Video software

'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable

10:30 AM -- Rovi Corp. has tailored a version of its "TotalGuide" for service providers, a move that comes about five months after it announced the platform at the Consumer Electronics Show and targeted it at broadband-connected set-tops and digital TVs coming by way of the retail-focused, consumer electronics industry. But now cable can use a version of TotalGuide, too. (See Rovi Brings TotalGuide to Cable.)

One claim of TotalGuide and its use of programming metadata is its ability to search, browse, and recommend titles across cable's linear TV and on-demand lineups, as well as from what the consumer has recorded to a set-top DVR. The guide can also pull in video results from the Web, if that's something the MSO happens to offer access to. As recommendations go, TotalGuide features help based on user preferences as well as shows recommended by the pros.

Although the idea of searching across video service types is relatively new to the cable set-top world, the idea is growing into a familiar one -- it's among the features that grace a new tru2way guide developed by Cox Communications Inc. that's set to debut in its Orange County, Calif., system in the second quarter of 2010. (See Cox Guides Tru2way Forward and Cox to Offer Tru2way Guide to Others.)

Rovi VP of product marketing David Jordan says TotalGuide is for advanced set-tops and can be made to work on boxes outfitted with tru2way.

The guide itself operates using two primary elements: a Web-based backend in the proverbial cloud that pushes data and updates to the MSO and then on to the guide; and the user interface itself.

TotalGuide for MSOs

Although TotalGuide for service providers is making its debut at this week's cable show in Los Angeles, when TotalGuide might start showing up on cable systems is another matter.

Rovi's best guestimate puts initial rollouts sometime in the early part of 2011. That's about the time it thinks TotalGuide will also start showing up in retail products, too.

Also, in case you are wondering, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) doesn’t have rights to TotalGuide. Comcast still has access to Rovi's key patents and intellectual property under a new licensing deal put in place after the MSO and Rovi dissolved their GuideWorks LLC joint venture earlier this year. But the right to hawk TotalGuide isn't part of what Comcast came away with. (See Rovi Exits Comcast Guide JV.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:36:45 PM
re: 'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable

... Why won't cable MSOs find a way to let consumers choose their UI?

If the set-top had some kind of API that Rovi and half a dozen other firms could write to, seems consumers would get a choice of guides and Rovi could be compensated based on how well its guide performs.

Am I oversimplifying something?

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:36:44 PM
re: 'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable

Yes, I guess you'd need to have customer service to support each guide (and its potential problems). Seems to me THIS is where companies like Yahoo and Google should make their mark.

They've got loyal users of their applications. They could offer a comparable experience online. They have already lowered the expectation of customer service (Seriously, who do you call if a Google doc isn't working?). And consumers love the way both companies (especially Google) simplify the UI in almost app they touch.

So why isn't Comcast making Rovi, Google, and Yahoo duke it out to be the dominant TV guide provider to their users?

To circumvent the customer service problem, Comcast could have a default UI -- a 70s style cable interface from Scientific Atlanta/Cisco -- that runs when the others fail.

Where do I send such genius suggestions?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:36:44 PM
re: 'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable


The issue is customer service.  If you make an assumption that everything works brilliantly, then it is no issue to have 1 guide or 100.  If there are problems that are guide specific, then well even 2 is bad. 



Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:36:43 PM
re: 'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable

A big piece of the issue is control... cable's been reluctant to give that up for the guide, and remains one of TiVo's biggest complaints about its work with cable so far.

But Seven's also right that in addition to just general control, operators are also wary of set-top software that might break... and guess who will get those complaints? Not the IPG maker.

And that well-deserved finger shouldn't be pointed only at cable. The same question applies to ATT, Verizon, DirecTV, Dish, and on and on... they don't let IPG suppliers simply fight it out at retail and see who comes out on top, either .

But that makes the question Phil raises all the more valid, and it's one that the FCC brings up in the "AllVid" notice of inquiry. In addition to separating out the security component, why can't an AllVid-compliant device introduce its own IPG or one from someone from Rovi, Boxee, or you name it? 

 The FCC is apparently of the belief that it can be done (on paper, anyway).  But that's still all idealistic thinking at this point. The FCC somehow thinks that AllVid can start to come into play by the end of 2012. Given that Dish and DirecTV are already against it, there's a fight ahead, so I think  the FCC's thoughts on the timeframe is super ambitious, if not super impossible, to hit. JB


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