Roku,fire tv, Google tv ,Vizio

How the hell do I find that?

Written by: Kai Schneider

Kai Schneider is VP of Business Development at USAND. His favorite streaming platform is AppleTV with Roku as a runner up. The apps that get the most play on his devices are Disney+,SiriusXM, Spotify, HBO, Peacock and Spectrum. He loves the OTT industry and all things streaming. He loves to make art, sing, play piano, skateboard, ride motorcycles and hang with his family. Fun fact, Kai is the creator of an award winning hot sauce and lives in Cincinnati Ohio. He also enjoys writing the occasional blog post...

A blog post about video content search and discovery and Donald Trump, cute kittens, the weather tomorrow, ChatGPT, Wordle, and Youtube.

S01 E01

Kai Schneider: Hello and welcome to the first episode of ” How the hell do I find that? A blog post about video content search and discovery and Donald Trump, cute kittens, the weather tomorrow, ChatGPT, Wordle, and Youtube…

In this blog post we talk about streaming content search and discovery from the perspective of two connected TV search experts. I’m Kai Schneider, and I’m joined by none other than the king of universal search, USAND’s CEO, Steve Harnsberger.  How we doing, Steve?

Steve Harnsberger: Smooth sailing so far, Kai! That’s quite a crazy title of a show.  But I know what you’re doing there.  This blog post covers the subject of content discovery, particularly search, and what better way to get discovered by placing the most searched terms in the world in the title of your show.  Clever. But getting discovered also depends depends a lot on how or where you are searching from – mobile or desktop? Apple or Amazon.  By voice or by text.  On streaming video platforms, over 70% of the users utilize the search functionality to discover content and as all of you know, search is on the homepage of all major streaming platforms, Roku, Apple, Amazon FireTV, GoogleTV, Samsung VIZIO etc.  I’m excited to chat about the importance of content discovery, particularly from a search perspective.  

Search on Apple TV:

Search on Google TV:

Search on Roku:

Search on Amazon Fire TV:

Search on VIZIO:

Search on Samsung:

In fact, how the hell are people even going to find this piece of content were making right here, even with all those names in the title?  This is the challenge for many content creators right?  They invest a ton of time and money into their content, and then fall short when it comes to getting in front of user’s eyeballs.  At my company USAND, which stands for Universal Search And Discovery, we are the preferred search onboarding partner for both Roku and VIZIO, working every day to help customers get into the search results on all streaming platforms so they get more viewers, and we regularly see companies that have great content but are not aware of some of the content discovery tools and best practices that can help tremendously in increasing app installs and gaining viewers. Or, perhaps they are aware of the tools but don’t know how to access them.

I’ve been working in this field for over 30 years and without telling you my age, I have seen TV move from black and white to color, from antenna to wifi (and back), from the big screen to the 4-inch screen, and from 3 channels and a handful of platforms to infinite channels and hundreds of platforms.  So, I’m happy to share my knowledge to our video community in this casual format.  This should be fun.

Kai Schneider: And this is why you are the king, getting right into it this crazy ever-changing world of tech and tv.  A lot sure has changed even since I was a kid too. I distinctly remember converting from rabbit ears.  For the younger readers, rabbit ears referred to the metal antenna placed on top of your tv that you positioned and repositioned to pick up broadcast tv signals that were delivered over the air just like the free (terrestrial) radio in your car.  The metal antenna made tv’s look like they had rabbit ears, hence the nickname. I also remember getting our first cable system in the 1980’s. The “remote control” was about the size of a shoe box and it was wired. It makes me wonder when the first tv remote was invented.

Steve Harnsberger:  Yeah a lot has changed in the tv space that is for sure but one thing that never changes is the need for content to be discovered, and it’s harder now than ever because there are so many different places to find content. 

Kai Schneider: OK, I just Googled “when was the first tv remote control made?” And, you can imagine my results, actually don’t imagine – here they are

Atop the page Google tells me it was the year 1898.  You and I know that is not possible because the tv wasn’t invented until the 1920’s. Looking at the smaller print above the “1898,” it appears this result may be the year the “remote control” was invented and not necessarily the one for the tv.  It isn’t quite clear. 

The first web result Google shows is a Wikipedia link (located barely above the fold) which has a preview line that reads “Early television remote controls (1956–1977) used ultrasonic tones. Present-day remote controls are commonly consumer infrared devices which send digitally”.  Ok so nothing solidified yet. Let’s ask Alexa.  Alexa, when was the first tv remote control made? 

Alexa:  The first tv remote control was made in 1955 by the Zenith Company and was called the Flashmatic.” 

Kai Schneider: OK, Steve, now Alexa is telling me some more facts about the Flashmatic. She’s awesome.  Alexa, STOP!  Steve, I’m gonna click the second link here on Google, it’s a site called “” which I am not familiar with.  Are you?

Steve Harnsberger:  Nope, never heard of it.

Kai Schneider: Here is what I got on

“It was in June of 1956 that the practical television remote controller first entered the American home. However, as far back as 1893, a remote control for television was described by Croatian inventor Nikola Tesla (1856–1943) in U.S. Patent 613809. The Germans used remote control motorboats during WWI. In the late 1940s, the first non-military uses for remote controls appeared, such as automatic garage door openers.

