Cablevision develops guide feature similar to Verizon FiOS 'What's Hot' app

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) has developed a feature for its new Optimum Program Guide that allows subscribers to view the most popular programs that fellow subscribers are watching in real time.

Cablevision popularity patent

Image source: Cablevision

The technology used for the feature, called "Most Watched," is detailed in a recent patent application from Cablevision. The patent, titled "systems and methods for real time media consumption feedback," displays a product that is similar to the "What's Hot" widget that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has developed for its FiOS TV Interactive Media Guide, and for apps it has built for Apple's iPhone and iPad, and Google Android mobile devices.

Cablevision says in the patent application that current interactive program guides make it difficult for viewers to sort through hundreds of program choices. "While conventional STB UIs [set-top box user interfaces] display schedule information, they do not have the ability to display real time usage data of channels or programs currently being watched.  Accordingly, what is needed is a system that enables real time or near-real time feedback of media consumption patterns occurring for media that is presently available, that enables a user to select media to view based on popularity of the media," Cablevision writes in the patent application.

Cablevision also describes how it may be able to encourage customers to upgrade to premium channels by displaying popular channels that aren't available in their current programming packages.

"The viewership of each channel may be normalized based on the subscribership to a given channel, so that the popularity rankings reflect the percentage of viewers with access to the channel who choose to watch it. Such an approach can have the beneficial effect of highlighting to lower tier subscribers interesting and popular content that is available as part of a higher tier subscription. This benefits the operator by promoting additional tiers of service, and benefits the user by helping them to identify and evaluate additional purchase options," Cablevision states in the patent application.

Several top Cablevision executives are named as inventors on the patent application, including SVP of strategic product development Patrick Donoghue, SVP of strategic product advancement Jonathan Greenfield, senior advisor of engineering and technology Wilt Hildenbrand and senior EVP of product management and marketing Kristin Dolan.  The patent application was published on Oct. 4 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent application also describes how Cablevision may be able to promote programs by including new titles in lists of popular shows, even if they are not currently generating a significant amount of viewers. "An interface listing 'most popular' programs may include featured listings added regardless of their popularity, in order to promote programs that have not yet attained status among the most popular programs. Preferably, the system explicitly identifies these featured listings as distinct from the most popular programs, for example by displaying them in a different color, or by marking them as featured listings," Cablevision wrote in the application.

Cablevision included the "Most Watched" function on the Optimum App for Laptop application for PCs and Macs that it launched in April. That application lets subscribers watch live TV channels from their Optimum subscriptions on PCs and Macs within their homes. 

For more:
- see the patent application

Related articles: 
Comcast, Cablevision, Bright House execs push cloud and IP video products at SCTE opener
A look at advanced guides from Cablevision, DirecTV, AT&T, and the future of channel surfing
Cablevision deploys new Optimum Program Guide
Seibert: Cablevision focused on retention, WiFi, Onyx program guide
Cablevision will deploy Onyx guide in Q4, and offer WiFi service on trains