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  • TV Guide: The TV Guide of Broadband Video

    Some brands are so ubiquitous that they become the touchstone reference point for others that follow. TV Guide is such a brand. With broadband video choices exploding, many companies would love to become the "TV Guide of the broadband era."

    Well it turns out that TV Guide itself wants to be the TV Guide of the broadband era. The company's Online Video Guide (OVG), launched in April '07, shows that it is quite serious about morphing its brand as the boundaries between TV and broadband continue to blur. Recently I caught up with Christy Tanner, who is's VP of Marketing and Editor-in-Chief to learn more.

    The key to understanding OVG's approach is that it not another pure algorithmically-driven video search engine. Rather, TV Guide is leveraging the company's strong editorial capability. First, it selectively chooses which video sites to index. Then it organizes/exposes the results in a way that makes sense to users, particularly those in the mainstream. It is also mixing in its own editorial content to give further context to the videos themselves.

    A visit to OVG shows that it puts access to networks' programs front and center, along with a prominent search bar. Christy explained that TV Guide has learned users' strong affinity for programs, not networks, is driving their search/discovery behavior. Clearly OVG's growth is intertwined with the surging interest in accessing programs online.


    OVG serves up results in both grid and list formats, with relevant metadata exposed. Conveniently, OVG has a tab for "Full episodes" and "Clips". If you click on "Full episodes", it will either display the choices or simply say "We did not find any videos matching your search" when the network hasn't made full episodes available (such was the case for "Mad Men", AMC's new hit, whose last 2 episodes I missed, and have been searching for ever since).

    OVG shares its own top picks, top 5 and 10 lists, provides a launch point to purchase programs, and highlights certain celebrities (currently Britney Spears, to nobody's surprise...). It also offers an e-newsletter, the Online Video Daily Scoop, with lots of highlights. OVG now indexes over 60 video sites, with videos from 25,000 shows, movies and celebrities, adding up to a total index for 200,000+ videos.

    Another smart thing about TV Guide's strategy for OVG is that it is putting a big push behind syndicating the product. It can syndicate the entire experience, just the front end, or the full data set. This leads to a mix of revenue streams - advertising, licensing and hybrids.

    There is no shortage of startups and others who are bent on capturing brand supremacy in the broadband video navigation space. Credit to TV Guide. It's defending its incumbency with an aggressive, user-centric game plan.
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