The Zenith Radio Corporation created the very first television remote control in 1950 called “Lazy Bone.” The Lazy Bone could turn a television on and off as well as change channels. However, it was not a wireless remote control. The Lazy Bone remote control was attached to the television by a bulky cable. It turned out that consumers did not like the cable because people kept tripping over the cord.

It was Zenith engineer Eugene Polley (1915–2012) who created the “Flash-matic,” the first wireless TV remote in 1955. “

Kai Schneider: Well, that took a lot of “work” to get to the right answer.  The Zenith company in 1950 is what I would say.  I went through all of that on purpose to show the oh-so common search experience we all go through on the web – and take in mind I’m no novice.  I’ve been searching the web for over 30 years.  Like most of you search is a regular thing on the web, and now this experience is happening on connected tvs and streaming devices where people are mostly searching for movies, tv shows, actors and directors (whatever the platform allows) but talking to your tv remote just like you talk to Chat GPT, Alexa, or Siri will soon be commonplace and a standard feature on all streaming platforms and this will require more robust video-first search results to satisfy consumers. We are moving closer to that every day but due to a variety of factors we are still quite a way’s out. Again, I’m just trying to convey my point that searching for

things can be super tedious and as you and I can attest to, it’s tough on connected tv’s and streaming devices too.

Steve Harnsberger: Yes. I recently heard a crazy stat that the average time searching for something to watch is 27 minutes and the average watch time is 21 minutes.  In fact, I was at a conference this past year and Google was giving a presentation about content discovery and the first slide said “less searching, more watching.” Look at this little gem we’re creating here, how the hell are people going to find it?  We live in a time where every movie, tv show, podcast, video clip, or piece of information should be one click away, but it rarely ever is.  Content of all types can be hard to find but particularly if obscure or niche.  On TV for instance, discovery tools like search are crucial because without them, viewers might as well be searching blindfolded.  There are hundreds of apps each containing thousands of tv series, episodes and movies which all need to be discovered. This is why search is so vital to our every day lives, especially in the world of video.  Everyone knows what rabbit holes you can fall down searching on the web – you just showed us a short one, but at least on the web, every website has a fair chance of getting discovered.  Take for instance.  You “discovered” a new website through your search effort because all websites and their content are listed on Google.  This is done using basic web infrastructure where the publisher’s robot text file tells Google what is on their site.  But, as you know Kai, that is not how it works on connected tv search because Roku, Amazon FireTV, VIZIO, AppleTV, Google TV are all black boxes.  You can generally only search for the titles of movies and tv series names on connected tv search.  Perhaps you can search for an actor or director but that is about it.  News and sports are integrating now, but slowly.  We all know how hard it is to find a way to watch the big game (insert any sport).  Now, the truth is a lot of this will seem like common sense since we all use search so often, but as we dig in, we will see that it’s not so easy to find all of your favorite content, and adversely, for the apps, it’s not so easy to get your content discovered. 

Kai Schneider: Wow. This is gonna be fun to dive into.  As a tv consumer I get frustrated looking for content almost daily.  Depending on what device or screen I’m using in a particular room in my house, the content discovery experience is different and generally frustrating.  In some rooms I talk to my remote (sometimes it listens), or SIRI, and in some rooms I have to type to my tv either on a remote or on my phone.  Regardless, for me, the content discovery experience always starts with a remote or a phone in my hand and honestly nowadays I prefer to talk to my remote control.  “Turn on Bluey” is a big one in my house.   I mean, how great is voice search?!?

Steve Harnsberger: That’s right, and stats don’t lie. With billions of searches conducted every day via text or voice, more than 70% of viewers are using search to find their favorite shows yet, ironically, 90% of apps aren’t even in the search results.  This is why I say getting into search should be your first step in content discovery if you are an app developer.  People are looking for content and there are fantastic apps that aren’t coming up in the results when you search for terms like “Turn on Bluey (we know, its on Disney Plus).  But, when these apps eventually integrate with universal search on the major streaming platforms like Roku, Google TV, FireTV, Apple TV, they’re not just

discovered; they’re visited and revisited, much like a favorite vacation spot.  Search increases app installs, visits, minutes viewed, and in turn, revenue.

Kai Schneider: Absolutely, and we’ve seen clients who’ve onboarded to universal search on Roku, for instance, experience a 10x increase in monthly app installs.  It’s the most cost-effective discovery tool out there, boosting visibility for a fraction of traditional marketing costs.

Steve Harnsberger: But, integrating universal search isn’t just plug and play.  Your app developer, CMS, and content type can aid or deter the search onboarding process.  It takes a lot of metadata work to do search properly and also some business development skills as you know….

Kai Schneider: Ok, lets slow down, as this is our first episode, we are not going to overload everyone with all the info.  We just wanted to introduce ourselves and the theme.  If you are interested in the world of content discovery, if you are a video app developer, if you are a tech enthusiast, or even if you are just a lover of streaming video then I think you will dig this blog. 

Steve Harnsberger: Well, let’s just tell them a little more.  A few future topics: Sports Search, News Search, Niche Genre Search, Search Onboarding challenges, Search Metadata Optimization, Search on each streaming platform, Voice vs, Text serach, FAST Search, Multi language Search, the best search platforms and… 

Kai Schneider: Ok, Ok, Ok.  We’re talking search I think they get it.  Let’s cut this one short before we over stay our wilcome.  Tune in for episode 2 where we talk about… well, Universal Search right here on “How the hell do I find that?”