In the first part of this blog, we explored the role and benefits of universal search in addressing the current challenges of content discovery across multiple devices. In this second and final part, we will look at some of the limitations associated with universal search, and how they can be resolved.

Looking back at the positives, universal search will ideally present relevant TV content to the user with the option to be incredibly specific. For example; “I’m in the mood for a kids’ comedy about New York, and I’d like to watch it on my tablet.” A platform that has the right data and intelligence behind it will be able to display movies effectively as clean search results that fit into these specialized categories.

There is a lot that we can do with unified content already. For example, a consumer can search for a program and instantly obtain where that program can be found across every platform be that live or on demand. Additionally, potential streaming locations with availability and pricing, can also be shown. And with a simple click-through, the content is then easily accessible.

However, there are still some limitations. For example, the use of different data formats for output, and poor metadata quality from content providers. These factors may prompt reluctance from content providers who are considering getting involved, as they are put off by unpleasant visualizations of metadata, and losing control of data moving through various systems. Although such factors represent a threat to content providers, such issues are expected to be resolved with the evolution of broadcasting technology.

Metadata is one of the main ways that broadcasters can ensure they are using universal search to its full potential. The use of clean and consistent metadata allows data-driven services to properly distinguish and differentiate TV content – information such as seasons, series & episodes – so that if a viewer misses a show on linear TV, it can be easily found elsewhere, and they can be correctly notified.

Solid, robust metadata is key when it comes to bringing universal search to life. Without proper titles, names and a persistent ID system, confusion can occur across the queried services. For example, if someone searches for “The Rock”, the actor Dwayne Johnson and the 1996 action thriller starring Sean Connery should not get mixed up in the search results.

Furthermore, accurate imagery and other forms of rich media (trailers, etc.) assists in the discoverability of programming. This should help the consumer decide what to watch, with an interactive experience.

Through a combination of clever technology and cooperation with platforms and content providers, universal search will truly be a part of TV’s future. We are certainly starting to head in the right direction already but clearly there is still much work to be done.

Olcay Buyan, Technical Product Management, Content Discovery