Cox Trots Out Tru2way Guide
ATLANTA -- Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies -- Cox Communications Inc. 's tru2way-powered "Trio" interactive program guide is live and "in front of real customers today," MSO executive director of video product development Lisa Pickelsimer told attendees here last week.
Cox isn't revealing any Trio markets yet, but it's out there, somewhere. But it will be everywhere Cox is soon enough, since the MSO still intends to launch the guide in all its markets later this year.
But the MSO's cautious rollout pace early on is by design. Pickelsimer acknowledged that Cox "is taking it [the deployment] a little bit slowly" to ensure that the operational elements and the overall experience are up to snuff.
Cox announced details of the guide in May, noting that Trio will be the centerpiece of a new "Plus Package" that will feature a richer set of HD programming, a multi-room DVR, and a central box that sports a 500-gigabyte hard drive. Cox intends to offer the package in all its markets initially on the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) platform. (See Cox Guides Tru2way Forward and Cox to Offer Tru2way Guide to Others.)
Pickelsimer said Cox will measure the success of the guide partly based on pickup for the Plus Package and its ability to reduce churn. Beyond that, the hope is that the new interface and its ability to search across linear, on-demand, and DVR recordings will help generate more usage of video on demand (VoD). Cox subs "will see more value out of their cable subscription," she predicted.
Pickelsimer walked the audience through the key features of the guide, noting that the "signature" view offers a comprehensive look at content in three panels (hence the Trio name): the left panel lists the channels, the center one lists the programs, and the third panel on the far right highlights information on selected programming. Trio also allows users to create up to eight separate profiles based on channel favorites and other guide settings. Many more personalization settings for the Trio guide are under development, she said.
Cox, which has some big wireless ambitions of its own well underway, plans to share some visual and functional elements of Trio with its mobile user interface as well as to PCs. "There will be some similarities, though they [the guides] don't look exactly alike." One quick example: Cox will use yellow highlights wherever there is a call to action for the customer. (See Cox Finds Friends for 3G Wireless Trials in Omaha .)
And the similarities will also stretch out to how Cox plans to offer TV services and apps across different screen types. "We have created interfaces for video viewing that are consistent with Trio."
Although Cox is far along with tru2way, it's less so with Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), an interactive TV platform that can run on cable's full array of digital set-top boxes.
Canoe Ventures LLC , the cross-MSO advanced advertising JV, is using EBIF to power its national request for information campaigns, which are just now getting off the ground in some Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) markets. (See Canoe Boots Up Interactive Ad Campaign .)
Pickelsimer said Cox is "on board with Canoe's initiatives" and is in the process of getting the EBIF "user agents" (the software that runs on the set-tops) into its set-top boxes.
"We're really in a build phase," she said, noting that Cox is porting its existing interactive apps to the EBIF platform. "We view that [EBIF] as our interactive platform for legacy boxes," she said.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable