BBC iPlayer boss: smart TVs not sufficiently simple
IPTV UIs too complicated for viewers
Telly makers have been told to simplify the smart TV experience if they want more punters to take the internet-connected tech on board.
Daniel Danker, who runs the BBC's iPlayer operation, told an audience at the Digital TV Group (DTG) Summit in London today that connect TVs need to become less complicated.
Hooking the things up is hard enough, he reckons, and even then "audiences are presented with a list of choices that boggles the mind".
Worse, we'd add, a lot of those choices are free content sources stuffed on by TV makers to make their IPTV selections look more impressive and not because they deliver value to the viewer.
Giving punters some better IPTV content would be a good start, we'd say.
And Danker challenged telly makers' keenness to jump on the mobile app bandwagon to deliver functionality. Too many smart TV apps are not useful to television viewers.
"If you think about mobile, apps have revolutionised mobile phones, because they are relevant," he said.
Build UIs that work for TV viewers, not ones that emulate PC interfaces, he said.
Oh, and enough with the firmware updates, while you're at it.
Earlier this year, pollster YouGov found that TV makers are failing to persuade punters that smart TV is a good thing. More UK consumers are accessing IPTV content through games consoles than directly on their TV sets, it found.
This week, the DTG published plans to extend Freeview's Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) to allow viewers to search back past the current date and time to reveal programmes available to watch through catch-up services, like BBC iPlayer.
The DTG said it will work to establish frameworks for Freeview content to be routed over home networks to other TVs, tablets and smartphones. ®
If it doesn't pass the Mrs Miggins test it's a fail
Mrs Miggins is a technophobe lady somewhere between 40 and 80. She expects stuff to work without having to reason it through. She has a DVD player that she uses occasionally to watch videos of her grandkids and 'nice' films.
It is connected by SCART so, when she turns the player on, her TV switches automatically so she can watch it.
She was given a high definition DVD player withan HDMI connection. If she wants to use that, she has to flick the TV through ATV, AV1, AV2, FrontAV, PC to HDMI.
That is, if she can work out that it's not a numbered button she needs to press it's something called "Source".
Someone wrote it all down for her. She tried once, finding the "source" button and blipping through, but noone told her the set couldn't keep up and she spent the evening staring at a blank screen, wondering what she'd done wrong
She gave it away the following week..
HDMI was just the first step towards smart TVs from thickAsShit(TM) TVs and it was a huge fail for Mrs Miggins.
If the massive step backwards that is HDMI (never mind picture quality) is the best the TV industry can do for punters who are, for the vast majority, techno indifferent, then what the bloody hell can we expect with "smart" TVs?
Programme Guides littered with gratuitous advertising, More "Standards" than you can shake a stick at for online "catchup TV" - iplayer and whatever ITV, Channel4 and Channel 5 call their offereings. Manufacturer's smart TV internet portals offering a "User Experience* much like the dross that is a typical ISP's default homepage - full of tattlebits(TM) featuring photos of B list celebs, some with big tits , some with square chins (and some with both) and "informed" comment headlines. leading to uninformed stories of salacious drivel posing as news.
It makes Web 2.0rhea look like a pinnacle of intellectual achievement.
* An El Reg commentard once observed that a "User Experience" was something he had after 14 pints of larger and a vindaoo. The description seems appropriate for "User Experience" in this context as well,
Two things I hate.
First, like other have said, they don't make things simple enough. If you're going to have a bunch of inputs, why not make it so we can reach EACH ONE in just one press?
Second, all this talk of ipTV seems to ignore one BIG source of "ipTV": home networks! With all this talk of networked TV, it's hard to find a TV (or even a set-top box) that actually complies with the DLNA standard for home-networked multimedia. Kinda makes a MyBook Live useless without something to play off it. Apart from WD TV, nothing seems to have enough capability (not even Sony boxes, which CLAIM to be DLNA-compliant, but then you read the footnotes and realize they can't do AVC video over the network--(censored)). About the most ubiquitous DLNA-capable devices out there are the gaming consoles (the 360 and PS3 normally, but a Wii can be hacked to do it--sort of), but their interfaces and controls are a hunk of junk. No playlists, no loop support, and navigation is...my PHONE does a better job at handling the files.
Don't just make the TVs simpler, make them better suited for home media. THEN we'll talk.
iPlayer is the broken bit
My Samsung has wires for mains, antenna, satellite dish (ready for F1 on RTL!), connection to sound box/BlueRay, Sky+ box, disk drive and a single ethernet cable. Even without network connectivity, most people will have a large proportion of those if the TV supports it!
What would really help would be the TV companies to sort out a common way of viewing all their online offerings - at present I have iPlayer, but last time I tried to use it it crashed the whole TV! There's nothing for ITV, CH4 or CH5 let alone SkyPlayer.... Some people want to watch things that don't originate on the BEEB... LoveFilm seems to work perfectly. I gather the NetFlix app required the recent firmware update...
On the iPlayer front, Samsung respond to support queries but say its the BBC's problem and the BBC just ignore approaches for support (their contact for support pages don't even offer TV as a platform for iPlayer!).
Is this Sensible Friday or something?
Simplify consumer kit so it works easily and setup is quick? Pah! That's not the computer way. You should *require* a degree is something technical to be able to figure out which of the identical sockets you need to connect using cables that neither the TV manufacturer nor the Set Top Box manufacturer included in the package.
Next, it should be as hard as possible to do anything on the user interface other than watch streamed adverts. All users appreciate shiny flashy things trying to sell them stuff when all they want to do is something quite simple and specific, therefore these functions should be hidden and visually clouded as much as possible by advertising. All the better if the user can be given a cheap rectangular infra-red remote that barely works from 3' away and even then has a 1 second latency on anything happening in response to a button press. Old people? If they can't get with the times then they aren't worthy of modern TV and therefore shouldn't be permitted to use it.
Seriously though, most TV interfaces I've come across are terrible and while, being technical, I can cope with them (despite wanting to frequently throw the remote at the set), elderly people such as grand parents tend to have an awful time with them. It's not just the cheap freeview boxes than are like this either, many of the more pricey boxes confound all non-technical users.
>Hooking the things up is hard enough, he reckons, and even then "audiences are presented with a list of choices that boggles the mind".
My Samsung only needs a power cable and a wifi connection. You press the "smart" button on the remote, then pick iplayer.
I realise some makes may be slightly more complicated, but come on, let's not dumb things down too much. Or is he angling for an "iplayer" specific remote button?