Entertainment Data Relevancy—A Tale Of Two EPG Screens


data relevancy in tv listings
Data is data, right? Especially ENTERTAINMENT data?

After all, the info about a show doesn’t change. The way it’s served up doesn’t matter, either. One size fits all, no fuss. And, if that’s what you’re thinking, you should probably think again about entertainment data relevancy.

Because, a simple comparison of screens for the same program from two different EPGs tells two very different stories.

As you’ll soon see, data can be served up in a variety of ways. Some good, some not so good. Let’s take a look at these two screens:
Same program (in this case Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals between the Spurs and the Heat) yet different Electronic Program Guides display the info in totally different ways.

Now, let’s for the sake of argument ignore the fact that the data may sometimes originate from different sources. (That would be FYI and its competitors.) For the sake of this discussion, let’s just deal with the EXACT SAME DATA being implemented by different TV services.

We’ll break the screen down into specific units for comparison—and show you just how DIFFERENT the EXACT SAME DATA can be:

DATE/TIME: On the right, the first EPG simply lists the time at the top of the screen, with the date at the bottom. On the left, the EPG lists the TIME immediately after the “Date” designation, then the date afterward. As folks are generally used to immediately understanding the syntax of a date or a time, one might argue that the “Date” designation isn’t necessary, but the flip side of that argument is that being explicit allows viewers to go directly to the information they’re looking to find.

The correct date and time designations directly affect DVR recording—which is of key importance, given the increasing use of DVRs. Also, the correct date and time that drive viewership to an event also help to retain viewership on fringe programs surrounding the initial show. Certainly, the correct date and time are essential for live events—like sports programs—that are more inclined to be appointment viewing.
entertainment data relevancy

GENRE: On the right, there’s no associated genre or type of programming listed whatsoever. On the the left, there’s a “Genre(s)” designation that lists Shows, Sports & Fitness. While this designation is correct, it may be a bit too broad and the “Fitness” portion of the designation is a touch misleading to someone wanting to find the NBA’s greatest players vying for a championship.

The most correct and specific genre titling helps to drive appropriate viewers to the most appropriate programming they seek. For example, a fan of fitness shows can be a very different thing than a fan of the NBA. In much the same way, “Drama” can mean many things—so additional descriptive genre information is preferred. “Drama, Western” can serve High Noon, and “Drama, Romance” can serve Love Story.

EPISODE: On the right, the title of the episode—“Game 7”—has been incorporated into the beginning of the episode’s description. On the left, the episode is clearly separated and designated, along with the Air Date.

The proper episode title lets viewers know if they’ve seen a particular episode before. And, in this age of the second screen, the episode title is of particular importance for those viewers who enjoy searching online for deeper program info while they’re watching.

DESCRIPTION: With the exception of the EPG on the right incorporating the title—directly attaching it to the associated description onscreen—both descriptions are identical (and were generated by FYI immediately after the previous game to avoid a TBA or blank description entry.)

Updating a description with key facts (in this case, Game 6 was settled in overtime) makes a description more dynamic—and informs the viewer to an even greater detail.

A description not only gives the viewer some idea of what a program is about, but it can also entice a viewer with attributes of interest from the program. So it’s not just a laundry list of elements, but a descriptive communication delivered for the specific purpose of informing a TV viewer.

CAST: The EPG on the right shows both teams, and all the associated game play-by-play and color announcers—including sideline reporters. The EPG on the the left? There is no cast information included, even though it was provided in the original data.

Because viewers frequently select programs on the basis of a favorite actor or actress, designation of cast members is very important. The cast can even indicate which season of a program is airing—to those viewers who know their show so well, they can detect changes in casting. “Who’s in it?” is just as important to some viewers as “What’s it about?”

SAP/CAPTIONING/LIVE: The EPG on the right provides no information indicating any of these metrics, while the EPG on the left uses info graphics at the top of the screen to designate the presence of SAP audio, Closed Captioning, or the fact that it is a live event.

The SAP and Captioning indicators help special viewers watch with customized options. Captioning is great for those who prefer to read the program, for those situations where other volume levels preclude easily listening to a program, or for the hearing impaired. The Live designation lets a viewer know whether a program is recorded or being broadcast live—of particular importance for sporting events & other live programs.

DURATION: While the EPG on the right makes use of a simple numerical countdown, the EPG on the left uses a “duration bar” that fills up right to left on the screen as the program proceeds.

Duration lets a viewer know how long they can expect a program to last—so they can gauge their investment in time. Duration can let a viewer know how long a show has already been on, or how much longer it will last in order to determine whether they’ll view a certain show, or how long they’ll have to wait until another program begins.

Exact same data. Two very different approaches to presenting that information. Strengths and weaknesses across the board for application by two different content providers.

The good news is that not only does FYI provide the versatile, flexible data that drives both EPGs, we also have a lot of thinking behind best practices when our clients need such expertise.

But why not find out yourself? Click below and we’ll let you Demo Our Data so you can experience all that versatility firsthand!


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