Hurray! Google has added TV episode listings to its search results, the company announced today. What’s not to like? Perhaps that they don’t work as well as they could and are disappointing compared to what Google’s TV listings are like within Google TV. You remember Google TV, right?
Google Search: Now With TV Episodes
Google shared the TV listing news on Google+ today, saying:
Now when searching for your favorite TV shows, you can get more information about specific episodes. For example, say that you’re wondering when the next season of The Walking Dead starts. Try searching for [the walking dead tv show] and you’ll see all episodes listed along with their air dates….
Don’t have time to re-watch that episode but still want a refresher? Click on the episode title and you’ll see relevant results.
Do I Need To Add “TV Show” To My Search?
In practice, I don’t know that most people are searching for TV show information by using the name of the show and adding the words “TV show” next to it, as Google uses for its example. Indeed, typing “Walking Dead” into Google doesn’t bring up “walking dead tv show” as a suggestion, which it would if many people searched that way:
The most popular way to search is just the show title itself, and anyone searching for just “walking dead” won’t get the fancy new listings:
Heck, Google doesn’t even do an expanded “Knowledge Graph” box on the right side of the screen, in contrast to competitor Bing, which beats it with its Bing Snapshot:
Where To Find Listings, When They Do Appear
Things were better when I searched for other TV shows just by their names, such as “Breaking Bad,” “Game Of Thrones” and “Modern Family.” In these cases, I did get the expanded Knowledge Graph box, along with the new listings:
Drilling Into Listings Doesn’t Deliver Rich Answers
Seeing the episode listings is a nice addition, but you’re forced to scroll through them in a tiny box. Worse, Google promises that if you want more information on a particular episode, you just click on it, and you’ll get it. So let’s try that for the “Second Sons” episode of Game Of Thrones:
A few pages from fan wikis, along with an IMDB listing, isn’t exactly the deep information I expected from the world’s most popular search engine. Where’s HBO, by the way? And where do I watch these? Google, under constant attack by Hollywood over piracy, adds a TV listing feature without some type of promotion or prominent placement where episodes can be legitimately viewed?
How TV.com Beats Google
TV.com also gives you options on where to view the show beyond broadcast TV:
On the upside, Google doesn’t have to worry that other TV search services are going to start screaming about unfair competition, given that the listings that Google provides are so sparse and disappointing. But then again, Google could do better — and arguably should do — better for its searchers.
Google’s Better TV Search Remains Stuck On Google TV
Meanwhile, for the people who do remember Google TV – and the few who still have it — it provides a taste of what Google could have brought to its regular search listings years ago. Consider this for Walking Dead:
Google has had great TV search capabilities as part of Google TV since that launched in three years ago, in October 2010. It’s a pity that’s never made it to Google’s actual web search engine.
And yes, there’s Chromecast as the successor to Google TV. Chromecast is a wonderful device. I love it. But it has no search capabilities as part of it — and search is supposed to be the core expertise of all that Google does.
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