Monday, December 26, 2011

Another review of zeebox as a SecondScreen experience

Last night, after the family made its way through the big turkey dinner, the discussion turned to what to watch as a family on TV.  As everyone reach for their paper-based guides for the evening line-up, I pulled out my iPad with zeebox.  I think the experience was much better than last time for Stimulating content and the Social experience.  The ZeeTags were working much better, as were "Relevant Links".  However, it seems the quality of the experience is tied to the popularity of show (meaning Zeebox is pre-processing content with humans for the upcoming popular shows).

A walk thru my experience:

First, the guide still has several different ways to sort the channel line-up (channel order, popularity), but still is not a real way to Discover new programming.  Search is still very rudimentary.  And your "friends" on Zeebox is still limited to your Facebook friends who have ALSO signed up for Zeebox (I still get confused by this requirement--see my other posts on Fanhattan and BuddyTV).

The show level UX is getting better.  The Twitter posts flying by about every second is still very distracting and still don't appear curated, but at least for the first show I watched ("Downton Abbey"), the ZeeTags and relevant links worked and had mostly meaningful detail behind them.  The "Apps and Downloads" section was only mildly relevant (seemingly off a single keyword in the meta data vs. being curated).  The details on the actors/cast on the left hand side is still not linked and unless they appear additionally as a Zeetag, there is no way to access their information (other than switching to your IMDB app of course).

As you can see in this "Zeetag level" UX, the level of information is getting better, each with a further nested level of related News and Apps/Downloads.

But the minute I left a clearly largely popular show (#1 during most of the 9pm viewing time), the level of accuracy and relevancy of the related Stimulating information fell off a cliff.  Below you can see the AbFab special with no relevant links what so ever (the Bourne Supremacy was nearly barren all over).  This is one of the larger SecondScreen problems to be solved--the rich meta data issue, allowing for a more automated approach to populating MANY, MANY shows vs. curating a few shows with humans and leaving the rest as a wasteland.

So, I am glad this was better than last week's performance, but I think it is more the result of the shows I tested than any major improvement in the underlying service.  I still owe a review with a "controllable TV" and during a show with pre-populated ZeeTags ("Desperate Scouse Wives").

- Simple.  Still low to medium--waiting for confirmation.
- Social.  Still medium.  Need to curate (and slow down) the Twitter feeds and improve the "friending" process and capability.
- Seamless.  Still none.
- Stimulating.  Better, but room to improve significantly on catalog shows.
- Discovery.  Still none really.

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