Welcome to TV’s Golden Age!

yidio-badgeOne of our favorite aspects of television’s new golden age is the amount of quality television that’s being produced…

Now “quality” is a nebulous term, as everyone has their own definition of what constitutes great television and what doesn’t, but what’s notable is that there’s a lot more programming out there that people think is good, and here’s why that’s important: as the number of outlets for television programming has expanded several hundredfold from just three networks, the overall quality of television programming has improved. This is in large part due to the fact that new players have the opportunity to serve niche markets that were previously underserved by a system that needed to cater to the masses.

Catering to the masses also meant catering to the advertisers that wanted to reach those masses. In the pre-cable days, the three networks wanted to gather as many viewers as possible in order to get as much advertising revenue as possible.

That makes it all the more impressive that shows like Mork & Mindy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and MASH were able to make it on air. Quality was not the order of the day: reaching the lowest common denominator was.

The status quo changed with the advent of cable, as more and more new channels hit the air, channels who were designed specifically to appeal to niche audiences. Those niches rarely equaled “quality” though (their targets were a little too narrow for a mass audience) until HBO began creating its own series in the late 1990s and shows like The Sopranos took off. What was unique about HBO (and its competitor, Showtime) was that they were subscription networks who relied on gaining and keeping viewers, not advertisers.

Freed from the need to appeal to a mass audience or the lowest common denominator, premium cable networks were able to go after a more highbrow (or middlebrow) type of programming, one that appealed to a media savvy audience. This created more buzz around their shows, which got them more subscribers, which gave them the revenue to produce more shows… well, you get the picture.

This paradigm has been replicated again recently, by streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even Vimeo and YouTube. They’re all chasing after the type of audience that’s enamored enough of high quality television to pay for it on a monthly subscription basis. These viewers are easier to maintain than viewers of ad supported programming because you’ve only got to rein them in once a month (or once a year, depending on the contract.) Networks who run ad supported programming have to rope their audiences in every time the show airs, a much trickier proposition.

These new providers will continue to grow — both in size and number — as the demand for quality television grows. The problem, of course, will be finding a way to sort through all the great television that’s out there.

Where there was once only one Sopranos, one Wire, one Homeland now there are now dozens of them. Throw in the ability to binge watch series you’ve missed, and you’ve just turned finding what to watch into a major job.

That’s the problem we’re trying to solve. With so much good television to watch, how do you find the shows you’re looking for? Even more importantly, how do you find the ones you’re not looking for, but should be?

We do that in many different ways: by surfacing our 15 million active users current favorites, surfacing recommendations based on your preferences and previous activity and by letting you search by keywords and genres through every streaming service you’re signed up for (or want to sign up for…).

As the number of good TV options grows larger and larger and as the number of sources for good TV grows, discovery will become even more important. This is especially true as the new wave of content producers tend not to release their programming on a weekly linear basis: like Netflix and Amazon, they release their series all at once. This makes tune-in messaging less necessary and discovery tools more necessary.

It’s a brave new world out there, but we like the way it looks. Quality television is growing and Yidio will be there to help you find where to watch, what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

View Along the TV App Landscape: The Early Innovators

Anyone developing mobile apps for TV should check out George Winslow’s excellent piece at CableBroadcasting, View Along the App Landscape, surveying TV apps from interviews with 25 TV executives.  While networks have had early successes launching second-screen apps that accompany TV shows, like the ABC Grey’s Anatomy app and The Royal Wedding by NBC News App for iPad, iPhone and Android that surpassed 200,000 downloads, executives in digital and mobile admitted to still refining the business cases for companion apps.  TV Everywhere apps are now taking the stage for networks like ESPN, CNN, and Turner, all of which continues to emphasize the complexity of TV offerings that fans need to navigate to access content and watch their favorite shows.

5 Tips for Engaging TV Fans on Facebook

Last week, we reached a major milestone becoming the number one online TV guide and online aggregator with 500 thousand likes.  Yidio strives to go build a deeper relationship with our community, beyond the one-time social interaction, both on our website and on Facebook. We want to encourage engagement for TV fans so they keep coming back to find, watch and share information about their favorite shows, movies and actors. On Facebook, more than half of our fans are regularly active with over 12 million page views per month.  Our posts are current, engaging and original but we also understand our community.  At our core is a young, influential TV fan that pushes Vampire Diaries, Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl to the top of our trending show charts each week. What is the key to keeping this fickle demographic engaged?

