Remember TV Guide? It used to come with the Sunday paper; pages and pages of what was going to be on TV that week so you could plan your schedule around your favorite shows. There was also that channel (in my town it was channel 2) that just had a continuous scroll of what was on. I remember being so frustrated when I clicked in at just the wrong time and had to wait like three minutes before it came back to the channel I wanted.
That, of course, was in the days before Tevo, before access to hundreds of television stations was the norm, before you could stream any show you want right from your laptop or even your phone. Nowadays there are so many way to access original content that some people are predicting the demise of television.
A new era of television
TV Guide is long gone, but enter Boxfish. This new product—from two Irish dudes who sold their digital entertainment company Red Circle to Zamano in 2007 for 24.4 million euro—wants to reconnect you with your TV by recording every word spoken on television and then letting you know what’s on in real time.
It’s like Twitter TV Guide.
But… Um… Why?
I have to be honest: my first reaction to this product was “Why?” What’s the point? It seems kind of… unnecessary. What could anyone want with a written version of what’s happening on TV?
The more I read about it, though, the more it sounds like this idea could be the thing that brings television more thoroughly into the digital world. With the loss of TV Guide and the proliferation of TV channels, viewers are faced with a thoroughly contemporary problem: we now have too many options and no efficient way to search them.
Although still in the trial phase, Boxfish currently offers a search engine feature and a real-time feed of what’s airing. On their landing page you can find a list of phrases that are currently trending which, when I just took a glance at it, contains an interesting mix of politician names, celebrities, and economic news.
SEO for television
Eventually the Boxfish team hopes to monetize their product by creating “SEO for television.” They aim to provide TV networks with the opportunity to bump their shows higher in user search results. They’re also want to offer an alert system for companies to let them know when they’re being talked about on TV.
It remains to be seen whether or not this product captures consumers’ imaginations, but it seems to fit the model of successful startup that we’ve seen time and time again: fits a niche, easy and accessible, and appeals to people by supplementing something they already like doing.
If you could get alerts on your phone about TV shows that you were specifically interested in, would you spend more time in front of the boob tube? I’m willing to bet that the answer is probably yes.