Mar 26, 2013

From NPR: Why Are TV Remotes So Terrible?

I made my debut on NPR this morning, and part of Neda Ulaby's piece on the issues that are holding back tech advances in the TV industry.

Let's call it the baby sitter's dilemma.
If you go to someone's house and pick up the TV remote, chances are, you won't know how it works. You know the situation's bad when even a tech writer who also majored in physics at an Ivy League school is confused by her own TV remote.
"It's unbearable to me," moans Ars Technica writer Casey Johnston, of her remote's many cryptic buttons. "Sub.code? Comp/mix? I couldn't even tell you what one of those things do, but then assign them to the same button? It just doesn't make any sense."
So why, at a moment when both technology and TV shows are so terrific, are interfaces so clumsy and counterintuitive? 
By interfaces, I mean both the actual, super-inscrutable remote controls and the unwieldy grid on our screens that many of us are forced to navigate to find what we want to watch.
And I have to confess the entire idea for this piece was inspired by Alan Wolk. His official title is global lead analyst at KIT Digital, and he writes a terrific blog called The Toad Stool. That's where I read his essay, "The TV Business: A Primer For The Uninformed," which elegantly points out how inelegant our TV interfaces are.

Mar 20, 2013

New On Digiday: Second Screen Is Not Social TV

While the terms “social TV” and “second screen” are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, two different experiences: Social TV is a subset of second screen — and a somewhat minor one at that.  
As technology and adoption advance, every show will need to come up with its own unique spin on what constitutes valuable second-screen content. For a baseball game, it may be a very graphics-intensive take on statistics; for a reality game show, it may be online voting. Those decisions are up to the networks and the individual show runners, who’ll need to balance their goals (e.g., increase tune-in or cement loyalty) with what their budget allows.  

Mar 14, 2013

From The Guardian: Beyond Apps: The Future of Smart TV

I have my first piece in The Guardian this week, the UK's leading newspaper and quite possibly the world's.

It's a big leap forward in terms of reach and I'm extremely psyched about it.

2012 Consumer Electronics Show Showcases Latest Technology Innovations
A smart TV's connected features can be controlled from a second screen, creating many different commercial possibilities. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
A recent study by the NPD Group showed that more than 40% of households with smart TVs have never actually bothered to hook them up to the internet. However, given the state of the interface found on most smart TVs, this should come as no surprise.
TV manufacturers got it into their heads that users might like an easy way to connect to Netflix. Which was not a bad idea. If only they'd stopped there. Instead, they turned the screen into a Compuserve 1993 concoction of random apps, few of which had anything to do with television...


Mar 1, 2013

Beet Retreat Interview #2: TV Everywhere

This is the second of three interviews I did during the Beet TV Executive Retreat - this one is on TV Everywhere.

As an indication of how fast the industry is moving, although we filmed this about 3 weeks ago, in the intervening period, Nielsen announced that they would soon begin counting views on iPads, Xboxes and other non-TV devices.

Since that was the crux of the network's objections to TV Everywhere (the fact that they'd lose ad revenue when people watched remotely on a iPad) it would seem to give a green light for a renewed push. One that may have the full cooperation of the networks, or at least their tacit blessing.

Read the full interview and story and