Saturday, August 06, 2005

Personalization for TV

Mark Cuban writes about the need for recommendations and personalization for TV:
We don't know what we want to watch as often, if not more often than we do know.

When we get to a point that there are thousands of on demand TV choices, we won't approach TV programming guides like we do a search engine, looking for a specific target. That's too much work.

The smart on demand providers will present their programming guides more like or Both of which do a great job of "suggestive programming."

We will get a personalized page with options that it thinks we might like based on our previous viewing decisions. Then different categories of shows, within each we will see best rated, most viewed and newest added, along with "play lists" suggested by branded guides who make recommendations.

All of these simple options will make it easy for us to make a choice with some level of confidence.
To search, you have to know what you want. Personalization helps when you don't know what's out there. Personalization surfaces interesting things you didn't even know existed, all with no effort, all with no work.

See also Chris Anderson's criticism of Mark Cuban's post. I'm not sure I understand Chris' counterargument, but he seems to be claiming that tyranny of choice easily can be overcome with more information. I don't agree, but Chris is a sharp guy, and it's always worth reading his viewpoints.

Update: Chris Anderson let me know that he updated and clarified his post. The last two paragraphs now argue that "infinite choice doesn't have to mean the tyranny of choice" and that people are generally happier with many choices. Still not sure I agree. At a minimum, infinite choice has a strong tendency toward tyranny of choice. As Mark said, people need help differentiating between large numbers of options and focusing in on just a few good ones.

Update: Chris wrote me again to say, "My broad point is that more choice along with ways to order that choice well is a good thing. The first without the second can indeed become oppressive." So, perhaps we do agree.

No comments: