Why do digital TV interfaces all look the same?

December 24th, 2008 by Ben

A recent post on Contentinople by R. Scott Raynovich notes, “Nearly everybody on the panel zeroed in on the consumer interface,” pointing to the poor quality of current digital TV interfaces. This could be seen as rather embarrassing: the entertainment industry hasn’t yet invented a disruptive interface for content selection. My perception is that for the past decade and more, experts have focused on improving the UI by changing the layout, colors, navigation, buttons and all the other objects on the screen (TV or PC).

After so many attempts and so many UI concepts, one might come to the conclusion that the key to improving consumer experience is not in layout or graphics, but rather in the underlying data that shapes and limits the UI.

Take genre. It’s been the sole movie categorization method for the past 15 years. How creative can one be with the consumer experience when using such a one-dimensional approach? Check the TV/VOD services of major cable/IPTV operators, movie machines like Apple TV and VUDU, and e-commerce sites like Netflix and Amazon. It is amazing to see that all these entertainment services look alike in terms of UI concept. It makes you wonder about their creativity. But I think it’s the best they can do as long as the only underlying data they have is genre language.

To build a disruptive UI, you need a disruptive concept for underlying data: a multi-dimensional approach that reflects the many aspects and elements of the content. At Jinni we call this the Movie Genome.

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