Comcast Finds Search Button

Just as Google tries to squeeze its way onto the
living-room TV, Comcast is finally giving customers a way to
search across both TV listings and video-on-demand titles. The operator has started rolling out the VOD search function to
subscribers in Motorola markets, with plans to bring the feature
to its Cisco Systems footprint via a Tru2way-based guide targeted
for deployment in the first half of 2011.

The “Search TV & On Demand” menu option will be appearing on
the operator’s i-Guide interactive program guide over the next several
months in Motorola-system markets, Comcast senior director
of video product development Ted Hodgins wrote in a Nov. 5 post on
the MSO’s corporate blog.

“Search TV & On Demand” returns both linear TV listings and
VOD titles. For example, search results for “East” would include
HBO’s Eastbound & Down, Clint Eastwood movies, the BBC’s East-
, The Witches of Eastwick, music videos from Lil’ Jon & The East
Side Boyz
and an ESPN special on the Big East conference. There’s
also an option to search only within VOD.

“The results are sorted by relevance, just like a Google search
would be,” Hodgins wrote.

The comparison to Google is noteworthy, given that the Internet
giant has embarked on its own strategy to provide an integrated
search function for TV. Partners on the Google TV initiative include
Dish Network, Sony, Best Buy and Logitech — but so far the major
broadcast networks and Hulu are blocking the Google TV software
from accessing video content.

Comcast initially rolled out the integrated TV and VOD
search feature in southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia,
in mid-September. It’s now available in other Motorola
systems,including central Pennsylvania, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh,
New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and
Washington, D.C.

The feature will continue to roll out
to Motorola-system markets through
the fall and winter. Hodgins also noted
that customers in Comcast’s Cisco
Systems areas — which include
Baltimore; Houston; Minneapolis;
Memphis, Tenn.; and Alexandria/
Arlington, Va. — will see the VOD
search features as a part of a new tru-
2way guide coming to those systems
in the first half of 2011.