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The CBSN watching experience was completely different to my NPR listening experience. It was terrible. I had a hard time focusing on it for even a half hour. 24/7 video stream, sidebar to select interesting content, cool ideas CBS. However, the variety of content and the visual appeal of the website will need to be much better to capture an audience.
First of what I did not like was that although it is 24/7 news stream, it doesn’t always provide you new content, at least not for me. The sidebar that displays the videos playlist just rotates the news stories. This is what I saw on my page:
The story from the top of the bar just goes back down as the “coming up” video. The thing is, the first news story that I watched when I opened CBSN was exactly the “Russia Missile Fail” video. This makes me think that CBS just lacks content. Also, out of the total of only 15 news videos, I was only sort of interested in 2, the “Hypnotism Deaths” and “I’m Too High” because they are some what novel compared to the other political and military related news.
A feature that I found ridiculously contradictory to the “24/7 live stream” was this on the screen in the middle of the news stream:
Is it me or does CBS think that it is okay to make their audience wait? For me just means that I will close the site and go do something else and never come back. I don’t want to wait, what will that be different compared to watching TV? Advertising break? I was very thrown off by this and decided to stop watching there and then.
One more thing that I didn’t like was I had no ability to choose what I want to watch at all. I can’t skip the stories I don’t want to watch, nor can I select the categories of stories that I want to listen to. I think CBSN is not catching up fast enough to our generation. We want what we want whenever we want it.
Anyways, after giving up yesterday, I decided to try again, just to be fair that I didn’t just catch CBSN on a bad day. Once again, I see the same issue. Although there are more than 15 videos this time, well, from the first scroll, there are only 13 distinct stories. 12 of the 13 stories appears twice on the playlist and 1 story appears 3 times, making a total of 27 sidebar options.
On the positive side, the variety of content did increase and attracted me a little better. The list of stories that I picked out to watch were:
- Best In (First) Class
- Nobel Peace Prize
- $300M Ghost Airport
- Why So Bitter? – Turns out psychopaths loves bitter and other weird tasting things
The ones that I thought could be interesting but didn’t finish watching were:
- Texas Shooting
- Fleet week
- Shadow of death
So 7 out of 13 distinct stories, I think this is better than 2/15.
However, a general trend I see in the CBS news selection is that, the stories are often negative or serious or about crimes. From the 13 stories that I can choose from, there was only, “Nobel Peace Prize”, “Best In (First) Class” and “Why So Bitter” that were not crime, military, war, or politics related.
The “Nobel Peace Price” news was also something I have listened to earlier in the day on NPR One.
Compared to NPR
This is what I think of NPR One:
- Simple platform
- Mobility and portability
- Novel news – not only world affairs but findings, research, health related and also podcasts
- Mindless and effortless listening
- No repeated stories, unless you follow a particular podcast
- Casual tone
- Local news comes up through Local radio – in this case Michigan Radio
This is what I think of CBSN:
- Immobile – must watch on computer, restricting time and location to use it.
- Non customizable – cannot skip nor indicate “interest”
- Mostly serious stories
- Effort required to watch – can’t pause very quickly if I’m purely listening
- All stories in the sidebar repeated at least twice
- Very few local news as the audience cannot indicate location
Given that I tried to watch CBSN two days in a row, I would not watch it again and I definitely would not recommend any other person watching it. Not only watching it didn’t give me any more interesting news that I wouldn’t read or listen elsewhere, such as NPR One but it was almost upsetting to hear about all the gunshots, war and what psychopaths like to eat.
I listened to NPR the whole weekend, and I think it can be developed into a habit.
I enjoyed having something to listen to mindlessly that’s not music when walking to class, browsing the internet, emailing, writing or just chatting with friends. Although it did require a bit more focus than just listening to music to be actually absorbing the material. The interface was like that of the music player that gave me the flexibility to change the story or pause just on the lock screen. I like that between the news stream, there are little audio tracks that tell you how to personalize news, explaining where to find the “interesting” button, how to skip stories and swipe left to find out what’s next.
NPR One started the personalization with gaining access to my geographic location and fed me news stories from Michigan Radio. I then took note of the different categories of stories that came through my NPR One. My series of audio news tracks included the current Michigan news, under the category, “Michigan Radio” about events happening in Michigan, not topic specific. “Around the nation” was the category of news that featured current news stories of the U.S, similar to “Michigan Radio” it was not topic specific. The more topic specific categories of news that then came through my headphones were “health news”, “the salt”, “research news”, “technology” “politics”. I tapped the “interesting” button on “the salt” and “research news” as “the salt” features stories involving food and “research news” told me a lot about the new discoveries from the various type of scientists. Within the stream of news, there will also be something similar to podcasts with many episodes, that I can scroll through to select. I tapped “interesting” for”Planet Money”, “Hidden Brain” too.
I was really worried at first that if I skipped stories in the categories that I “interested”, I would not be able to hear anymore stories similar to that. However, I would still get them fed into my news stream. And not only those categories that I picked came through but similar categories also jumped into my streams, like “health news” and “food”. When news in categories that I didn’t pick show up, there will be a line of small text that says “We think you’ll find this interesting”.
What I didn’t ever tap “interesting” was for “politics” and “around the nation” but I would still get a lot of political news all the time, which I didn’t like quite that much. The other thing I would say that I’m not fully satisfied with is that, even though it offered varieties of categories of news, compared to Apple News, which aggregates news from every outlet, NPR One still lacked a lot of variety. I would get repeating news and I think that with time, if that remains the case then it will get users to be less patient. On the other hand, I especially like the podcasts, they are longer than news and often in dialogue/interview format which made listening to them very easy. Therefore, overall, I think that the algorithm selected pretty well. I would rate it a B+, if it didn’t feed me that much politics.
I would definitely try to continue developing this into a habit and increase the range of stories I “interest” to broaden my general knowledge rather effortlessly. The simple interface made using it extremely easy which I liked too. Although, I would want to be able to pick the categories at first, right after I sign up for the NPR One app.