Last week, Accenture released a poll expressing widespread annoyance with TV broadcasting.
Consumers are frustrated the firm said, with having to manually navigate through many different apps and menus to find what they want, and they crave smarter recommendations that take into account their viewing habits across apps. Respondents were also irritated by “inefficient” subscriptions filled with content that they will never see.
None of this is surprising. For years, I’ve written about the overly isolated nature of TV broadcasting and how we need better universal guides to make sense of all the options. But as we get closer to 2022, much of what users claim to want, in fact, already exists. With just a little initial effort, you can solve some of the biggest frustrations in streaming TV today.
This is how you do it:
Create a search habit
Figuring out how to stream a particular movie or TV show isn’t the big challenge that is often presented, as most streaming devices already allow you to search all the major video services.
If you have an Amazon Fire TV device, Apple TV box, Google TV device, Android TV device, or Roku player, just search for the voice search button on your remote. Search for a movie or show and you will see exactly where to watch it. (I suggest avoiding Roku’s $ 30 Express Player in large part because its remote doesn’t offer voice search.)
The challenge is more about remembering to use voice search in the first place, as it may not come naturally if you’re used to clunky wired remotes. But once you get in the habit, it could become your favorite way to surf.
make a watch list
Most of the major streaming platforms allow you to create a list of movies or shows to watch regardless of which streaming service they came from. Keeping these watchlist features in mind can save time later, when you’re not sure what to see next.
- TV on fire: From the home screen or the search menu, select a movie or show, then press “Add to Watch List”. You’ll find the list under Search> Library on the home screen.
- On Apple TV: Click on a movie or show in the search results or in the Apple TV app, then select “Add to Next,” which sends the show to the top row of the TV app. (The shows you watch in supported apps will also appear in this list automatically.)
- On Google TV: In the search results, or after selecting a program from the start screen, click the “Watch List” button to add or remove an item. You can also add programs directly from Google search results on the web. Just look for the “Watch List” button in the list of results.
- On Android TV: From the “Discover” tab, select a program, then click the “Watchlist” button. You can also add items to your watchlist through Google search on the web.
- of the year: In the Roku mobile app, select a program from the home screen and press “Add to save list.” To view your saved shows, head over to the Remote tab and select “Save List,” then tap any item to start playback on your Roku.
- On TiVo Stream 4K: In the TiVo application, select any program, then select “+ My Programs.” Remove items from the My Programs tab by long pressing and then selecting “Remove from my programs”.
One caveat: of the above options, only the Fire TV and TiVo Stream 4K devices allow you to add Netflix shows to your watchlist, as the company has long been reluctant to support such features.
If that’s an issue, or if you’d like to create a watchlist that’s not tied to a specific streaming platform, check out Reelgood or Just look. Both services allow you to create watchlists that work across all the major streaming services. You can also install their respective apps on Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV, or use the Reelgood mobile app to cast videos to your Roku.
Get custom selections
Universal search and watchlists are great when you know what to watch, but what about those moments when you are looking for suggestions?
If you have an Apple TV, the built-in TV app will suggest new movies and shows to watch, and if you scroll down a bit, you’ll find a “For You” row with custom selections. Additionally, Amazon Fire TV devices include personalized suggestions in the “Next for You” row on the home screen.
The Chromecast with Google TV goes even further. In addition to offering personalized recommendations at the top of the home screen, you can even tweak the algorithm to be more accurate.
Just find the “Improve Your Recommendations” panel on the home screen or head to Settings> Accounts & Sign In> Your Name> Content Preferences. You can also touch and hold any item on the home screen to like, dislike, or mark an item as seen. (If you have another Android TV device, you will find this customization tool at the bottom of the “Discover” tab).
Audit your subscriptions
Some of the frustration around streaming TV has less to do with browsing than it does with the sheer amount of programming on offer. The on-demand nature of streaming, and the growing number of services vying for money from cable cutters, has led to an unprecedented degree of choice, and no menu system, no matter how refined, will be able to make sense of it. to everything.
The best way to deal with this is to simply limit the number of subscriptions you have in the first place.
Canceling a service immediately after signing up is the best way to avoid recurring charges, especially when you only signed up to watch a specific show. You can also occasionally check for ongoing subscriptions that you might have neglected and see if your wireless service provider is bundling any of your desired services for free. By reducing your total number of subscriptions, you will also have a better chance at return deals and seasonal sales to further reduce the cost of cutting the cord.
To be clear, I’m not saying that the current state of TV streaming is perfect, but it doesn’t have to be a major source of frustration either.
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