Transforming a classic internet brand.
In 2018, I joined Schibstedt to help their classic tv guide meet the future. The site stood in a position where its reason for being looked to be going out of fashion. People had been using the site to know what’s on tv for a long time. A core use case in the early 2000’s. By the late 2010’s though, not so much.
“Ripping the band aid”
The strategy in place was to redirect traffic from the linear tv-schedule, over to a new filter-based repository for content on streaming services. Internally, we referred to this as “ripping the band aid”, something that had to be done, but deep down we knew it would be painful.
I wanted to explore wether this strategy really was the best option we had available. I started by looking at what defines the tv.nu brand from an outside perspective. What most people believed tv.nu to be. Sans the romantic filter of a stakeholder’s eyes. I went and looked at all iterations from 1998 - all essentially a grid of listed air times. People who have found use for this design had stayed, people who don’t had dropped off. We had educated people through two decades that this is what tv.nu provides. I came away with three main points:
1. tv.nu is an objective source of truth. Objective as in we were trusted to provide facts. And not necessarily taste, opinions or recommendations.
2. tv.nu relates to time. The content has some kind of anchor to a point in time.
3. tv.nu is for TV. Like the name suggest, content has something to do with what’s on television, not necessarily what’s played in cinemas or what’s on Netflix.
Given that, what most people think about the brand was something like an “objective timetable for tv”.
Next, I looked at what was happening on the market. Since the TV was introduced in the 50s, up until about 2010, virtually all content was linearly broadcasted on a set timetable. And, a TV-guide was necessary since there were no guidance on the tv itself, except for text-tv and some tv-boxes. Both of those circumstances drove product market fit for tv.nu, and any change to either one affects its reason for being.
“Air-times are becoming availability times”
In short, what has been happening on the market since then is that air-times are becoming availability times. There’s a subtle difference. On streaming services, you’re free to watch most things whenever you like, but any new content will still become available at some point in time. The difference means going from simply filtering what’s already there, to showing when the new shows become available, or when new seasons premier. That’s huge for the product design of a brand like tv.nu. A brand that is in a position to leverage an already strong brand position as a timetable for TV.
Back to the product strategy. What if instead of killing off what’s working, we would instead refresh our timetable with this slightly new concept? It would look and feel much the same, but the new streaming content would slot right in with the traditional linear content. Looking at it that way, there is no band aid to pull. There’s only a way to make the existing core better.
So what now opened up for us was new opportunities to tackle problems people were having in the modern world. Things like the fragmentation of multiple streaming services, and when and where their favourite show would become available. And then how to conveniently navigate to them.
I think we came up with some darn good ideas in the end. We scrapped the existing plan of removing the tv-schedule and replacing it with subjective movie recommendations. Instead, we lifted the tv-schedule in to the modern world, where traditional content worked hand-in-hand with modern type of content.