Video software

Twitter, Facebook Coming to Cox's Tru2way IPG

Cox Communications Inc. plans to jazz up its Trio interactive program guide (IPG) next year with new features ranging from widgets that give subscribers quick access to local news and weather content to popular social-networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter Inc.

The upcoming Trio 2.0 release should help Cox compete with the advanced IPG that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) distributes to FiOS TV subscribers. That guide features about 20 interactive widgets, including Facebook and Twitter, along with a "What's Hot" section that details the most popular programs subscribers are watching on live TV and video on demand, and recording on their DVRs. (See Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS.)

Cox, meanwhile, has also issued specifications to technology vendors for ways to add a "most watched" section to the guide, which would allow subscribers to track the top programs viewers are watching at any given time in local markets, Cox executive director of video product development Lisa Pickelsimer told Light Reading Cable.

Cox began rolling out the Trio guide in May, deploying it to subscribers that order its "Plus Package," which includes a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)-made multi-room DVR with 500 gigabytes of storage, and a broader HDTV lineup. The guide is based on the industry’s tru2way platform. (See Cox Trots Out Tru2way Guide and Cox Guides Tru2way Forward.)

Pickelsimer said Cox originally planned to include access to interactive widgets in the initial Trio release, but decided to wait until early 2011 "due to time-to-market concerns."

"At a minimum what we would like to do is provide that easy widgetized access to the ITV apps that we have already developed on our legacy platform," Pickelsimer added.

Update: Cox said it will begin adding the interactive TV widgets such as news and sports content to the Trio Guide in the first quarter, and that it will add social-media functions to the guide at a later time. Cox, by the way, has rolled out Trio in its San Diego, Orange County, Kansas City, and New England systems.

By pressing the up arrow on their remotes, subscribers will be able to access an information bar and widgets for several apps, including an email viewer, horoscopes, and weather info, Pickelsimer said. Cox will also have widgets giving subscribers quick access to news stories, sports scores, and local lottery results.

Cox has developed Trio using specs that drive the guide's look and feel as well as the functions it wants to offer subscribers. The company signed NDS Ltd. to write the software codes for Trio based on those specs, but also has an intellectual property license with Rovi Corp. , which owns several key patents related to IPGs, Pickelsimer said. (See Cox Puts NDS at Heart of Tru2way Plan , NDS Cracks the US Cable Code , and Rovi Flips Switch on TV Widgets.)

For now, Trio remains tied to Cox's new premium TV package. Cox uses Rovi IPGs for digital cable subscribers who don't have a DVR and in some markets, and still uses the SARA (Scientific Atlanta Resident Application) guide from Cisco in a few areas, Pickelsimer said.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:19:42 PM
re: Twitter, Facebook Coming to Cox's Tru2way IPG

Cox just mentioned to Steve some addition details on when Twitter and FB will be added in (later than some of the new widgets, as it turns out) , and where Cox has deployed Trio already. Check the update graph in the story for more specifics. JB


SteveDonohue 12/5/2012 | 4:19:40 PM
re: Twitter, Facebook Coming to Cox's Tru2way IPG

Even after Cox and other MSOs add interactive TV widgets and applications like Facebook to their guides, I think the majority of cable subs will only use their guides to channel surf. I have FiOS at home, and like having access to news, weather, Facebook, and YouTube apps through the guide, but don't use them often. I find it easier to pull up the same content on my laptop. 

It's still a good idea for MSOs to add these interactive TV widgets to their guides. Many of their younger, tech savvy subs could be drawn to the content, and if they're on the fence about picking cable vs. telco or DBS, they could go with the provider with the coolest apps. 




Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:19:40 PM
re: Twitter, Facebook Coming to Cox's Tru2way IPG

I suppose these types of elements need to be added just to keep pace with competitors, but I imagine the appeal of some of these apps can wear off after the novelty period passes. 

But I agree that some of that multitasking is better served by a laptop, as you say, or a tablet like the iPad, especially if you're watching TV with someone else. It might be a tad annoying if I was fiddling around with twitter on the TV while someone else was watching with me.  But Dish, VZ, cable, et al, have launched or are developing those types of apps. JB

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