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The number of content sources between linear TV, video-on-demand, DVR and streaming video services is increasing, but as choice grows, finding, browsing and navigating video is becoming a big problem on connected TVs. As a result of this, consumer electronics manufacturers are seeking ways to break down silos and create universal search applications that can find content on whichever application or format that users want to watch it in.
Universal search is a big step forward and will reduce a lot of the headache associated with the hunt and peck of finding a piece of content. Applications like the ones put forward in TiVo DVRs, (s TIVO) the next generation of Xbox Live (s MSFT) and Comcast’s next set-top box (s CMCSA) all make it easier to search for a TV show regardless of whether it’s live or on-demand. But search only goes so far. To create an even better user experience, distributors and CE manufacturers will need to make things more personal.
Some are already doing this. Comcast’s new user interface hooks into Facebook and is identity-aware, enabling viewers to see what shows their friends are watching, liking or commenting about. Clicker, which was recently acquired by CBS Interactive, (s CBS) also hooks into Facebook to provide more personalized search results for the type of content viewers might want to watch. So far, however, these more personalized applications don’t necessarily include all available streaming content, and haven’t become widespread on connected TVs.
But this isn’t true personalization as much as it’s just allowing customers to set favorites and see content their friends like. True personalization would mean a smart user interface that not only could connect to content regardless of the format or device application, but recommend shows based on a user’s interests. That kind of personalization has the ability to drive even more viewership and engagement with content, since those videos will be more relevant to the user.
In my latest piece on GigaOM Pro (subscription required), I discuss the need for new applications for content discovery, who’s working to solve the problem and what the possible solutions are.