Comcast Guides DVRs To Web

Comcast has begun to broadly roll out an upgrade to its interactive program guide that provides several enhancements--including Web-based DVR scheduling--while its version of "Start Over" remains on hold. Previously, Comcast planned to offer Start Over to customers as early as the end of 2008.

"We continue to evaluate the Start Over technology," Comcast said in a statement. The company declined to elaborate on why the service was being sidelined.

Pioneered by Time Warner Cable, Start Over allows viewers to watch certain shows from the beginning (with fast-forwarding disabled) within the linear broadcast window.

For now, Comcast said, it is actively rolling out the next version of i-Guide for Motorola set-tops. That IPG is developed and maintained by GuideWorks, the joint venture between Comcast and Rovi (formerly Macrovision).

With the new i-Guide A28, Comcast is offering myDVR Manager, which lets subscribers schedule recordings on one or more DVRs from the Web at

Comcast and other cable operators have trailed DirecTV, Verizon, AT&T, TiVo and others in providing the ability to remotely manage DVRs, and it's a feature competitors have touted as part of recent marketing campaigns.

Other new features in the i-Guide A28 include "skip ahead/skip back" to fast-forward or rewind DVR recordings in five-minute increments; a new on-screen keyboard designed to make typing in searches faster; DVR folders that automatically group shows together; the ability to search and set recordings by actor, director or keyword, similar to TiVo's WishList; and bulk deletion of recordings.

Interactive TV features being launched with the IPG are shop-by-remote to make HSN purchases; "request for information" triggers for advertisers; and the ability to set program reminders or recordings directly from certain TV show and movie promos.

The A28 guide also shows viewers who tune to a standard-definition channel an on-screen prompt that lets them switch to an HD version if it's available.

"The enhancements bring customers more choice and convenience by allowing customers to easily skip forward or back during their favorite programs, watch their favorite programs in HD without having to scroll to a higher channel to see if it is available and search for programs by title, director, keyword and more," Comcast said.

Comcast is launching the A28 i-Guide market-by-market, with Chattanooga, Tenn., one of the first systems to receive the upgrade. The MSO expects to continue to roll out the enhanced IPG throughout 2009 and into early 2010.