Rovi Launches Advanced Media Guide

In a major development in the way viewers will be able to access and search for programs in the future, Rovi Corporation is launching TotalGuide xD, a customizable advanced media guide. The guide, which is designed as white label product that MSOs can customize with their own brands and look, offers a common interface for accessing content on multiple devices and greatly expanded search functions, allowing users to more easily find and access a wider array of content.

The product is designed to help operators cope with increased competition from IPTV and over-the-top providers, noted Sharon Metz, vice president of vertical markets at Rovi in a briefing. To help retain subscribers, many of the major MSOs working to improve their subscriber experience by add online and mobile content to their traditional broadcast and cable programming and for solutions that would make it easier for users to find the right shows among hundreds of linear networks and tens of thousands of on demand content.

The new advanced media guide offers solutions for both issues. "As entertainment increasingly goes mobile via powerful tablet and smart phone devices, TotalGuide xD is the next step in our strategy to provide our MSO customers with innovative solutions that make their services stronger and the consumer experience the best and most current," noted Corey Ferengul, executive vice president, product, Rovi Corporation in a statement.

The Pennsylvania-based cable provider, Armstrong, has already chosen to trial Rovi TotalGuide xD and Rovi TotalGuide xD's iteration of the guide for iPads.

TotalGuide xD on the iPad is planned to be available for trials in second quarter of 2011 to support MSOs that license Rovi i-Guide and Passport Guide services. Applications that would allow users to access the advanced media guide on additional devices beyond the iPad are expected to be available throughout 2011.

The new product relies on the Rovi Media web cloud service to help overcome several problems facing operators as they move to offer more content on more devices, noted Christopher Lee, product management director in a pre-launch briefing.

The cloud services allows the platform to be deployed with fewer infrastructure costs and makes it easier to customize applications to difference devices which a variety of operating systems and features.

By integrating the TV with mobile devices like the iPad, uses can then use their iPad-and ultimately other mobile devices-to search for TV programs, a development that Rovi executives believe will help overcome the difficulties viewers currently face trying to sort through tens of thousands of on demand titles and hundreds of linear channels.

Using the keyboard on a tablet or a smart phone, users will be able to more easily search for titles and the addition screen can be used to launch interactive applications that might otherwise interfere with the viewing experience on a TV.

Other notable features of the system is its advanced search engine. A new Rovi "six degrees" discovery and recommendation engine, which helps consumers find more relevant video content and provides the flexibility to connect to a variety of video content sources, such as authenticated video.

The search engine also offers recommendations based on various criteria, including what popular, similar previously viewed items, recommendations from friends and editorial recommendations from the Rovi editorial team.

The product also supplies social network connections via Facebook and Twitter, e-mail integration, the ability to schedule DVR recordings and other features.