TV Navigation Needs Its Own Model

Feb 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Though video search is still in an embryonic stage, a few key theories have already emerged about it. One such conjecture is that whether the interface is on the television screen, the computer screen or the mobile phone screen, viewers probably don’t want video search to be an exact replica of online search. Internet search is more about finding research, data or information, said Mitch Oscar, executive VP of Carat Digital.

But because TV watching is emotional by nature, video search works well only for the small portion of viewers who know exactly what they want to see, Mr. Oscar said. For those in the mood for a comedy or a romance, video search won’t do the trick.

“Anything that requires emotion, I don’t think search is connected to,” he said. “When you are in the mood for a comedy, how many hits and misses will you tolerate until your mood changes?” he asked. In many cases, the traditional means of navigation-scrolling through the interactive program guide, checking out premium channels, visiting the video-on-demand menu-work better than search, he said.

Current Web-based search models will not suffice in a video-based world, said Tom Tercek, president of SMG Access, a creative division of Starcom MediaVest.

“Traditional navigation models are not intuitive and require too much effort on the user to find what she or he is looking for,” he said. “A visual-based model is needed to encourage the serendipitous nature of video-based programming.”

While Web models may not immediately translate into the TV world, video search will probably mature first on broadband, because broadband innovates quickly, said Harry Jenkins, VP of technology and emerging media for Scripps Networks. Content players have a vested interest in video search because they want their programming to be found easily on any medium. That’s why Scripps has spent time in the last few years tagging its content with the appropriate metadata so it can indeed be searchable online, on TV, on its own Web sites and wherever else viewers look for content.

Now that video search has become the latest rage, that investment should pay off.

“What is happening is thermonuclear competition,” Mr. Jenkins said. “All these companies, from AOL to Yahoo to Comcast to Cox, are chasing this basic idea of search, play and sell-and that is going to drive an enormous amount of innovation in the market.”