Sandra Buczek


The death of the EPG Grid on the TV

Who does not know the typical display of linear TV program on TV sets - the EPG Grid. It is the standard view on every TV set, set-top box, and game console with TV integration. The EPG is intended to give an overview of which programs are broadcast now and afterwards on the different channels. But does it really serve this purpose - is the grid really the best way to access linear TV programs on the TV? To find out, we collected and analyzed the user requirements for the display of TV and video content.

From the collected requirements, four superordinate clusters of needs for information acquisition essentially result. These in turn can be translated into the four following view types.

My Page: Content Discovery - browsing through personally relevant broadcasts


The overall view that the grid is supposed to provide is becoming less and less important on the TV set, which is very limited in its interaction. Instead, the trend is moving further in the direction of personalized content. Dynamic recommendations based on one's own viewing behavior or that of friends have a strong personal relevance. On the My Page, which can also be used as an entry point to the entire offering, the focus is therefore on content discovery within the content relevant for me (or for the profile), i.e. my recommendations. For example, if there is a new episode of my favorite series, an interesting live event or movies from my wishlist that are now available on TV or vod platforms, they appear centrally on the My Page. This view is also enriched by recommendations and usage data from friends who I know share my taste in movies and TV. As a gimmick you can use your own statistics such as the number of hours of TV consumption or the genre consumed.

Zapper: Look up - which program is running at a certain time on a certain channel


The zapper or Mini-EPG offers in direct TV context an overview of the currently running and the following program on one channel. It is located above the Live TV, so the user does not have to leave the context and can quickly browse and switch between the channels. Enhanced by a clear display of the time component, i.e. how long is the program and how much have I already missed, as well as a live preview of the program on other channels, the zapper of the future can offer a significant added value compared to its classic counterpart and fulfill some of the requirements currently covered by the EPG Grid.

Detail page: Specific information and functions for a particular shipment


A detail page is used to provide all the information the user needs to be convinced of a content for retrieval. It usually offers information and metadata such as genre, year, country of production, actors involved, director, duration and of course the classic DeepL description. A detail page can offer so much more to support the joy of use of the user. For example, one can save the user from having to read long DeepL descriptions when there are trailers and trustworthy user reviews. In addition, there are a lot of possibilities to present a content in an interesting way for the user. So why not enrich the site with fun facts and production costs or number of entries. Also photos (with a link) of the acting actors represent a strong added value for the user. Ultimately, it is also interesting to see whether and how often you have already seen a content. This is especially important for series, so that it can be quickly understood which episode you are currently watching. At this point a link to the next episode is also essential. Considering the multitude of requirements, the challenge for the UI is to present the information in an appealing way so that the page is not too full and the user is not overwhelmed by the abundance of elements.

Search: Targeted search for specific shipments


A simple and well-functioning search for quickly finding specific content is becoming increasingly important, especially in an interface with a stronger focus on pre-selecting content via recommendations. At the moment it is difficult to find a really good search on the products available on the German market. But what does "good" mean? For one thing, the results should be traceably related to the search term. Sounds self-evident, but practice teaches us: it is apparently not that easy. In addition, a search must be high-performance and comprehensive, i.e. it must not only provide me with the results from the TV program, but from the entire content offering, including hits from e.g. media libraries and apps. It should not only be possible to search by title, but also by keywords, genre, actors, channels or times. Important - the search should support various inputs like voice control and input via the second screen.

The views derived from the requirements show that nowadays access to linear program data does not have to be done via an EPG. Under the premise of accurate and mature recommendations as well as a well-functioning search, other representations are available on the TV screen that can meet the needs of the user in a much more targeted way when receiving information. In addition, a second screen app can provide a better overview of the TV program than is possible on the TV screen by means of simplified and faster interaction via touch. From our point of view, this means the death of the classic EPG grid on the TV set.

Sandra Buczek

UX Consultant & Usability Engineer


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