AMA: The UX of Streaming

“This is maybe a hot take, but I don’t think any TV UI [user interface] has nailed it yet.”


I think there are a lot of variables in the user experience of TV. If you think about it, everyone has a different box or TV, and there are different input methods for each.


So, if you have an Apple TV like I do, the remote has a little trackpad on it at the top. I flick, swipe, and press to get where I need to go. Or there is voice input. Other TV remotes have just up, down, left, right, select. So it’s click, click, click. You get the idea.


Facing the giant ocean of rectangles


It’s a challenge because as you’re designing for that, you have to consider all of those variables and different ways that people are going to interact with it. Unfortunately, I think because of that, all TV UI has kind of converged to this point where we’re just going to throw up a giant ocean of squares or rectangles on your screen and you’re just going to be presented with a tidal wave of content.


There are “for you” sections and things like that, but generally speaking, I [the user] just get faced with this big wall of content and then I get to be the janitor and attempt to go through the experience to try and find what I want. And very often I just want to watch The Office or something and I have to try and find my way there. 


Navigating a fragmented system


And all the networks want to keep everything proprietary to them. So, there’s not even a good solution. Apple TV has the TV app where they try and pull everything together. But then you have Netflix and others who don’t quite want to play that game, and so they don’t integrate with it.


It’s just very fragmented as a whole. It’s all just a bunch of squares, and I think no one has quite fully cracked it and figured out a really enjoyable experience for consuming content on TV yet.


At least not in the same way that channel surfing was where you just hit a button and find interesting things as you’re flipping through stations. I’m not even saying that was great, but still, it’s not there yet.


Eric Trimble