Cable provider Cox Communications is rolling out a new program guide that will improve search and discovery of broadcast and on-demand TV content. The new Trio program guide, which will be released as part of Cox’s Plus Package, will be available on Cisco (s CSCO) tru2way set-top boxes that will be rolled out through all Cox markets by the end of the year.
The Plus Package, which includes whole-home DVR, more DVR storage and additional high-definition channels, will be available for a small additional fee to Cox subscribers. The package will be rolled out in select Cox markets by the end of the second quarter, and to the rest of Cox’s footprint by the end of the year.
The Trio guide was designed by Cox and Frog Design and implemented by NDS, and is aimed at making content discovery easier. The guide has three panels for browsing — one which includes channel listings, one which has a list of programming on those channels, and a third that and show information. In addition to the default viewing option, the programming guide also enables subscribers to view content across different content categories and genres.
The main attraction, though, is the way the program guide combines content from broadcast, on demand and time-shifted recordings, enabling users to find all content across those platforms in a unified search interface. With advanced metadata, users can also find related content for programming that they enjoy, based on genre, actor or related series. The new system allows multiple users to create individual profiles, which enables them to have personalized DVR and favorited search or show listings. In future releases, Cox plans to extend the program guide to also include a recommendation function, based on previous programming that users have watched or searched for.
While enabling personalized content recommendations, the data that Cox collects could also enable more interactive and targeted advertising through the new service. In a phone interview, David Grabert, media relations director for Cox, said that while the cableco was “very cognizant of privacy concerns,” the service would allow it to work with Canoe Ventures to provide smarter, more interactive and more engaging advertising through its advanced set-top boxes.
Cox is just one company working on improving its customer experience through an integrated and more easily searchable programming guide. In many ways, Cox’s unified search and discovery mechanism, as well as the ability to find related content by actor and genre, match similar capabilities that TiVo (s TIVO) recently added to its latest DVRs.
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