I had this idea and considered creating it as a service, but I’ve got my own web startup going and don’t need the distraction. Several sites, such as Zap2it, TV Guide, and TitanTV (beta) already have the infrastructure (as well as the TV listings I’d have to license) so hopefully this won’t be too hard for one of them to implement.

I’m looking for a clone of the Tivo Wishlist. The difference is that instead of recording, you get email alerts. I imagine if you have a DVR/PVR that is internet programmable, the service could take advantage of that, but I’ve got my cable company’s DVR (Scientific Atlanta) like most people and must program it with the remote. So this provides a wishlist feature for everyone without a Tivo, which I think is compelling.

The search features of current TV listings sites are missing critical fields for a wishlist to work (not to mention the email reminder part). Filtering (both inclusive and exclusive) by genre and channel are required.

Here are a couple strong (IMHO) use cases:

  • You want to be notified if anyone on a list of people is scheduled to be on a talk show. You enter description:”Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow” and genre: talk and every time any of them appear on a talk show you’re notified. If Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is played on HBO, nothing happens.
  • You’re planning a vacation and you want to record travel shows about various places. You enter keywords:”Prague,Tokyo,Paris” and interest:travel (or perhaps channels:travel,discovery,tlc,pbs) and you get notified for any travel shows relevant to you.

Of course, the above would be done via a nice GUI/query builder.

When you get your email, there would be links to hide/exclude shows in the future, which is useful for anything that gets rerun frequently (especially basic cable shows).

You can monetize this through targeted ads, since the user is telling you what he/she wants.

Another service would be to send a post-mortem email that includes links to the shows you want on Hulu, YouTube, the network’s website, etc. after they’ve been uploaded.  At that point you’re much closer to a real Tivo service and could possibly charge for it. Possibly.

I should point out that Tivo’s own advanced search is great and includes categories (and subs) and is open to the public.

And if you are only interested in the talk show part, you can set a calendar reminder to check the talk show lineups page once a week. However, I’d much rather have something automated that allows me to set it and forget it.  I could probably whip up a script to parse that page and run it as a service/cron job to notify me when there’s a match, but still, it would only work for talk shows. And parsing poorly formed HTML is a pain.

No, the easiest solution is to convince someone else to implement it for me 🙂

Update: If you want to see Yahoo TV implement this, upvote it here.