Rovi’s Got the Content, But Will the Customers Follow?


Rovi (formerly Macrovision) arrived at CES this week with its new TotalGuide digital programming guide (formerly “Liquid”) and a slew of new content partners, hoping to win over the hearts and minds of CE manufacturers looking for a way to integrate traditional TV content alongside that of broadband video.

Rovi named 20 new content partners that are integrating with TotalGuide, including Showtime Networks, ZillionTV, and Rhapsody in the U.S. as well as a long list of European-based firms. They join existing content providers like CBS, Blockbuster, YouTube and Roxio CinemaNow.

Rovi hopes to become the default programming guide for the next generation of HDTVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. In order to reach that goal, it’s positioning itself against companies like TiVo, Boxee and others that hope to provide the user interface for a variety of connected devices.

The difference is that TotalGuide will integrate cable and broadband video content side-by-side, in a single unified interface. But more importantly, the product can be used as a search and discovery guide for that content, regardless of the delivery. And via user reviews and metadata from partners like Flixster, TotalGuide offers social recommendations for video viewing.

Corey Ferengul, Rovi’s EVP of marketing and product management, said in an interview with NewTeeVee that while the programming guide it offers is typically associated with the TV Guide broadcast and cable listings that appear on any usual set-top box, TotalGuide goes above and beyond that. “What [TotalGuide] is all about is saying, ‘What about all the broadband content you have available? How do we get content like that built into a Blu-ray player or built into a TV directly?'” Ferengul said.

But will CE manufacturers be interested? Up until now, integrating new over-the-top content into connected devices was an ad hoc process between the CE companies and their content partners, which frequently had to build custom implementations and user interfaces for each new web-based service. By aggregating multiple content sources, Rovi can provide flexibility for CE makers by allowing them to pick and choose which ones they want to support.

But it better act fast — with new standards and new companies emerging to conquer the same problem, Rovi’s window to make headway in this sector may be limited. Already we’ve seen multiple device makers choose Vudu to provide the interface for Web-based video services on their devices, and other CE manufacturers are bound to start making similar decisions soon.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Macrovision Becomes Rovi, Launches Liquid


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