Interactive Program Guides - Top cable technologies in 2013

Tools

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and other MSOs are deploying cloud-based interactive program guides that executives compare to the program guides used by online video providers such as Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).

The new IPGs contain recommendation engines that can suggest TV shows and movies to subscribers based on viewing history and profiles for each subscriber. Program titles are also displayed with box art similar to the images contained on DVDs for movie releases.

Comcast was the first major MSO to launch a cloud-based program guide with the launch of its Xfinity X1 product last year. The new Optimum Program Guide that Cablevision began rolling out in October looks similar to the interface the company developed for apps it built for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and iPhone.

Cox Communications teamed up with Cisco to develop a new interactive program guide for cable set-tops and mobile devices. The MSO announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that it will launch a new app for the iPad later this year that will allow subscribers to receive personalized program recommendations, and use the app as a remote control. The app will also allow subscribers to access its video-on-demand programming lineup and 90 live networks.

Pay TV distributors are also beginning to integrate voice and motion controls with IPGs. Comcast, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse TV subscribers who own an Xbox with Kinect can navigate a limited number of cable networks with voice commands and hand gestures by accessing apps that the companies have developed for the Xbox. AT&T was the first pay TV distributor to integrate voice controls in a U-verse Easy Remote app it launched for iOS devices last fall. And Comcast has said that it will soon add voice controls to its Xfinity apps for iOS devices in 2013.