Video services

Pay TV Still Searching for UI Gold

Pay-TV companies are investing heaps of money in new user interfaces (UIs). But, according to a new study sponsored by semantic technology company Veveo, more than 85 percent of customers still can't find anything to watch, at least some of the time.

Veveo Inc. argues that current UIs are a big part of the problem, and that operators could reduce churn significantly by improving usability and adding new navigation features.

Cable companies widely consider TV search and recommendation technologies to be a crucial part of their program guide upgrade plans. Interestingly, however, the Veveo survey found that search functionality is much more important to subscribers than suggestions for new content to watch. Seventy-five percent of viewers said they would rather have better search capabilities than content recommendations. And, according to the research, customers would also be willing to extend their contracts, on average, by more than six months in exchange for a better search experience.

While cable companies are working to improve TV search features, the industry is also heavily focused on deploying new recommendation solutions. From integrating television with social networking sites to delivering content suggestions across multiple platforms, the theory is that implementing recommendation engines will drive users to watch more TV and make them happier about paying the monthly cable bill. (See Cox Brings OTT-Like Smarts to the Set-Top and Jinni Powers Comcast X2 Recommendations.)

Veveo also found that viewers are interested in new voice-controlled TV interfaces. Sixty percent said they would use a voice-controlled search feature if it was offered and, in a separate focus group, more than 70 percent said they would consider switching TV providers in order to try out conversational interface technology.

Among Veveo's semantic technology solutions, the company offers a natural language television interface. Veveo Chief Marketing Officer Samrat Vasisht told Light Reading at The Cable Show last June that the company has about 100 trials of the speech-related technology currently underway. Veveo publicly lists Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) among its existing customers.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

msilbey 12/30/2013 | 12:01:26 PM
Re: YouTube/PS3 Integration And if you don't have a game console, you can get a $35 Chromecast and do the same thing. It's phenomenally simple, and you can control everything from your phone or laptop. There are going to be a lot more of these HDMI adapters coming out in 2014. 
brookseven 12/30/2013 | 11:44:31 AM
YouTube/PS3 Integration So with most TV shows on hiatus until after the New Years my son and I were bored Saturday night with the offerings.  He was going to put up some YouTube videos on the TV via our PS/3.

He initially went to the web and I said, "Hey isn't there a YouTube App?"  And the answer was, well yes there was.  We played around with it and frankly it sucked.  Hard to search/few selections on the screen/slow scrolling.  Well, we went back to the web interface and watched a few things.  I then went to bed.

The next day, I found my son was back to the YouTube App.  I wondered what had changed and what he was able to do was pair the PS/3 YouTube App with his Smartphone (in his case an S4).  He could search and select the videos with his phone and then show them on the large screen TV.  It was really, really good.  As he said, "If I have this, why do I care about the Xbox One Integration".

The pairing is pretty simple and can be done via either a web interface or a QR code scan.  I have no idea if you can do it with an Xbox, but I really think those that are interested in TV UIs should take a look at it.


DOShea 12/30/2013 | 11:25:24 AM
Recommendations engines Is this bad news for the recommendation engine players? There seem to be so many of them.
ocean41 12/10/2013 | 10:07:05 AM
Technical Analysis You are absolutely right. They are doing a terrible job keeping the customers satisfied. And for the choice of selecting one between search option and suggestions remains unchallenged for search option. People definitely want to watch according to their taste than others'. So should keep in mind this thing also. As for the article, thanks a lot for sharing.


KBode 10/21/2013 | 10:48:49 AM
Have seen improvement, though... We've definitely seen some significant improvement on this front, though. Verizon's latest GUI overhaul for FiOS TV is the first time I can remember that customers actually got excited about a set top update. Comcast also appears to be making some nice strides based on the response to that recently leaked unofficial preview to the X2 software update. Granted for every Verizon or Comcast there's probably a dozen smaller cable companies who haven't updated their guide seriously anytime in the last decade. :)
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