Google Adds TV Listings, But The Results Aren’t Ready For Prime Time

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:

Google

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:

walking dead - Google Search

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:

walking dead - Bing

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:

game of thrones - Google Search

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:

second sons - Google Search

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

If that seems too harsh, consider how TV.com, which now incorporates the Clicker.com TV search service, leaves Google in the dust with broadcast air dates for shows like The Walking Dead:

The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16_ Welcome to the Tombs - TV.com

TV.com also gives you options on where to view the show beyond broadcast TV:

The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16_ Welcome to the Tombs - TV.com-1

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.

Related Articles

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Knowledge Graph | Google: TV | Google: Web Search | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Durant Imboden

    I’d expect TV.com to do a better job than Google in providing TV listings, just as I’d expect the National Weather Service, Weather.com, or Accuweather to do a better job of providing in-depth weather forecasts.

    (Disclaimer: Like many people these days, I ignore my favorite shows’ TV listings and wait until i can watch a season at a time on Netflix.)

  • Ashis Hazra

    Latest listing news for all (TV listing)… Thanks !!

  • gcarre

    tv.com definitely handles that better I agree.
    I developed followshows.com where users get a nice looking calendar and notifications too (email, ics calendar or iOS).

  • http://www.michaelmerritt.org/ Michael Merritt

    The Google Now reminders also leave something to be desired. I’ve gotten reminders for a couple shows for days ahead of when they actually air.

  • http://www.sundarrawat.com/ Sundar Rawat

    So, they are continuously working for Knowledge Graph feature..hmmm. looks impressive as its completely for searchers and non profiting feature. Does it really?

  • digitalencore

    Yes its coming with the episodes. But can it be affect the search engine ranking?
    skype:encore.digital

  • Matt

    Good summary. Incidentally Google does show the knowledge graph for The Walking Dead but you have to enter a more specific search. Namely: The Walking Dead TV Show. See this link:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=the+walking+dead+tv+show&oq=the+walking+dead+tv+show&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j0l5.6536j0j9&sourceid=chrome&espvd=210&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8

    I guess Google thinks that the term “Walking Dead” on its own is known enough outside of the tv show not to merit showing the extra information. I don’t necessarily agree with that but it seems thats whats going on.

  • daveintheuk

    This is what you get from thin auto-generated content.

  • dicitz

    Thanks for article!
    I think next step from Goole will be price button in this listing per view the Episodes :)

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