Saturday, December 02, 2006

What he said: (about Yahoo's "improved" television listings)

--> Some workarounds at the end of this post

Excerpts from post at Jason Blogs:
For a long time I have used Yahoo TV to get my television schedule information. I was able to easily find out what was playing, in a clean and easy-to-read format. There weren’t any unnecessary bells and whistles, until now. Apparently Yahoo TV has been redesigned, and according to the logo it is now in beta. The new site focuses more on television news and video clips from upcoming shows, trying to remake itself into an entertainment portal complete with the over-the-top Flash and AJAX we would expect

Why does every well crafted and reliable site need to be reinvented? The site now uses Javascript everywhere to load sections of the schedule as you scroll the page. The page loads 10 channels at a time, causing a severe delay as each new section is loaded as you go down the page. This makes the page longer and filled with more ads, as there is an ad after each section. As each section of stations loads there is a significant stopage where you can’t even scroll the page and your browser becomes unresponsive as the information is loaded. This happened in both Firefox and Internet Explorer, and it is completely unacceptable.

With this new design also comes lots of light blues reminiscent of every “Web 2.0? site out there. Good job Yahoo, way to be original.

... the original provided more information in less space, and it was extremely fast.

My advice to Yahoo: bring back the grid. Until then I will be using AOL Television’s TV Listings ...
And the post had this comment appended:
Man, is the new format ever freaking awful! I used to count on the yahoo tv listing too. I have a T1 and it still frustrating to wait for the Javascript to load. You could click on a station and see the entire day’s (or beyond) listing… that feature is gone. I hope Google gets up and running as a full portal soon, I’m complete ready to leave Yahoo now.
And Jason Blogs is not alone. From Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed:
Yahoo TV Goes 2.0. Argh.
I use Yahoo's TV listings on a fairly regular basis to see what's on any particular night, and then I usually get distracted and don't get around to watching it. The nice thing about Yahoo's TV listings has been that they were comprehensive, fast, and appropriately detailed. It just worked.

Well, Yahoo in its wisdom has launched a 2.0-ified version of its TV listings tonight, complete with an Ajax-y interface, cool blue colors, social rating of programs, etc. That's all swell, and frankly I wouldn't care one way or the other (other than they broke my URL for full listings), but the darn thing is sooooo much slower than the old listings. Tables have to get populated, drop-downs have to ... drop, and sliders have to slide while data creakily loads.

It's really irritating ...
By contrast, here is the "thinking" that takes place with admirers of the new Yahoo look (MIT Convergence Culture Consortium): (excerpts, emp add)
[The new look incloudes] an embedded video player for Yahoo! TV that allows viewers to navigate around the page while the video is playing on the page, rather than having to be static in searching for content while the video is playing. The product also includes links to the most popular show on Yahoo! at any particular moment ...

... the site simply looks good. As in gooooood. Of course, I must admit the old site in comparison looks very old school, very 1999, very boxy. The redesigned look in contrast is smooth, current, topical.

[There are] delightful surprises--the video doesn't just start on its own, for instance--and disappointments, such as the lag time in trying to use the personalized grid on the site.
Who cares about a lag time when getting information about the television schedule? Instead, some video will start only on your command while you are informed about whatever the majority of people are viewing right now, in a glorious non "boxy" way. Talk about treating people like cattle. Whereever the herd is headed, Yahoo will pull you along as well. Why bother thinking at all? Why bother finding out what the television listings are? Just shut up and do what everybody else is doing. That's the spirit.

To round out this post, here are some other unhappy users of the new Yahoo television listings page:
  • Yahoo! TV: Ajax’d up Beta

  • yahoo tv screws up. badly.
    the performance in Firefox is absolutely terrible. In the time it’s taken to write this post, I still haven’t gotten the new page to load.

    I rarely call a site redesign absolute shit, but I think this might qualify. This is absolute shit. Did they not test it? What the hell were their QA people thinking?

  • Yahoo! TV: Suicide by Web 2.0
    [Discussing the Procrustean aspect of the interface:] Yahoo decided exactly what I should get and exactly the way they want to deliver it: with extra advertising and unwieldy Web 2.0 crap.

  • It's "AJAX Gone Wild" at Yahoo! TV!
    Holy moley! If ever there was a case for over-AJAXing an application, Yahoo! has shown the way. Their new beta TV area relies heavily on AJAX to create an inferior and awkward interface. How bad? It's [really] bad.

    It would seem that Yahoo! had decided to abruptly ditch its old (but very functional and useful) TV listing area in favor of a new beta TV area. Clearly, AJAX was the focus of this revision and not usability. Maybe I'm going crazy, but wasn't the point of AJAX to provide a better experience for the user?

    [Followed by a list of 10 problems with the new release.]

  • Yahoo The Hell Thought This Was A Good Idea
    Can somebody somewhere please explain what the powers that be over at Yahoo were thinking when they redesigned their TV listings?

    It looks to me like Yahoo went and released their version of “New Coke.”

Finally, here is a Yahoo page that has comments by the Yahoo development team and users (some like the new look, most do not).

WANT MORE? Apparently the new Yahoo TV page is the result of hewing to what's called "Web 2.0 online services", for which there are a number of critics. See this and this for skeptical views by IT professionals.

WORKAROUND: This probably only works if you have a Yahoo account, and it shows only the current (3 hr) listings, though with arrows to go forward and back (but not to specific days). The link is:

Also, this place seems to be a popular altermative: (start there and then customize)

ADDENDUM: The Yahoo TV interface has a sliding bar that allows the user to select the time period of interest (with 3-hour granularity?). But it appears that the time period that is being referred to is Eastern Standard Time, even if you are requesting information about Los Angeles area broadcasts (or maybe it's some other error, not tied to time zones - who knows?). Here is a screenshot where the user shown what's on between 9:00 PM and 12:00 PM, but look at the the entry in the upper left. It shows the (local Los Angeles) CBS 2 News at 6:00.

And the channels are ordered thustly (over-the-air antenna, with display of only user-requested channels):
[1st tier]
2, 4, (9 is missing) 11, 13, 18, 22, 28, 30, 34, 40
[2nd tier]
5, 7, 50, 56, 58.
It's not clear why the channels are ordered this way (it's not alphabetical by call letters, or KABC channel 7 would be first).

What we are talking about here are basic issues of data reliability, not some arcane enhanced feature. How this was missed during the testing phase is hard to understand.


I've used Zap2it for several years now, ever since Yahoo switched off their Canadian listings. It's fine.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/02/2006 11:09 AM  

Or you could just not watch TV. I haven't had one sine 1989. Frees up all kinds of time in your life.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/02/2006 7:34 PM  

I've always used the Yahoo TV listing to record to my TIVO. Now, its almost impossible to do this.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/04/2006 1:48 PM  

I recently bought Elgato's EyeTV and they use the TitanTV listing service, so I switched to that.

Guess what I discovered? TitanTV is far superior in the accuracy of their listings and their channel lineups actually match my basic cable service lineups, which is something neither Yahoo or even the LA Times could accomplish.

And best of all, TitanTV integrates seamlessly with Elgato's PVR software.

Bye bye, Yahoo TV.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/07/2006 11:48 AM  

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