RSS Feeds for T.V. Shows

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Watching T.V.Continuing with my theme of posts about television, today’s post has to do with T.V. show scheduling and is aimed directly at the networks themselves. With all the power the Internet has granted us, I can’t understand why the networks don’t publish RSS feeds of their programming. For me, this little annoyance was especially pointed during the mid-season break a couple of months ago. All of a sudden, the networks starting airing reruns of the shows we were watching instead of new episodes—if they ran the shows at all.

This is not only annoying for viewers, but is rather confusing. Is the season over? Has the show been canceled? When will new episodes be available again? If only there were some way for viewers to get regular updates about their favorite shows…

I realize that there is already a method in place for getting updates: watching T.V. will expose you show promos. But the number of viewers like me – people who watch T.V. online - is ever-increasing. We don’t see the weekly prime time promos, so we don’t know what episode is going to be on next week. Also, the networks can’t assume that people are going to sit idly by and watch reruns; I suspect that when someone sees a rerun of their show is on, they’re likely to change the channel.

Providing RSS feeds would be a simple method of distributing show schedules to even moderately savvy viewers, and there are many options for what to offer. For example: all upcoming episodes of a show, only new upcoming episodes of a show, or “the fire hose” - every upcoming episode of every show from the network. Implementing all of these different feeds would be inexpensive initially, and in the long run, the cost in time and money would be nearly non-existent. If free isn’t enough to convince the network bean counters, banner ads could be sold in the feeds, thereby not just paying for the feeds themselves, but actually making money for the network.

As it stands, none of the networks currently offer RSS feeds of any kind, and TV Guide and TitanTV don’t offer them either. The networks are notoriously slow at adopting new technology, so it will probably be a while before we can hope to see something like this. If anyone from the networks reads this, contact me and I’ll help get you set up!

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5 Comments

  1. Did you ever watch t.v. on t.v. and didn’t you work at Fox? Every year for as long as I can remember there have been mid-season breaks, they’re just longer than they used to be and affect the shows more now because so many are no longer episodic. The one thing I noticed about this year is that two weeks after the return of new episodes they had reruns on again. I really hate that. If you weren’t ready to return with more than two episodes, then why come back now? Also why does Fox hate its good shows? They never consistently show Bones anymore thanks to crapperiffic American Idol. I just realized my comment is becoming a rant so I’m going to stop now. My original point was networks have always stopped showing new episodes in the middle of the season and I think that’s the bigger problem.

  2. You said it yourself: this season has been a weird season.

    I guess that point I wanted to make (and obviously didn’t) is that the only method I have for knowing when a new episode of my favorite show is on the website is to actually check the website. But if the networks published an RSS feed, I would know when a new episode will be on T.V., and therefore know when a new one will be online.

    And you’re right, Fox does hate its good shows. Seriously, Bryan Fuller got a raw deal with Wonderfalls.

  3. Tom D.

    Hulu makes your entire post above mute. Go there, create an account, subscribe to a show and your user ID has a personalized feed that populates when new shows are available (day after air date I believe in most cases). Next check out Boxee.com or understudy at googles app development for integrating these feeds in Front Row (note: Boxee is a replacement for Front Row or the AppleTV.)

  4. You mean, “moot,” Tom? -)

    I suspected that someone would know about something that I didn’t and make a comment, but what ho! I am prepared to parry thy argument!

    1) Hulu doesn’t have every show from every network (for example, Big Bang Theory), but the network sites do (not that I watch BBT on CBS’s website, but that’s a different story).

    2) The networks are in a unique position to keep viewers informed, since they’re the initial distributors of the content. A new show? They could announce it. A change in the schedule? They’re the ones who’ll have made it. A synopsis of this week’s episode? Guess who writes those.

    3) It’s in the best interest of the networks to keep their viewers’ eyeballs on their sites and their partner sites.

    4) What I’m talking about is primarily for the networks to announce what will be on T.V. when, but it could easily extend to their websites as well.

  5. Tom D.

    Well if you bring up “Big Bang Theory, it used to me on hulu but it appears to have been yanked, I imagine for distribution rights issues, and several other CBS shows as well.

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