In 2007, I made a blog post about a website called ZipAZap, which used to provide TV listings. None of the service providers back then – including Tata Sky or Dish TV – had any good electronic programme guides (EPGs). Hindustan Times and Times of India often get listings wrong, drop channels at their whim and whore out ad space to promote their own channels, so I came to rely upon ZipAZap for TV show listings.
Those were days when our TV connection used CAS. Our provider was Wire & Wireless India Ltd (earlier called Siti Cable) which to this day hasn’t come to terms with the fact that I’ve switched to Tata Sky; like a jilted lover I keep getting calls from W&WIL once in every few months telling me its a ‘regular check-up call to ensure our customers are happy’. Yes, I’m very happy with Tata Sky, thank you [click]. Tata Sky provides a comprehensive EPG, but you need to tread carefully. Of late, they’ve started adding the words ‘hilarity ensues‘ to every other movie listing, which effectively kills any desire to watch that particular show. (Psst…for those not in the know, ‘hilarity ensues’ is the standard text Hollywood adds to any movies which they know is crap and deserves nothing more than a direct-to-DVD release.)
A few months back, ZipAZap rechristened itself as What’s On India. It went from a sensible-looking page to a so-called programme guide which looks as if an Excel spreadsheet has been crapped on a web page.
By the time a page finishes loading, the TV show I might be interested in would probably get over. I really don’t understand what the need for this ‘makeover’ was. On top of that, programme details are provided in annoying little hover menus – I seriously get pissed off with those since in most cases you have to keep your mouse cursor impossibly still. (Reminds me of radio sets in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy universe.)
I finally found a replacement a few weeks ago called Burrp.com. Burrp! is primarily a local search kind of site focussing on restaurant details / reviews, but tucked away in a corner of the site is Burrp! TV.
Burrp! TV did what ZipAZap got right the first time – and then made it even better. Scrolling to future time in ZipAZap involved loading the page again but on Burrp this is done using Ajax. You can switch forward/backward as much as you want smoothly. The interface is simply elegant and functional. Shows are colour-coded according to type. If you create a (free) account, you can even set your favourite channels to see a customised view (like I have done). Or you could browse by genre using the dropdown box at the top / links in the footer.
Clicking on a show title shows you brief details about it and allows you to set free SMS reminders. If the show is a repeating show or if the movie in question will be shown on some other day too, then Burrp! will tell you that too – which is quite handy! Say you come across a review of a good movie which is coming on TV tonight, but don’t have time to watch today. You can check Burrp! to see if its repeating on any other day; if yes, then you can find out the time/date and set an SMS reminder for it.
You can even set favourite recurring shows. Burrp! database stores information on which TV shows are part of a series, and once you set a series as a favourite you can set up SMS alerts for the whole series. You can choose how long before the show start time you want to receive the SMS, and I’ve found that Burrp! never skips an SMS delivery. SMS is useful, but in case you don’t want that you can opt for email alerts instead.
Specifically for movies, clicking on a movie title (after you’ve clicked once in the schedule view) takes you to a detail page where you can read a short blurb on what the movie is about (minus the ‘hilarity ensues’. Are you listening, Tata Sky?), cast, IMDB rating (helpful!) and even trivia related to the movie.
Search feature on Burrp! actually works, unlike ZipAZap’s couldn’t even find shows which its own listings were showing. Moreover, I haven’t found a single Burrp! listing to ever to be inaccurate. At certain times there are movies with the same title, but released on different years – may not even be remakes but movies with completely different plot-lines. I’ve had instances where Tata Sky’s EPG picked the ‘wrong version’ of the movie title in its EPG, but Burrp! got it right.
Oh, and BTW, Burrp! is not associated with Yahoo! in any way. Let me assure you of that. 😛 Despite! What! Anyone! Else! Might! Say! Or! Think!
My rating for Burrp! is 10/10. This is one web service which has got everything right – functionality with a beautiful design to boot.