A bit of common sense will benefit Virgin Media customers from this week.
Virgin is reorganising its Electronic Programme Guide and is adopting one of Sky’s best ideas.
A dedicated section is being created for timeshift (i.e., plus one) channels.
This means these channels will be much easier to find as there will always be a clear link between the number of the main service and its timeshift sibling. For instance, ITV 1 + 1 will be on 303 and Channel 4 + 1 will be on 304.
In turn, this frees up slots to promote several channels up the list.
A few years ago, Sky did something similar. It cleared up the main section of its EPG by creating dedicated sections for timeshift channels and legacy SD services.
It’s all about simplicity and making navigation as easy as possible for viewers.
So Is it time to clear up the Freeview EPG? It, frankly, is a mess.
This is all the more ironic as one of Freeview’s main selling points is that it is the simple option for those who may find technology confusing.
The main section of the Freeview EPG is a ragbag.
Shopping channels and plus one channels sit in random locations.
The lower part of the guide is messed up by part-time “placeholder” channels with very limited hours – often in the middle of the night.
There is the issue of how HD channels are placed – though to be fair Freeview has been trying to sort this out through technology.
And lastly there’s even a little confusion over the numbers of some BBC services in Scotland.
So here are my thoughts on a much-needed tidy-up.
- Create a dedicated timeshift section where the numbers are related to the main service’s EPG position.
- Clear out placeholder services such as ITV 4 + 1. Any channel on the main EPG should be on the air for a realistic minimum number of hours during the daytime or evening.
- Create a separate section for shopping channels.
All of this is easier said than done naturally.
A shopping section might seem sensible and has been suggested before. But understandably QVC would no doubt be concerned about losing a relatively prominent slot.
Occasionally placeholder channels come good too. I would not be surprised if ITV 3 + 1 becomes a full-time service when CITV closes as a linear channel soon.
Still the basic need for a bit of linearity and logic is clear.
I am sure the overall number of channels will continue to drop over the next few years.
But that sort of thinning out will not make the others easier to find. A better designed EPG would.
PICTURED: TV/remote control image. COPYRIGHT: unknown.