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Cable Show 2011: Rovi Adds Shiny Overlay For i-Guide

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Rovi will debut an advanced interactive program guide application that rides on top of its i-Guide IPG -- providing HD graphics, advanced search, recommendations and poster art -- as well as an over-the-top video-on-demand service aimed at non-TV devices for cable operators.

Rovi's TotalGuide Application for Set-top Boxes is designed to initially work alongside i-Guide.

The enhanced guide is a version of the TotalGuide product Rovi has pitched to consumer-electronics manufacturers, as a way to provide integrated search, discovery and recommendation features for Internet, broadcast TV personal media content through connected devices.

"We've taken a very different approach for the TotalGuide in the cable market because they want to take advantage of their existing set-tops," Rovi executive vice president of products Corey Ferengul said. "Our customers said, ‘Make this work with i-Guide -- give us a richer experience but don't make us make a massive investment in new hardware.'"

TotalGuide for Set-Top Boxes provides an optimized high definition interface that enables subscribers to quickly see what's on their favorite channels, search, and browse by programs, celebrities, cast and credits with Rovi "six degrees of discovery" across services offerings, from linear and on demand to DVR.

Earlier this year, Rovi launched TotalGuide xD, a customizable
white-labeled search and discovery app designed to let cable operators
extend TV content viewing, search, discovery and recommendations across
tablets and smartphones. Rovi TotalGuide for STB and xD are integrated to provide a consistent, entertaining navigation experience on multiple devices.

The TotalGuide Application for Set-top Boxes can be deployed so that users activate it via a button on the regular i-Guide menu. The guide application delivers some of the metadata over Internet protocol to set-tops, via a server in the MSO's headend. For operators that don't have the infrastructure to support IP-connected set-tops, Rovi offers "TotalGuide Lite" that strips out certain features such as movie poster art.

This week Rovi is announcing that Oregon's BendBroadband and Pennsylvania-based MSO Armstrong have signed licensing agreements with Rovi to launch versions of TotalGuide. BendBroadband plans to roll out both TotalGuide for Set-Top Boxes and TotalGuide xD to its subscribers. Armstrong began trials of TotalGuide xD in April and plans to launch the application to subscribers starting this fall.

"With the breadth of entertainment metadata, advanced search and recommendations that Rovi houses, TotalGuide for STBs and TotalGuide xD were easy choices in helping us to achieve our goal of a better experience for our subscribers," BendBroadband vice president of business operations John Farwell said in a statement.

According to Rovi, the TotalGuide software is compatible with a "wide range" of currently deployed set-tops.

Also this week, Rovi is introducing a new video distribution solution for service providers to deliver VOD to connected devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones. The solution is based on the RoxioNow online-video storefront system from Sonic Solutions, which Rovi acquired in December 2010.

The Rovi Video Distribution Solution also will integrate with the TotalGuide xD apps to let an MSO provide both content delivery and viewing on a tablet or smartphone.

"If you are a cable operator and you want to target other devices, this is a VOD approach outside the set-top box," Ferengul said.

For now Rovi is positioning the RoxioNow-based service as a complement to traditional VOD: "Operators don't want to replace their existing VOD solutions," Ferengul said. "Over time as set-tops become more IP-oriented, that may change."

The content rights vary depending on the arrangement that an individual operator has established with a studio or programmer.