1000 Channels and Nothin’ On

Posted by: Peggy Einnehmer
  • July 7, 2014
  • 1

1000 Channels and Nothin On TV_blogsizeContent curation is a hot topic these days, but I’ve yet to see something that makes it easy for viewers to (1) find the content they already know they like, (2) easily discover new things to watch based on what they like, and (3) get it all on their TV with a push of a button.  And that’s what we need more than ever.

Readers who were born before the 70’s (yes, the 1970s) will remember the days when TV viewing choices consisted of a handful of broadcast networks, which later grew to several dozen cable channels, prompting Bruce Springsteen to pen the song, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” back in 1992.  So why am I shamelessly recycling his title more than 20 years later?  The reason is that things have only gotten worse. Make that “1000 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”!  Don’t get me wrong; there’s no lack of great content.  The trouble is that there’s also no easy way for a normal human being to navigate their way through it.  While I may not represent the “normal” viewer, having studied the media business for approximately 50 hours/week for upwards of 20 years, I too suffer from the common man’s, content-consumption conundrum: something we’ll call entertainment overload.

On those rare occasions I have an uninterrupted hour in front of my glorious 60-inch TV (they didn’t have that in the 70s!), I spend at least the first 15 minutes finding something to watch.  Let’s see, there’s the season finale of Mad Men on my DVR, which I’m saving for the elusive L.A. rainy day, plus a few summer series I started recording based on friends’ recommendations or random billboards. There’s also a bunch of stuff I’ve watched intermittently on Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, not to mention all those premium channels available on demand (yes, I subscribe to all of them).  My challenge is finding and quickly navigating to that one special show with which I want to spend my free hour.

Fortunately, I’m willing to work for my entertainment.  Some people find having 5+ remote controls a scary thing.  I see it as an adventure.  So what if I have to juggle the sleek Apple TV remote, teach the Amazon Fire TV to recognize my voice (a better bet than the Xbox One) and tackle the U-verse DVR.   But that’s because I’m not really normal, as my resume attests.

As content providers and services continue to compete fiercely for our attention, the company (or device or app or channel) that delivers the one-stop, perfectly-curated-for-me destination is going to win big.  As a researcher, I know it will test well with consumers, and I’m sure I can help the inventor optimize features and pricing.  Anyone have anything that’s ready for primetime?

1 Comment
  • EJA
    July 8, 2014
    Great piece! It makes me wonder why the cable-box interfaces are so clunky and difficult to navigate.

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