BuddyTV has always been about helping viewers to navigate what’s happening on TV. While up until now it has primarily focused on building a community site for big-time TV fans, it’s now working to add some technology to aid in content discovery and navigation. After some development, BuddyTV will launch a series of iOS and Android apps next month that focus on improving content discovery by learning what viewers watch and offering up personal recommendations. In the meantime, it will be showing off those apps this week at Google I/O.
BuddyTV got its start by building a TV news, commentary and community site that is a bit like TV.com or Television Without Pity. But it has been working on building technology around those assets that will eventually provide recommendations based on the shows that its users watch and those that it believes they might like.
The first major step in that direction came last fall when BuddyTV released a series of apps for the iPad and iPhone that were designed to boost audience interaction with the shows that they’re watching. Those apps contained a program guide and integrated remote control, but they were focused more on building a social TV experience around conversations that users could participate in through the app.
But the next generation of BuddyTV apps will focus less on the social experience and more on improving content discovery. That includes remembering shows that a viewer has tuned into in the past and automatically adding them to a user’s “favorites.” Rather than creating a grid-like listing of all channels and shows that are on, it focuses instead on highlighting top viewed and recommended programming first.
According to BuddyTV co-founder David Niu, the company’s research has shown 70 percent of TV viewers watch shows that they’re not actually that interested in because it’s too difficult to search and navigate today’s programming guides to find relevant programming. In addition, 80 percent of users are open to a smart guide that can suggest new shows to watch. So BuddyTV tries to tackle both issues, first by showing tried-and-true shows viewers have watched in the past and highlighting recommended shows they might not know about.
At the same time, all of that user preference data would be useless if the BuddyTV apps couldn’t be used to actually tune into programming. But through a series of integrations with Google TV, TiVo and Dish Network DVRs, the BuddyTV app can actually be used to switch between channels for users that have the right setup. Just as important, the apps surface content available across multiple services, breaking down the silos that exist between live programming, content recorded on DVRs and programming that’s available on Netflix.
BuddyTV will be showing off apps in the Google I/O Developers Sandbox Wednesday that work on mobile handsets like the iPhone, as well as tablets like the Motorola Xoom. The company will also be showing off an upcoming app with a 10-foot user interface made especially for the next version of Google TV, which is built on Android’s Honeycomb operating system.