Wednesday, 8 June 2011

People want to watch TV, not search

According to a recent report from Strategy Analytics, one of the reasons consumers haven’t taken to Google TV is the need to search for content. Content discovery has been a hot topic in the industry for a long time – it’s considered a key part of YouView, for instance, and is generally one of the major factors in trying to monetise “long tail” content. What’s surprising about this report isn’t that people don’t like having to work to find something to watch; it’s the fact that Google didn’t pick up on this.

Part of the reason, undoubtedly comes from its history as a search engine provider, but there’s also a different understanding of how people behave when watching the TV. The Google TV approach (and the traditional PC approach) is a “lean-forward” model of interaction, requiring active participation by the user – one that’s common in the computer industry, but much less so in the TV industry. By comparison, T-Bone, the new company launched by ex-CTO of YouView Anthony Rose, is taking a “lean-back” approach, which is much closer to a traditional TV experience and has been christened “veg 2.0”.

Many people simply want to simply sit back and relax when watching TV, not scroll through reams of content to find what they are looking for. As one of the participants in the Strategy Analytics survey said: “I don’t want to come home and have to search for content. It is too much effort. I want a Smart TV to know me. Smart TV, to me, is not me doing more work but me doing less”.

Making content easy to find is key, and search is not always the answer to that. Can Google overcome this? Maybe – but other providers are already working hard in this area, and some of them have a big lead. Search is one approach, but having a strong editorial voice that people can trust may prove to be the best long-term solution.

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