Cable Show 2010: Cox Updates Program Guide - Broadcasting & Cable

Cable Show 2010: Cox Updates Program Guide

Unveils "Trio" on new set-top platform
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Cable Show 2010: Complete Coverage
After a multi-year development
effort, cable operator Cox Communications is ready to deploy a new
program guide designed to provide subscribers with seamless search
of
linear, on-demand and time-shifted programming, and the ability to
personalize the interface for individual viewers in a household.
The
Trio guide, developed in conjunction with U.K-based interactive TV
software supplier NDS and design firm Frog Design, will be formally
introduced and demonstrated at the NCTA convention in Los Angeles this
week. Cox plans to launch the new guide in at least two markets this
quarter and make it available in all its markets this year.
NDS says
it may also market Trio to other operators, though Cox holds the core
licenses to the technology and would share in any future sales.
Trio
will be offered by Cox as part of a new Advanced TV Plus package that
provides multi-room DVR functionality. The package uses high-end Cisco
8642 and 1642 Tru2way set-tops that connect over MoCA (Multimedia over
Coax Alliance) networking. Cox also plans to incorporate parts of Trio
into its Website and its upcoming wireless phone service, Technology
says Steve Necessary, Cox's VP of video product development and support.
"The
design elements will be clearly and consistently carried through to
other screens as well," he says.
Like other cable operators, Cox
found its navigation technology lagging behind in recent years as it
rapidly expanded its content offerings with more HDTV channels and VOD
titles. Consumer research indicated that customers weren't taking
advantage of the new options because they were simply too hard to find
with existing guides built on older set-top platforms.
"We certainly
realized our guides were, in fact, broken," says Lisa Pickelsimer, Cox's
executive director of video product management.
Cox couldn't find
what it was looking for in existing guides from traditional vendors like
Gemstar-TV Guide (now owned by Rovi). So, in the spring of 2008, it
contracted with NDS to create a completely new guide. Last year, it gave
NDS the additional task of adapting existing Cox interactive
applications, such as integrated telephony services and Mosaic video
channels, to cable's Tru2way software platform.
The sum of those
efforts has resulted in Trio, which provides channel listings in a
three-panel view below a small video window in the center, with a
channel list on the left, a program list in the center and a detailed
description of a selected program on the right. Traditional grid- and
theme-based views are also available.
In a demonstration to New York
media last month, the new guide quickly performed universal search,
using keyword, title or actor's name, and retrieved reams of related
content based on metadata from Tribune Media Services. Trio can be
customized to show different views and favorite channels for up to eight
individual viewers. The VOD storefront is also streamlined, with the
option of surfing movie titles visually by scrolling through poster art.
As
NDS VP of Interactive and Broadband Steve Tranter puts it: "We're using
this as much more of a visual guide."

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