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Gemstar-TV Guide, Comcast Tout Interactive-Program-Guide Usage

Digital-cable viewers really love their interactive program guides, according to new research being released Tuesday by navigation giant Gemstar-TV Guide International and Comcast Spotlight, the advertising arm of cable operator Comcast.

According to a study from market-research firm Lieberman Research Worldwide that was commissioned by Gemstar-TV Guide and Comcast, 75% of IPG users immediately access the guide upon turning on their TV and 80% consider the IPG a “necessity for viewing.”

Other findings: 65% of respondents turn to their IPG while watching a program to see what’s on other channels and 25% regularly turn on their IPG during commercial breaks.

That Gemstar-TV Guide and Comcast are partnering to present IPG research isn’t surprising, as the two companies run a joint venture, GuideWorks, which developed Comcast’s current iGuide platform.

The Lieberman study, conducted via telephone in June and July, is the first major look at IPG usage since 2002, said Gemstar-TV Guide senior vice president and director of ad sales Richy Glassberg (since Nielsen doesn’t track IPG use, Gemstar-TV Guide commissions its own studies).

The new study had 1,612 respondents and focused on their use of the iGuide, which has a more dynamic user interface than first-generation interactive guides and is now deployed in some 17 million homes (9 million are Comcast subscribers).

In the five years since Gemstar-TV Guide’s last study, IPG usage is up “20%-30% across the board,” Glassberg said. He believes the data points from the Lieberman study corroborate research from the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing and major networks indicating that more than 50% of viewers are overwhelmed by the number of programming choices and don’t know what they want to watch when the turn on the TV.

“The American consumer doesn’t know what they want to watch, so the guide is a great resource for them,” Glassberg said.

Understandably, Glassberg was particularly excited about Lieberman’s findings relating to IPG advertising. According to the study, one-half of iGuide users reported noticing ads on their IPG at least once a week, and one-half of those viewers said they have clicked on the ads. Also, 40% of respondents who recalled seeing an on-demand movie or event advertised ordered it.

“Overall, if people see the ad, they take action,” Glassberg said.