'I-Guide’ Starts to Roll Out

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. has scored the first rollouts for its next-generation “I-Guide,” designed to make it easier for subscribers to navigate both linear and on-demand programming.

Comcast Corp., which developed the “I-Guide” with Gemstar through their joint venture, recently began testing the new IPG on a few cable systems, said spokeswoman Jenni Moyer, who declined to name them.

“We are in the early stages of deployment. The plan is we’re going to roll it out throughout the remainder of the year,” Moyer said.

Last month, Shaw Communications launched the “I-Guide” to about 500,000 digital-cable subscribers, said TV Guide Television Group senior vice president Todd Walker. Canadian MSO Shaw has deployed the guide on Motorola Inc.’s DCT-2000, DCT-5100 and DCT-2500 digital set-tops.

Gemstar had originally planned to roll out the I-Guide in June. Walker said the rollout was delayed because the company needed to wait for certification from Motorola’s Acadia lab, which didn’t certify the IPG for use on Motorola set-tops until the end of July.

Walker said the “I-Guide” isn’t yet compatible with set-tops from Pioneer Corp. and Scientific Atlanta Inc.

The biggest differences between the I-Guide and the TV Guide Interactive guide that Comcast and several other MSOs use today involve the look, the placement of advertising and the ability to navigate on-demand programming with the guide.

Walker said the I-Guide allows users to access on-demand programming from linear channels. For example, a viewer watching Home Box Office could access the programmer’s on-demand library with the click of one button.

The I-Guide is also a high-resolution guide, while the current version of TV Guide Interactive is low resolution.

Gemstar has also reduced the amount of space that advertising occupies on the interface. It has replaced the large advertising windows that ran on the left side of the screen with a single banner ad that is now positioned alongside the bottom.