Helping you remember programmes
The Prototyping team is developing a prototype to help you remember TV and radio programmes that you've been meaning to watch and we thought we'd write about the stages of development of the project as we work on it. This is our original project description:
"It gives you one place to keep all those TV and radio programmes you've been meaning to watch. Maybe your friend told you something was good, maybe you saw a trailer on TV or read a review in the paper or maybe someone tweeted about it. This is a cross-platform service that allows you to store those recommendations for a more convenient time.
At its core it is a list of programmes accessed using the web, with a number of easy ways of getting things onto that list and a number of useful ways of viewing or being reminded of the things on that list. It supports viewing and listening by broadcast and on-demand services from the BBC and elsewhere."
First, how the idea came about. We were originally intrigued by some prototypes from friends-of-R&D Rattle and MetaBroadcast that were about recording people's intentions to watch programmes and we wondered about other aspects of the lifecycle of TV and radio programmes in peoples' lives. We know that many people make to-do, to-watch or to-buy lists on paper or computers or email themselves reminders and, specifically around TV and radio, they might circle things in the Radio Times or book recordings on their PVR. We asked around a bit about how people remember programmes and confirmed that people often use a number of disparate tools to remember. We also dug a bit into what remembering means in this context; to have somewhere to put the thing you want to remember, to remember where you put it and to have an easy way to find it again.
There are lots of ways of finding out about TV and radio programmes; from word-of-mouth to billboards to EPGs to broadcast trails. And there are lots of ways of watching programmes; on-demand services like iPlayer, time-shifting programmes on your PVR or plain old-fashioned live TV and radio. Our hypothesis is that there is a gap in the services the BBC provides; between someone becoming aware of a programme and then deciding to seek it out to watch or listen. That gap is the process of remembering. We want to try to design a service that will help people capture this intention to watch or listen as near to the initial point of awareness as possible and then remember it for them.
What else is there?
In the world of TV and radio there are some device- or service-specific tools that try to solve parts of this problem already. Sky's Remote Record lets you remotely schedule recordings on your PVR from a computer or mobile. A number of online video services have a video "queue" - YouTube have trialled this and Boxee and Vimeo both have a "Watch Later" feature. The green button on a number of digital TV platforms is used for trailer booking - pressing the green button while watching a trailer will set up a recording booking on your PVR. Podcast subscriptions will download all episodes of a programme automatically. And, of course, you can use iPlayer favourites to see when new episodes of your favourite programmes become available. But we haven't anything that is designed for both online and broadcast TV and radio.
Who's it for?
Initially we will be aiming the prototype at the most likely users of a service like this. We think these will be people who like TV and radio but are discerning about what they watch, have limited time to do so and will go out of their way for shows that they like. They might have a PVR, they probably use catch-up services like iPlayer or 4OD and, importantly, they are likely to have a smartphone.
Our challenge is to design and engineer something that helps you remember programmes that you are interested in. We want it to be something that will help you remember programmes that are on in the next few days, things that you've just missed but aren't yet available on-demand, things that you missed but might get repeated some day and things that are "coming soon". It should be designed to let you note those things down as soon as you hear about them and is focused, easy and convenient enough to make it repeatedly useful.
The next post in this series will be about how we've approached this challenge and what's in the first iteration of the prototype.