Digital Services Know What I Watch, But Do They Know What I Need?

Do great TV minds think alike -- or can that be just some lack of original thought?

For the second in the same week a major TV executive -- referring specifically to Pandora -- said TV will get more personal in the future. It comes down to this: Consumers will have their own TV entertainment playlists, generated by some service based on personal histories.

Pandora is a  personal music app that allows consumers to focus on a category of music, a particular artist, or a group of artists. From that, Pandora feeds music their way -– with some advertising breaks. For a few bucks a month, they don’t have to hear those messages.

The first Pandora reference came from Hulu’s Jason Kilar. Then Time Warner Cable’s Peter Stern said almost the same thing.



Right now TiVo and other services can do some of this kind of scouting for TV viewers.

Time Warner’s Stern said it should go further -- that in the future you might have to subscribe to all cable networks you watch. Indeed, research has shown that viewers customarily only watch nine or 11 channels out of the hundreds they receive via cable, satellite or telco.

While we like that, this gets into the touchy near-term issue of “a la carte” programming. Overall we wonder whether it really will help viewers get new TV shows and movies that they really like.

With Pandora, you can “sample” music in three-minute or four-minute chunks. But TV and movies need more time to test the waters. Will theater-like movie trailers be enough?

If I watch a bunch of CBS dramas, will I get more dramas? Perhaps I actually need some comedy or reality shows, or a real-life high-speed car chase in Los Angeles.

Thousands upon thousands of choices exist in TV and movie content. I may only really want to try around five of them.

All this is important for both TV marketers and consumers. How do the marketers get on consumers’ personal lists? And how can they be certain about consumers’ sometimes-changing personal preferences?

In the modern TV land, things aren’t perfect -- including those times TV execs are thinking about the same stuff.

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