We’re all familiar with the ghastly grid of TV listings, that impenetrable ocean of small rectangles we know and love from the TV Guide now duplicated in a zillion lookalike websites. I had the pleasure today of seeing a preview of Throng’s new-look TV listings, which will be released to the general public on Monday. Throng is a New Zealand-based TV community web site.
Regan and Rachel, the site’s founders and designers, asked themselves how well the traditional grid of shows meets the viewer’s needs. The grid is either used as a reference (because it contains all the shows on at any time, you can hunt to find interesting things and program them into your TiVO) or as a browsable answer to the quick question “what’s on now?” It’s questionable how useful the grids are as references, but they do nothing to help you find something you might like to watch. Hence Throng’s new layout (click to popup a readable version):
At first I was shocked by how minimal it is. “Where did all the stuff go?!” But what they’ve done is thin out the data and turn it into information by only showing you the interesting stuff. The size of a show’s name is how many Throng users like the show, and the first items on the list are the shows that you have said you like (“The Daily Show”, and “The Kumars at No. 42” on my screen-shot) . In the options you can select the channels you want to see here. Pilots are listed in purple, and there’s an option to show pilots from channels that wouldn’t normally be visible here so you’ll never miss a good show’s first episode.
It’s designed for glancing, for immediate “yes” or “no” answers to the question “should I be watching TV now or is there something better I should be doing with my time?” It’s designed for people without PVRs, obviously, but that’s a surprisingly large amount of the world’s population. They’re not going after the US market, but instead are serving NZ, Australia, UK, and Canada.
I think they’ve done well. The layout seems like it would suit the once-a-day visitors to a web site. I could easily see this as part of someone’s morning computer routine, right beside scanning the news and checking auctions. I’m curious to see what user response will be, and whether we see others coming up with alternative views of the Big Grid.