Envisioning the Future of Online Schedules

gby_scheds.jpgLast week we had a rare opportunity to bring the members of the PBS Interactive Station Advisory Council, and some additional station TV Schedule gurus in to our offices to do some brainstorming around our road-map for improvements and updates to our online TV Schedule service.  

Some key themes quickly emerged from the discussion:

DATA - This is a big, hairy, problem.  PBS relies on data from TV Guide to populate our schedules online.  Most of the time, the process is OK.  However, those stations that don't use our online schedules typically cite the fact they don't have direct control over the data as a primary reason, and if there's a last minute update or correction, it can be painful waiting for the data to wind it's way to our products.  Having more direct access to update or correct schedule info is greatly desired.

Be More Social - There needs to be better ways to share programs, and let family and friends know what you're watching, and when.  Many station reps were eager to see the ability to share recommended programs on Twitter and Facebook as well as simply adding the ability to email a friend with a program schedule recommendation.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
- Many are eager to see better ways to access schedule information from mobile devices.  Ideas include a version of the schedule specifically designed for mobile browsers, local schedule iPhone apps, and text reminders.

Video - wouldn't it be great if you could click on a program name and immediately access a promo or trailer to get a better sense of what the program is about?  Yeah.  We think so too.

Smarter Search - The current search only returns results from program titles and descriptions.  Search should be able to do things like offering alternate results for common typos and misspellings.

We're still working on synthesizing all the feedback.  The goal is to start piecing together a plan for what can be done in the short and long term to improve this vital service.  Once we have a draft roadmap in place, we'll be sharing it with the system and revisiting it on a regular basis to make sure we continually focus on the most needed updates and improvements.

If you didn't get to participate in the meeting, you can have a brief taste now.  In the comments, please share the first 2-3 things that come to mind in each of these categories:

  • Things you like about the existing TV Schedule products
  • Things missing from the existing TV Schedule products
  • Things you don't like about the existing TV Schedule products

And finally, is there anything else you want us to know?  Something you wish you could do with TV Schedules and currently can't?  Let us know.  We'll be reporting back soon.


  1. Posted March 1, 2010 at 1:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What about defining a XML (or otherwise) data container format (schema) that stations 'massage' local data into that can feed the PBS schedule widget for stations?

  2. Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Anyone else having issues with the day or week tab on the schedule pages?

    Here are parts of an email string from a viewer:

    The problem continues.
    SDPB web page at this address;
    comes up in the [Now] tab. This works (in two hour increments). I can select the day, the hour, Next and Previous - all work.

    BUT when I click on the [Day] or [Week] tab, the [Loading, please wait] box with the moving horizontal barber pole pops up - then there is no other activity. One day I let this run for four hours - nothing but [Loading, please wait] !

    I have checked this every day this week.

    I have a wireless broadband internet connection with Redwoodwireless.

    I get the same results on my Gateway Windows 7 computer with Internet Explorer 8 - and my HP Windows XP computer with Internet Explorer 7.

    I am located in Sioux Falls, SD and the [Day] and [Week] tabs used to work.

    Thank you for your continued involvement,

    Additional information: During a visit at my brothers, I asked him to check SDPB's TV schedule page. When he clicked on the [Day] or [Week] tab, the [Loading, please wait] box with the moving horizontal barber pole pops up - then there is no other activity.

    He has a Windows XP computer with dial-up internet connection with Netzero. ( I have broadband with Redwoodwireless ).

    So, the problem is NOT just with my computer.

    The problem is NOT just with my internet connection.

    We are both in Sioux Falls, SD.

    I hope they get this fixed soon.

    Any ideas I can pass along?



  3. Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Kent,

    I'm getting the same erroe on your schedules in IE, but not Firefox. I checked a few other stations using our module and do not experiece the same problem on other sites.

    I've asked out tech team to take a look to see if they can identify what's going on. I'll update you when I know more.

    If anyone else is having similar problems, let us know!

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