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Better Media Guides Needed

May 17, 2005

Thomas Hawk thinks that media guides need an overhaul.

Although his examples are specific to MCE, Thomas is quick to point out that pretty much all PVR guides suck, and he’s right. They all have content provided by one or two guide sources, and that content comes from the broadcasters themselves (and is usually pretty lame). But there’s better metadata right in the content stream…

What is needed first off is to begin indexing closed captioned text for all television that is repeated. Much of television is actually repeated. News shows will play the same shows over and over, programming will show on East and West Coast feeds, syndicated content has already been captioned, standard network repeat stuff, etc. By indexing these captions, even where the accuracy rate is say at 85% (closed captioning is kind of an on the fly thing and can be full of typing mistakes), you will dramatically improve the search experience and I just may be able to find not only an interview with Mr. Gates that was broadcast somewhere, but four or five news reports in a given night where his name was mentioned.

Hawk goes on to point out that it’s important (and will become more important) to also blend in the growing variety of micro and niche content providers out there.

I suspect somewhere along the way, having killer guide data is going to be a substantial differentiator. In fact, there’s probably room for an advertising supported or paid subscription “super” guide, if someone wants to step up to the plate and do the work.

This could also solve the problem that’s starting to emerge in environments like Windows MCE, where the big problem with multiple tuners facing different content sources is that guide data can only reflect one of them.

If you could subscribe to a custom guide that was smart enough to integrate your multiple sources, plus niche and micro content, and provide great metadata for searching, that would be a killer proposition…

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