Cable TV Needs a New Interface

By | February 13, 2014

ID-100153000With competing companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime stealing away viewers, perhaps it is time for AT&T Uverse, Comcast, Dish Network and other “cable & satellite” TV providers to rethink their user interface.

For the most part, they have stuck to the traditional channel lineup, adding some streaming services as an afterthought to try to compete.  Maybe a completely new interface is what is needed.

Having used both streaming services and cable & satellite providers before,  I love how streaming content is usually organized, but get frustrated on navigating a typical cable or satellite TV menu.  It is just harder to find what I am looking for, and not easy to browse for new shows.

Shows Front & Center

First of all, people are here for the shows, not the networks, not the cable company… the shows.  Like Hulu Plus, shows should be front and center.

For example, I am not interested in BBC or Comcast, I am interested in watching Dr. Who.  I don’t care if the show is on Netflix, Comcast, Dish or whoever.  I want to watch the latest Dr. Who.

Make it easy for me to find and watch the shows I love, at a reasonable price, and I am happy.

Pick Your Live Lineup

Instead of jumping around all over the lineup, and remembering which show is on which channel, it would be nice to be able to easily pick your own lineup.

For example, the latest Dr. Who comes on at 7 p.m. today.  Set my TV to switch the channel to BBC America the instant it comes on. Then at 8 p.m. switch it to the channel that has Torchwood.  And then at 9 p.m. switch to the History channel for that WWII documentary, and then at 10 p.m. play the last recorded episode of Pawn Stars on my DVR.  Then turn off the TV since its time for bed.

Then have the TV turn on at 7 a.m. and automatically play the news, or some music while getting ready for work, and then shut off automatically when I am about to leave.  When I come home, have it programmed to come on with some music while I get settled in and have dinner, and then start airing the shows I have scheduled for the night.

I could plan my whole day in advance, and make sure I don’t miss the latest show I have been waiting for.

Live for Latest, Streaming for Past Episodes

It is great being able to watch a new episode as soon as it airs, but only after I have watched all of the previous episodes first, so I can watch it in context.  Access to the previous episodes in a steaming manner makes that possible.

Putting It All Together

I would love an interface where I can go to the Dr. Who screen and be able to:

  1. See when the newest episode will air and be able to schedule it to automatically come on at that time, live.
  2. Have access to watch all the previous episodes, organized by season.
  3. If copies of the show are on my digital video recorder (DVR), instant access to those.
  4. Ability to record it to my DVR, especially if the show is a one time event, like a concert or something.
  5. Subscribe to BBC America (or the package BBC America is in) if I am not subscribed yet, so I can watch Dr. Who.
  6. Previews and trailers for shows that are not part of my current package, so I know whether I want to upgrade to a new package to get the show or not.
  7. Obvious indications of whether a show is part of my current package, and if not, what packages is the show available in.
  8. A list of shows offered by BBC America (or whatever channel is airing Dr. Who, which may be multiple channels on some cable companies).
  9. A list of related shows I may be interested in.
  10. Access to Bonus materials, similar to what is available on a DVD movie or Hulu Plus: additional clips, behind the scenes, interviews of cast, character backgrounds, etc.

Number two and three may feel redundant, but since you already have DVR technology in place, it may be useful for reducing bandwidth used, since the show can be downloaded once, and replayed multiple times (perhaps for different family members at different times).

The DVR is also useful to keep around since one-time events may not be available for streaming later, so recording them would be useful for playback anytime later.

So, basically combine Hulu Plus with Cable TV, and you got what I am talking about.

The content is there, its just that it is hard to get to what you want, and harder than it needs to be to watch the latest episode live.

Some of these improvements would make the ultimate TV experience.  Hopefully someone builds it.  I know I would come.

Image courtesy of Naypong &


Scott M. Stolz

Entrepreneur, Educator, Author.
Helping people embrace life's opportunities.™