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Thursday
Oct072010

TV Features I'd like to see

Picking up on my promise from the last post, here’s a description of the features that would actually get me excited about being a leading adopter of TV 2.0.

I’ve also called out some principles which vendors should take into account in building these future offerings.

Social Features

Well, now that my TV is connected to the Internet, I expect a lot more.  What do people increasingly do using the Internet? Connect with friends–that’s what I want to do with my TV now. This doesn’t mean that I want to use my TV to view Facebook and twitter updates. It does mean that I want to connect my TV watching experience to my Facebook or other social network graph.

Principle #1:  Facebook is THE social network.  Twitter matters too.  Google, Apple, Netflix, et al, should be leveraging the social graph rather than trying to own it.  Facebook should not be an app that you can use on the device, it is a set of features that all apps should leverage. 

Watch with me!

It does mean that I want to be able to invite my friends to watch with me.   Even though we are alone and apart, we can share that together experience of watching and reacting at the same time.  Why not give me an easy way of inviting friends to join me in watching live TV, scheduling a time to watch a specific program together, or negotiate a time to just hang together virtually with a shared video feed?

Share reactions

Even if that watching isn’t at the same time or in the same place. Why can’t I record myself reacting to what I’m watching and have that get played back to friends when they watch it? Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear your friends laughing instead of the insipid laugh track that comes with sitcom?

Along those same lines, why not let me verbally comment as the movie gets to my favorite part? “Okay here comes the best part… God, that is so funny!”  Wouldn’t listening and adding to my friends reactions be far more fun than reading static text comments?

Principle #2:  Text is not native to TV.  Text is an intermediary form, which is useful for categorizing and skimming.  It’s natural to type at a computer, but both TV and mobile are much more naturally attuned to video, audio and still photos.

Tagging

In all of the TV offerings that I’ve seen, tagging is only applicable against entire shows or movies, which is really not compatible with the short attention span of today’s viewing public.   I need to be able to tag scenes, which is a level of detail that would really open up the usability of legacy content.

Who has seen this, let’s talk about it

I never have, and probably never will, engaged with a public forum to discuss things I have seen.  BUT, I talk with my friends about movies, shows, and videos all the time.  Why can’t we have that conversation through the TV?  Why can’t I find out who has also seen this movie, enter into a conversation about it, and when we discuss the favorite parts, have those auto-tagged? 

FAQ – advanced commentary

The internet provides easy ways of digging deeper, where traditional video is very 2-D.   Anyone who has ever listened to the commentary track on a DVD knows that this is great adjunct content, which deepens the viewing experience.  Internet connected TV can add that depth on demand, and I’d love to see an interface which gives me an indication that there is more to be seen here, and allows me one click access.

The added content can, and should be living.  As viewers ask questions, the content producers can update the metadata, and deepen the viewing experience.  If you’ve ever visited the LostPedia, you’d realize how useful and engaging it could be to be able to immediately read the footnotes on each character and referenced occurrence as they happen in the show.

Shared buying / renting

A simple, but compelling feature adjunct to “watch with me” is, when I rent or buy content, I should be able to watch it with friends who aren’t at the same location, without them having to pay.   From the viewer’s standpoint, this is identical to inviting friends over.

BTW – this is a huge advantage of Netflix, that once you’ve paid the subscription fee, its all included.  As long as your friends are subscribers, you can watch the same content for no additional fee.

Principle #3:  Meta-content is more personal, compelling, and sticky than content.  Treat my contributions as gold, and you'll lock me in.

Principle #4:  Buy once.  Track my ownership, and never make me pay again.  Do that and I'll love you.  Forget it, and I'll hate you (Apple).

Renting

Why can’t I rent out my owned content?  How is that any different from taking a dvd to a friends house or logging into my account from the friend’s place?  I understand the content companies wanting a piece of that, and I’m ok with it.  But if I’m going to add all of this value by commenting, tagging, organizing and recommending, and I have actually purchased the content, why shouldn’t I be able to amortize the cost? 

Following content

Once I’ve watched and liked something, chances are that I want to be explicitly pinged when there is new content.  Don’t make this happen through email.  Make it happen when I am in selection mode – ready to view.  When I am doing email, I’m not looking for TV content.

Mobile features

As my TV experience becomes more and more a product of my programming (by selecting, commenting, tagging, sharing, and rating), it becomes more and more important that my choices influence the availability of content on all devices. 

Of all of the vendors, Netflix seems to be closest to getting this.  There is an “account” which tracks all of my activity, and gets smarter about organizing and recommending things for me.  No matter which device I use, the “account” is up to date.  This means that I can start watching a show at home, pick it up halfway though on my phone, and finish it on my iPad. 

Any of the big players have to remember that any device is only part of my world.  Apple sort of gets this, Sony is lost.

Add to my lists

Conversations about video should have two lasting artifacts – a list of “do watch”s and a list of “avoid”s .  A voice app which gives me a quick add to either of these would really help.

Selection Features

Deep search

I looked into Autonomy’s technology for creating a deep search based on speech recognized soundtracks three years ago.  Why aren’t we seeing this woven into all of these guides and services?  The “text” view of a video provides an invaluable way of skimming and searching.   Maybe I want to find that one conversation between Neo and Morpheus, not the whole damn matrix.  Why can’t I just look up “the desert of the real” and not have to wade through multiple websites?

Voice search

Typing on a TV sucks.  Adding a keyboard is only slightly better.  Why can’t I just tell my remote “rent avatar”?

Comprehensive search

When I am selecting content to view (ie using a TV), it is incredibly frustrating to look for something and not be able to find it.  For example, Star Trek the Next Generation is still not available for any kind of download.  To find that out I have to separately check Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and the TV networks.  For more obscure content, I’ll get nothing back from my TiVo search.  However, if I do a web search, I’ll get buried in fan sites, official sites, and other detritus.  What I want is to know how to watch that content. If there is no way, add it to my wish list.

Principle #5:  Failed searches show intent.  There is opportunity here. 

Conclusion

So that is my list V 1.0 of desired features for TV 2.0. There’s no thought in here as to how hard or expensive these are to provide.  I trust the industry to figure out how to do that.  If anyone has questions about what it would take to implement these, I’m happy to discuss.

 

 

 

 

 

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