The real Emmy story last night came near the end, when Tina Fey arrived on the stage for last time and received the 30 Rock team award. She reeled off all the places where the critical hit could be seen online, including Hulu and NBC, and then said something like “and occasionally on TV” as well.
Perhaps Fey sounded a bit promotional but it seemed, well, normal. We definitely live in a video-on-demand world and TV shows are viewed when they are convenient for viewers. In her acceptance speech, Tina was shining the light on all the online access points.
However, we’re not searching with a video mindset yet. When googling “30 Rock,” you first see an NBC paid ad that directs searchers to their network portal. In the organic results, the program’s homepage comes up first. There’s no Hulu or other video access points in the results, only information about the award-winning program.
We’re still in that 500-channel universe, without an easy or standard searching mechanism. In this 30 Rock example, visitors are directed to channels containing their programs or else to the program homepage, rather than to specific episodes they might really want to see.
The TV shows aren’t directly accessible unless you are consciously refining results for videos or deciding to use a video search engine. When all the results are videos, at least you can save a few clicks. Still there tends to be duplication based on the different outlets and, even then, you may not land on the exact episode that interests you most.
On the video destinations, the searching mechanisms are somewhat lacking as well. For videos, the assumption is that you will know which episodes you have missed and browse what’s available until you find the right date and description.
At this point, people are trained to navigate through menus and directories, and don’t really know what they are missing. With search, they would be able to find what’s interesting within an episode or discover moments they want to see again. If there’s social inputs, then visitors would also benefit from what others have found interesting too.
In the search world, we know there are some real opportunities ahead. Now that viewers know their programs are available online, consumption can be increased with better searching and discovery mechanisms.