TV Coming Soon to Google

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Television Listings to Appear on Google

Television and the Web are going to become much closer. A couple of weeks ago, Google announced at a National Association of Broadcasters conference that they would start returning TV listings in response to searches:

What we’re seeing is that more and more, viewers are turning to their phones to find out what to watch, where to watch it and when it’s available searches for TV shows and films on mobile have grown more than 55% in the past year alone.

Google taking action on what they see people searching for makes sense. The question I have is what will they provide to us in response to showing off TV shows.

I did find a couple of interesting recently granted patents that show the Search Engine has been thinking about and working on this topic for a while.

Google TV Program Guide Patent

Those results will likely be more responsive at the search engine, allowing searchers to enter information about their cable provider to show programs tailored specifically to them. A patent from this April titled, Enhanced program guide tells us about how some of those results might look on your phone or computer monitor. We might see them in a carousel type display:

program guide carousel

We could also potentially see them in more of a grid-like display:

Grid like TV program guide

The patent details some relevance ranking factors that could influence the display of results:

TV program ranking factors

Second Screen and Social Networking

I also noticed Google detailing a second screen experience this past week, in another patent that involves social media and broadcast media. That patent aims to allow people to “share and view comments about broadcast media programs in real-time.”

I do often watch TV at the same time I am on my computer. It can enhance my enjoyment of a game of football to watch a broadcast and read and comment in a forum about the teams playing and the game being broadcast. I know that people likely do the same thing with popular sitcoms on TV such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. I do sometimes watch news events and visit a site such as Twitter to read and to write comments about the event. That was an interesting thing to do during Presidential Primaries this year.

Google was granted a patent this week on the convergence between these media types, and how they might try to enhance people’s ability to perform both activities simultaneously. Google tells us that they might act to meld these types of media together by:

….synchronizing the user interface displayed on a user device to the post stream associated with the particular broadcast media program; presenting at least one social network post-template associated with the particular broadcast media program; enabling user selection of at least one of the presented social network post templates; receiving an input that is an indication of a user selection of at least one of the social network post templates; and, transmitting the indicator of the selection to a social network server for publication in the post stream associated with the particular broadcast media program.

second screen experience

The patent where they detail this uniting of social media and television is:

Linking social media and broadcast media
Inventors: Ranjith Jayaram
Assignee: Google
US Patent 9,306,989
Granted April 5, 2016
Filed: October 16, 2012

Abstract

The various implementations described herein enable bridging the use of a social networking application with the viewing and listening experiences associated with broadcast media.

In particular, users are enabled to share and view nuanced comments associated with media content presented on the first type of device using Internet-enabled second devices. For example, a client device is enabled to synchronize a displayable user interface with a post stream associated with a particular broadcast media program as it is airing; and to present and enable user selection and modification of one or more social network post templates associated with the particular broadcast media program to produce a user-specific social network post. The user-specific social network post is then transmitted to a server system.

In addition to providing the social network post templates, the server system operates to publish the user-specific social network post in the appropriate post stream.

This screenshot from the patent stood out to me because it emphasizes the two-screen approach in this patent:

One of those patents involves how Google will show off television programs in search results.2 screen approach

Take-Aways

I can see a commercial aspect of such a merging of media types. This would go far beyond just showing what TV shows are playing in a program guide, like the first patent I mention in this post. Such real-time commentary could add to many people’s enjoyment of television programs. I’m envisioning people’s responses to advertisements during the Superbowl, as a way of building and reinforcing brands

The patent talks about how this system might be able to monitor broadcast media on older non-internet connected TVs and provide a second screen experience on internet-connected devices at the same time, which could also work if you might be watching away from home.

There’s some discussion of how a Set-Top box might be used in such a system and discussion of how Google could offer set-top boxes to show TV from multiple cable providers. If that happens, we could also see Advertising from Google coming from those set-top boxes as well.

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