This is it. The heart of
Our first campaign is on
Series Links: They are a great feature, if only all channels and
programmes used them! Check out a previous Sky+ Big Issue section as this
covers Series Links in some depth.
Campaign Centre Update: 11th July 2003Success! After a long wait Five have finally introduced Series Links. Most of their programmes now seem to have it, and whilst this will be of benefit to all Sky Digital viewers, it will be especially welcomed by Sky+ users.
Campaign Centre Update: 12th June 2003Some things never seem to change in the world of Sky+, and the situation with Five (formerly Channel 5) is one of those things. Plusworld has written the following letter to Five and below is the response from Five spokesperson Paul Leather, who is Head Of Press.
Response to Plusworld from Mr Leather at Five:
Apologies for not replying sooner but I've been looking into this with our engineering department.
Apparently to have Sky Series Link enabled we will need to invest further in our scheduling system.
It may not seem much to "set a flag" for series link but it does have other implications in the scheduling systems.
Whilst looking at this project we are also actively pursuing other PVR options (such as proposals by TV-Anytime).
Five is still involved in all these discussions and assessing upgrades to its systems to enable systems such as "series link" to be activated.
I hope that's helpful.
Plusworld letter to Mr Leather at Five:
Dear Mr Leather,
Firstly the good news:
Please pass on my Congratulations to Five on the removal of onscreen logos to improve the viewing pleasure of your customers. Many thanks.
Now onto the bad news:
Five is the only network channel not to use Sky Series Links.
For the 7 million Sky households this is irritating.
For the 79,000 Sky+ households (increasing to 5 million by 2007 (projected)), the absence of Sky Series Links is critical to the decision not to watch Five.
Why is this? Because viewers who use Sky+ in the main watch 90% of their TV as recorded programmes from the hard drive of the recorder.
The Series Link which is set once by the user resulting in Sky+ then recording every episode of that series for the user is the main benefit of having Sky+.
It is hugely disappointing that a major player such a Five is letting down it's customers in this way.
I can give you a personal example, in that I currently watch very little of Five's output, not because I don't want to, but because you make the programmes so inaccessible due to a lack of supported series links.
If the service was available I would personally use a Series Link for: The Terry & Gabby Show, Home & Away, & Family Affairs. I appreciate that's only 3 programmes, but look how many times I would be recording and watching Five's shows every day of every week!
In light of these observations please can you advise me when Sky Series Links are to become available on your channel?
I would be happy to meet you in person to discuss the issues if you feel that would help.
Campaign Centre Update: 9th February 2003
Series Links are getting better, but they are far away from being either reliable or globally available.
Try series linking Home & Away, Family Affairs or The Wright Stuff, daily on Channel 5.
Try series linking top arts show The South Bank Show on ITV1
Or what about the only serious Astronomy show on TV? The Sky at Night on BBC1?
You guessed it, no can do, series links are completely alien to Channel 5. The South Bank show is on at different times but not every week, so again no. And poor old Patrick Moore no sign of life with Series Links for his monthly extra terrestrial show. In fact, whether a show you want to be automatically recorded again has series links is completely at the mercies of broadcasters and there's nothing that you and I can do to change this.
Even manual timer recording is hopeless because I have no idea what day and what time either the South Bank Show or The Sky at Night will next be shown. I could record manual timer recordings for Channel 5, but why on earth should I have to? Channel 5 is a major terrestrial and non-terrestrial channel. It is one of the big 5, and currently the only major networked channel that has decided they don't give two hoots about Sky+ users and viewers. Well, Channel 5 you can keep your programmes thank you very much until you wake up to the commercial realities of multi-channel homes. But even with ITV1 and the BBC Series Links are hit and miss.
Series links should always be available on all shows. Think of it as this: I want to subscribe to a particular show, I want to add it to my Favourites, if you like to think of Internet comparisons, how would you feel if Internet Explorer browser popped up a dialogue box with the statement "Sorry you have chosen a site that does not support Favourites".
If Sky cannot take responsibility and dramatically improve Series Links then there is only one thing for it: Develop new tools for users to automatically record all of their favourite programmes.
My suggestion would be "Programme Title match" - a new feature for any programme that would trap the EPG programme name and record ALL episodes of that show, further options would ask, on this channel only or on all channels? Ok this would record repeats and would be a rather blunt tool, but it would be powerful, the most powerful tool in the Sky+ Personal Planner arsenal. Come on Sky+ boffins we have a hard disk PVR system here, give us more power to meet our viewing needs.
There is nothing more frustrating than discovering that you missed one of your favourite programmes yesterday because Sky+ could not know or remember that you wanted it recorded.
Series Links are flawed in their design and take-up.
Let's not continue pretending we can "fix" series links.
We need new power in our hands to enjoy the full benefits that Sky+ has to offer.