Photo: TV Guide app screencap
Last night, TVGuide.com released a major overhaul of its iOS app—and it’s a vast improvement over the old television companion. The new TV Guide app is much more elegant and interactive than the first generation of the app, which felt similar to the old two-dimensional listings found both on the web and in print.
Last Thursday, we went over to TV Guide headquarters in NYC where we received a live demo of the new app from TVGuide.com General Manager, Christy Tanner.
According to Tanner, a team of 66 people have spent the last nine months perfecting the upgrade, the last time there was an update to the old app.
The new app builds much upon its predecessors, integrating a popular feature from its website, the Watchlist, which allows users to mark favourite television shows, celebrities, and actors, and has a more thorough and aesthetically pleasing “Classic Listings,” that allows users to see what’s on tonight.
The real take away of the refurbished listings app is a feature that will give instant television viewing options, one Tanner says will make the app the future of TVGuide.com.
“You’d have to go to like five different apps to get all of this,” says Tanner. “This app is truly one stop.”
See a rundown of the “future of TVGuide” >
Tanner may be right there, considering no other listings app gives users a seamless app-to-app links experience. Zap 2 It’s What’s On app has a nice, easy to navigate listings display. BuddyTV comes up a close second with similar functionality, allowing users to mark favourite shows, but also has the unique ability to remove channels you never watch from the listings.
TV Guide’s current edge is with the app-to-app links.
The first version of the app had seven million installations across IOS and Android, with a million and a half active users, a number Tanner expects to rise considering TV Guide spent zero ad dollars to promote its predecessor.
Photo: TVGuide.com / screencap
“Believe it or not, we’ve never spent a dime on advertising,” says Tanner. “We wanted the second generation experience to be here before we put giant ads on our website saying, ‘Get our app.'” Tanner says TVGuide.com used nothing but a small corner at the top of its website in minuscule font to promote its original app. She attributes its current 7 million IOS and Android users to organic search and word of mouth.
The TVGuide.com team put in a lot of time and research hoping it will become user’s one stop shop for entertainment.
The bulk of its efforts have been placed into instant video access through app-to-app links, allowing TV Guide to make use of other video apps on user devices.
One search through the app’s video tab will tell users the different outlets where they can instantly view one show, though the sources for this feature are limited.
Photo: TV Guide App screencap
Currently, the TV Guide app has eight app-to-app sources for launch: ABC, ABC Family, CW, Crackle, HBO Go, Cinemax Go, Hulu+, and iTunes. In the coming weeks, Tanner expects that number to increase 10-fold as they have a queue of nearly two dozen more sources ready to go. “We spent the last few years thinking about what the future of this business is, what’s the consumer problem we’re best positioned to solve?” said Tanner. “The world of entertainment is chaos, and we’re here to make it simple for you. That’s what this product does.”
For now, iPhone and iPad iOS users can reap the benefits of the app. The Android version of the app will be next to get an entire overhaul.
Upside: Fresh and updated slick look to the app. It's easy to navigate, and tells you immediately what shows are live and new.
Comcast users will feel right at home with the guide.
*Note: We've since found the app does indeed turn. We're unsure if the former was a simple malfunction; however, it's worth noting in case it has occurred for anyone else.
You're able to access the number of times a show will be on in the coming weeks, find whether it's available on demand, where it's streaming, and link straight through to another app.
Mini downside: Currently, you're only able to access shows from eight outlets including HBO Go, Cinemax Go, Hulu+, ABC, ABC Family, Crackle, iTunes, and the CW. According to Tanner, more sources will roll out in the coming weeks.
Currently, clicking on a show from the Classic Listings simply brings up a description of the current episode airing. If you're interested in catching up with any episode of the show, you need to have it in your Watchlist to find all of its sources.
Otherwise, you can also head over to the Videos tab for a quick search.
It would be more helpful (and we'd be really impressed) if there were a way to go right from a show selection on the listings page to a list of available videos to watch. We'd suggest buttons under 'Watchlist' showing current available episodes in a series.
Rather than scrolling through an actual television guide, this highlights the big shows and events that are on every night.
Downside: Again, you can't click on the shows from here to find out where to instantly watch. Any particular show must be in your Watchlist for this to work.
Downside: Trending numbers can be skewed because they're based according to people 'checked into' the show. The figures are based around an 'I'll Watch' button that is integrated on almost every page of the website, including the listings grid, and in multiple sections in the app.
The relaunched TV Guide app tries to be both the .com site and a listings app rolled into one--it's heavily loaded with breaking news and photos from the site.
One perk among the extras is easy access to Awards nominees and fall premiere shows and schedule.
We love that it gives quick, easy access where we can find movies, kids', and popular shows. A hidden gem is clips of classic shows including 'Seinfeld,' 'All in The Family,' and 'Married With Children' as long as it's updated regularly.
However, Tanner tells us the tab will possibly lend itself to advertisers or network channels in the future if they wish to promote one of its upcoming shows.
'If a broadcaster wanted to sponsor a channel that would be a great option for that broadcaster to consider, or if an advertiser who happens to create their own content featuring their product, that could be a channel here, delineated as sponsored,' says Tanner.
Currently, the app offers editorial picks along with celebrity stand-in picks. However, Tanner says they plan to unveil 'smart recommendations' in the future.
'We want to have a larger data set. We have 500,000 people who have created Watchlists,' says Tanner. 'We'd like to have a million as a baseline to say 'people who like 'Revenge' also like 'Once Upon A Time.' ' It's something we've given a lot of thought to and we want it to be great when we launch it.'
To be fair, The Buddy TV app is mostly compatible with Google televisions and TiVo Series 3; however, it's still a cool feature we would have liked to see incorporated through TV Guide's partner Comcast.
It's free, and if it's not your cup of tea, no money wasted.
If you have Hulu+, HBO Go, and ABC on your iPad or iPhone, the app converges all of them together.
Rather than opening up each entertainment app individually to find out if a show or film is available, you can open up the TV Guide app, do a simple search, and it does all the work for you, sending you straight to your app of choice.
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