Fans Contribute When You Ask Them

  1. Offer original content that people want to interact with and share with others: Our fans click through and comment most on pictures, video shorts, interviews, outtakes and music clips. Anything that stimulates the senses or extends their relationship with the TV show, actor or movie = cha-ching!  Facebook has become birthday central for your social graph and this is true for celebs too. One of our recent high volume posts was a simple happy birthday shout-out to Kristen Stewart of Twilight.
  2.  Get the timing right: Live posting during shows encourages fans to give their opinion and also stimulates tune-in. When posts are current and relevant there is a massive uptick in meaningful feedback. Engaging our fans is easy when we post thoughtful, thorough episode recaps promptly after a show airs. These recaps also help to drive viewers to episodes they may have missed and increasing catch-up streams.  Some of the more general rules of Facebook also apply, for example posting during off-hours and on weekends results in higher engagement. These are the times when TV fans are actually thinking about, or watching TV and movies — during their leisure time.
  3. Stir up some controversy: There’s nothing like a tidbit on Jersey Shore or a personal milestone in an actor’s life to help stir the pot. People either love it or they despise it and this draws out the emotions and comments.  Reality TV shows, and especially the competitive reality shows like American Idol draw a lot of interaction because people feel a connection with characters they can relate to. When you combine real time posting with a reality show comment or question fans will respond.
  4. Ask questions:  Fans want to have a voice when they are passionate about the entertainment they are consuming. A prime example would be the post that drew the most responses on Yidio’s Facebook page to date. We asked Yidio fans if and how they’d be watching the Royal Wedding and nearly three thousand viewers chimed in with their thoughts. People want to be heard, all you have to do is ask!
  5. Reward fans for their engagement: Rewards don’t have to be tangible but giving back is always a great way to encourage interaction. Yidio posted an article around Reese Witherspoon’s 35th Birthday this year. We prompted Reese fans to tell us on Facebook what they loved most about the actress. We took feedback from the fans and added it to the article, pulling the most thoughtful responses from hundreds of submissions. It was fun making the fans guest contributors!

Allie Basilica, Social Media Manager

Media Unbundling & Barriers to TV Everywhere

In a recent post on GigaOm Andrei Jezierski dives into the puzzle of fragmentation and media unbundling in the TV ecosystem.  Based on his book Television Everywhere: How Hollywood Can Take Back the Internet and Turn Digital Dimes Into Dollars, he lays out some scenarios that synch with the Yidio’s vision of the future of television, “provide ways of discovering, keeping track of, sharing, and being rewarded for viewing shows that are widely-dispersed across hundreds of cable channels and web sources.”

Confusing rights relationships, variable release windows for shows and inconsistent availability across services, geographies, and screens makes finding watching and sharing frustrating and difficult for viewers.  Jezierski uses the TV show House as an example “On Hulu Plus (paid service), there’s a five-show inventory offered on an eight-day delay from broadcast, while over on Fox.com (free), five shows are offered on one-day delay for up to 30 days.”  He aptly summarizes one of the key issues for online TV viewers, as one Yidio user put it,  “Having to look all over the place for a show or only getting a few minutes of it, or not the full episode.”

TV fans want information about shows, topics, characters, actors that transcend networks, service and technologies.  Yidio indexes hundreds of online and broadcast TV sources in real-time to focus on providing a seamless user experience for TV everywhere, with the ultimate goal is personalized TV that you can take with you.

Cord Cutting: Five Steps that Feel Like Twelve

The five step guide to cutting the cord over at NewTeeVee, makes it sound easy to get rid of your cable or satellite subscription. But while evidence is mounting that the number of people ditching their subscriptions is climbing, it remains incredibly difficult to replicate the “lean back” experience.  In fact, so difficult, that it’s still a very early adopter segment.  Even though according to the Street,  The Convergence Consulting Group projects that by the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of cord cutters will reach 1.6 million or twice the audience they predicted in 2009, that’s still a very small number of cable tv subscribers or internet users for that matter.

As this phenomenon unfolds and the industry responds, cord cutters and internet video viewers alike, need better tools for find and watching the available TV content out there.  For people cutting the cord to save money, Yidio credits offers another option to watch premium content for free via our Yidio Credits program.

Amazon Prime: More Choices for Streaming

Amazon adds another service to the array of choices for people turning to online video and streaming TV shows, Amazon yesterday introduce Amazon Prime Instant Video. A great option for Amazon Prime subscribers who are already paying $79 per year for delivery, but its value is limited by its slim selection at launch.

For consumers its sort of like having a video store down the street since many of the movies are library TV shows and movies.   Yidio indexes Amazon Prime content just like Amazon On-demand content, so Prime members using Yidio will also be able to access everything they’re entitled to see.

For the industry, one of the more insightful commenters has been Glen Rayburn of Business of Video over at Business Insider.   Netflix’s lead in content is unlikely to last very long as Amazon brings more content to its instant service, and leverages its infrastructure to provide better quality. Just how divergent the two can become with regard to content, pricing or quality remains to be seen.  But the new pricing scheme is presenting another test case for multiple revenue stream (subscription and vod/ad-supported) acceptance by studios and networks.

Amazon Prime Launches