers, then they need to innovate the STB software and think about how you evolve the viewer experience.

 

Video Streaming Services Roadmap for Content Suppliers, and Enhanced Portals

Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies use a scrolling carousel for their users to browse through their movies.  For Television series, web streaming services use a generic, series specific, image to articulate the whole series.  Movies simply show the cover of the movie box with options such as Play Trailer.

An augmented paradigm can help their viewers to select videos.  For Television, if the viewer selects a TV series, instead of showing a text description about the episodes listed for the seasons and episodes, each of the TV episodes for a season could be tiled across the screen.  The user first selects a season, and all the episodes for the season would be displayed in tile format.  If the user hovers over the episode image, the episode information could be displayed in a popup text box.   A “best scene in show” video clip can be played by the viewer.  “Best in Show” clips would be selected by the content provider’s expert media staff .

Going Beyond the Movie Trailer

If a user hovers over a movie box image, four small buttons popup over the image in the foreground and are accentuated.  The movie image gets dim in the background.  This viewing paradigm is similar to the cnet.com web site that uses the mechanism for viewing their stories, and for socializing their stories through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and email.  Selecting one of the three buttons will play a ‘content expert’ or a ‘viewer’s choice, favorite scene’. The fourth button goes to the show details page of the movie, as it does today.  Using this media portal format introduces additional ‘value add’ by the content providers, and makes the service go beyond the streaming of video.  The value proposition is simple, customers get entertaining insights into a movie they MAY select to watch, and the web streaming service is perceived to be more than just streaming, the service is filled with knowledgeable, entertainment media staff.

The movie expertise provided by the video streaming service may grow into favorite movie quotes, and optionally accompanied sound bites. An actor’s filmography may be displayed in the details section of the movie, with the option to drill down to the media content, if available for streaming or purchase. Furthermore, streaming services may partner with established movie expertise web sites.  Amazon’s Instant Video integrates media expertise from their IMdb,  Amazon property.  Video streaming services offered today are very little beyond, finding a random movie that catches your eye, or search for your preconceived movie, and take a chance to watch it.    Very little value add, if any, is provided to the video watcher.  Any company dipping their toe into this space has significant opportunity to distinguish themselves from other existing services.   Specifically, the content owners that go to the web streaming service model.  They are the best positioned to provide significant value add to their line up.  Throwing a large video archive at consumers shows the tremendous depth of available videos, but may be daunting for the video streaming subscriber.  However, if the streaming service are providers of expertise around their owned content, such as TV series out takes, cast interviews, scrapped clips, and any pilots that the providers never aired are just a few ideas.

Welcome to the beginning of the web video streaming services that mature as more content owners push the envelope with their power to create content, and maximize the usability of their assets.

Key to Success for Content Providers Offering Stand-Alone Web Subscription Services

CBS to Offer Stand-Alone Web Subscription Service – NYTimes.com.

The distribution channel must provide unique content through their channel or they run the risk of being a commodity rights owner that is only providing archived content.

Amazon brought it home for me when they hosted a single pilot produced by a partner production group. If the test markets had strong viewer ratings, more episodes can be ordered.

This will turn the dial from just an archive distribution rights platform ‘business model’, eventually a commodity, to a creative media value added service. This shifts the focus to creative content along the brand focus.

  • CBS produces or sponsors a pilot episode. CBS then advertises, short on air promos, web ads for the target demographic methods, etc. CBS gauges the popularity of the show. If market demand is strong, the provider can order more episodes.
  • Content providers can also provide unique content from their existing proprietary, content. ‘Web subscription only’ series episodes, available through their web subscription service.

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