by Mike Masnick

Is The Concept Of The Channel Over?

from the who-needs-'em? dept

The analogy that RSS is like "TiVo for the web" has been used quite often, but Ernest Miller is taking the discussion a step further by looking at in in the other direction. He notes that, despite the old prediction that there would be 500 cable channels (and, yes, nothing at all worth watching), it seems that most cable subscriptions have maxed out around 100 channels. Even more interesting (though, not surprising) is that the average person only watches 16 to 18 of those channels. While this may seem like an argument for a la carte television channels, Miller points out that it really means the concept of the channel is "dying." As he explains, the "channel" is sort of like the "bookmark" in a web browser. There's only so many you can use before they lose their usefulness. While people ended up with hundreds of bookmarks/favorites in their browsers, most people never really used more than a handful. However, with RSS, that's changed for many people -- who realize that the ability of the content to come to them makes a huge difference. Miller thinks the same thing needs to happen with television as well -- and claims that TiVo isn't there yet (though, you could argue it's not as far away as he thinks). Meanwhile, the entertainment industry approved attempts clearly are nowhere near what's necessary. People who use TiVos or similar devices probably already have a sense of this -- in that you don't even know what channels many shows are on. You just watch them when they pop up in your system. And, of course, as the channel dies, so goes the 30 minute time increments, as without a broadcast schedule, things don't have to be an exact time any more. Some of this may be a bit exaggerated -- as the broadcast schedule could be seen as a "release calendar" as well. However, it does help to suggest just some of the changes that television is going to need to go through in the next decade.

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  1. identicon
    TJ, 3 Jun 2005 @ 2:18pm

    Re: TiVos should support direct searching.

    TiVo does have a search that doesn't require making a wishlist entry: Pick Programs to Record, then "Search by Title", which then offers a choice of searching all programs or one of 17 genres like Movies, Drama, Sports, Comedy, etc. Search by Title only searches the title. Many of the genres have sub-genres, for instance Movies can be further narrowed to Horror, Fantasy, Adult, or 20+ more. If you are willing to take a minute out of your life to create a wishlist you can quickly return to it anytime to get lists of movies/shows nearly two weeks in advance by a certain director, with a certain actor, user defined keywords, or categories. You can even have some wishlist matches automatically recorded, in addition to scheduling "season passes" for specific recurring shows.

    It doesn't read one's mind to find shows you like, though the Suggestions feature will try to learn your tastes with limited success. A keyboard would be faster when doing a targeted search, but a nuisance the rest of the time.

    TiVo is not as cool as the "get anything on-demand anytime via the 'net" future that I'd like to see, but it is incredibly convenient.

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