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TV directory MeeVee: nice, but just skin deep

TV directory MeeVee: nice, but just skin deep

A new version of the TV site MeeVee launches today. MeeVee is a personalized television directory, and a good one. But it's missing something. Something big.

First, the good bits: MeeVee is more than a static electronic program guide. You can add "interests" to your personal profile. These can be particular shows or broader topics. The MeeVee service will then put shows that meet your interests in the My Guide section at the top of its program grid. This way you don't have to sort through 500 channels of data to discover the few shows you might like, and you don't have to remember which network a show is on. Yet MeeVee won't surprise you, like Tivo does, and record programs for you of its own volition.

On the other hand, it won't help you record shows at all, which is its big problem. It's nice to have a good video guide, especially one that plays show previews, but since ultimately what you want to do after using the site is actually watch TV, shouldn't the site help you do that? MeeVee will tell you when your favorite shows are coming up--you can get both e-mail and RSS reminders--but sites such as this one (and CNET's own TV.com) only become truly useful, I think, if they do things such as set your TiVo or other PVR device to record for you or point you to online or cell phone versions of shows that you've missed or help you buy a show or a series you want on iTunes. MeeVee does none of that, although it will direct you to Amazon to purchase shows that are old enough to be on DVD already.

MeeVee will also let you set up a widget of the shows that you watch that you can plug into MySpace or any other site. Again, though, MeeVee isn't connected to your actual viewing experience. It picks up shows you tag as favorites, but not what you actually watch.

The service also has a directory of Internet television streams and will play them in its own window. But the streaming stations are not integrated into the rest of the service: streamed shows don't show up on the main program grid, and you can't add them to your widget.

MeeVee CEO Michael Raneri told me that his company is working on tighter integration (in particular, online TiVo programming).

Today's MeeVee 2.0 is a helpful service if you're looking for new shows to watch. But so are TitanTV, TV.com, TVGuide, and Zap2it. MeeVee is attractive but not deep. It can't control your different television-viewing devices, and it doesn't do enough to integrate the growing diversity of video sources.