Maybe Program Guides Shouldn't Be on TV

That was a suggestion from Richard Bullwinkle, chief evangelist of Rovi, during our webinar this past week, “Converged TV: Building the Social, Dynamic Video Platform.”

Remember: Rovi is the company that sells the TV Guide-branded interactive program guides to cable operators and consumer-electronics companies.

“I’m going to say something that may sound sacrilegious to someone from Rovi,” Bullwinkle said, “but I don’t even know that guides belong on TVs anymore. If I’m looking for what I’m going to watch next, and I’m in the middle of a show and my family is enjoying it and delighted, the last thing I should do is pull up a grid in front of everybody.”

Instead, having the ability to pull up the guide info on a phone or tablet, and control the set-top box that way — it’s a better, more personalized experience, Bullwinkle said.

Bonus: Unlike with a regular remote, he added, if you lose your phone in the cushions of your couch, you can call it and it rings!

Last week NDS’s Steve Tranter made the point, that perhaps the IPG will eventually fade away, in showing off his company’s “Mango” prototype iPad application last week at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo (see NDS Bites Into ‘Mango’). Comcast, for its part, is very excited about its iPad-based remote control app, set to debut in mid-November.

The “companion” device idea is supported by Motorola’s 2010 Media Engagement Barometer survey. The company found 40% of those surveyed have used social networking/chat/email about a television show while watching it — and about half of those people said they’d be willing to change service providers to get those kinds of features, said Buddy Snow, senior director of solutions marketing, Motorola Broadband Home Solutions.

“As the newer generation get into the age where they’re paying bills, they definitely want to augment that [television] experience — but not on the main screen, and I’ll reinforce the point about companion devices,” Snow said.

In any case, it’s critical for service providers to have discovery mechanisms to their subscribers can use to find stuff to watch: 84% of TV viewers have no idea what they want to watch when they sit down on the sofa, according to Rovi’s research.

You can access the webinar archive here (free registration required):