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How to Solve the TV Guide Problem

There is general industry-wide consensus that something must be done about the TV electronic program guide (EPG). Just like the printed TV Guide booklet that used to arrive at my house every week as a kid, the standard EPG format is now outdated thanks to huge linear content additions, new VOD libraries, and masses of interactive Internet applications that have set consumer expectations for video viewing. Unfortunately, fixing the EPG isn’t as easy as updating a web page. At least not yet.

At the Set-Top Box 2010 conference running today and tomorrow (somewhat overshadowed by a certain other Cali event this morning…), TV technologists have gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities for television hardware going forward, including what to do about the program guide experience. David Grubb, CTO for Motorola’s Home business, keynoted the event today with a presentation on moving into the Internet Era of Television. In it, he addressed the EPG dilemma first by laying out the goals of a program guide, and then suggesting strategies for evolving the EPG to meet those objectives. Here’s an excerpt from his slide deck. In a word, the answer to the EPG dilemma is personalization.

6 Responses

  1. [...] at the Set-Top Box 2010 conference yesterday, Motorola Senior Director of Advanced Technology Ajay Luthra laid out his view on the roadmap for [...]

  2. The TV user interface is in desperate need of an overhaul. What was designed over 10 years ago no longer works today. When your spoiled with fresh, modern UI’s from Iphones, droids, and the modern PC operating system, it’s quite a throwback when you bring up that old school guide on your big TV.

    I’m moving out of a Comcast territory to an area served by a smaller MSO. They also use I-Guide, but are a revision behind (no web programming, no caller ID on screen, etc…) I’m seriously considering Dish because of the UI and HD channels are on the same numbers as SD. Both Sat providers and the local cable company all contain the same HD content that I want. Since I can get the content I want from either place, what’s to differentiate one over the other, besides price? The HD-DVR usability and interface. Providers can only offer as much content that exists out there today. Once were beyond the HD channel count wars, it’s time to differentiate your service with value added features and interactivity. It’s time to focus on the UI and make the service attractive and easy to use.

    With heavy Gen-Y market influence, with this new rush of baby boomers kids getting out on their own in apartments or their first time home, they need to make decisions on where to get their content. This generation grew up in the information age and expects more from what is currently available today. Design something pleasing to the eye with a multitude of features, and be sure to include social interactivity and you’ll be sure to win over this new hot market.

  3. [...] it provides. For example, by creating a Web-like development environment, service providers can improve the TV navigation system to make both content search and content discovery a lot easier. By managing everything in the [...]

  4. One of the things I love about my Tivo is I can customize the channel list, eliminating all the channels I don’t care about. The SD versions of the HD channels, the foreign language stuff, the channels I don’t pay for, the channels I’m not interested in, etc. Takes the ridiculous 1000 channel lineup down to under a hundred and makes it somewhat manageable to scroll around.

    Something I CAN’T do with a cable company STB. Why? Because they want me to know about all those stupid channels every time I scroll around! They couldn’t stand it if I figured out how few of those channels I actually watch, and how much money they’re charging me for the privilege. Or something.

    Suspect that whatever good ideas there are in this presentation (and to be honest it seems pretty light-weight) will never make it past the cable companies to actual deployment. You might as well forget it.

  5. [...] offer converged services that bridge both types of content, personalized applications to solve the content overload problem, and remote support capabilities that help consumers manage all the devices that might hang off of [...]

  6. [...] program guides have always been a major point of contention among operators, and a major pain point among consumers. Expect the wars to heat up in 2011, however. Between new IP-based guides and regulatory wrangling [...]

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