TV Guide Targets Cellphone Screens

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Electronic programming guide giant Gemstar-TV Guide International is now taking aim at the burgeoning mobile video market.

Its subsidiary, TV Guide Mobile Entertainment, Inc., has signed an exclusive deal with mobile broadcast software vendor Roundbox, Inc. to develop and globally co-market a new user interface for mobile TV, the Electronic Service Guide (ESG).

By partnering with venture-backed Roundbox, which specializes in mobile applications, TV Guide Mobile is aiming to bring the familiar look and feel of its grid-based cable EPG to new mobile TV applications such as Qualcomm’s MediaFLO and Verizon’s V Cast, says Rich Cusick, Gemstar-TV Guide’s SVP of digital media.

“The TV Guide look and experience is very consumer-tested,” says Cusick. “We want to bring a consumer-oriented interface to video content on mobile phones.”

Similar to Gemstar-TV Guide’s existing model with cable operators, TV Guide Mobile and Roundbox plan to license the ESG to carriers like Verizon and Sprint, which they are currently in discussions with. The two companies also plan to sell advertising on the ESG, which will be designed to integrate live streaming mobile video with new on-demand applications that will be enabled through cellular networks.

Roundbox CEO Dennis Specht hopes that the ESG will become the portal for many applications on Internet-enabled smart-phones, serving as a link to Web browsing as well as entertainment functions.

“The Internet browser on a phone is usually a nightmare to get to,” says Specht. “We’re looking at how to make it easy to use for consumers.”

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