Tivo’s EPG for the internet age

With so much entertainment now available on TV and, increasingly, via the web, how will we find and organise the shows and movies we want in the future? Tivo, original developer of the PVR, has developed an EPG that combines the entertainment goodness of the broadcast and broadband worlds.

Coming soon to the UK and US, the new ‘Tivo Premiere’ service will allow people to search the internet for content using their networked Tivo media device in the same way that they currently search the television broadcast schedule. Broadband content found in the search appears in an onscreen display on a connected television, after which users can choose to download their selection to a Tivo device for viewing, or bookmark it as a ‘Favourite’ and return to it later, just like they would a website.

The Premiere service allows users to search the web for previous and future episodes of a TV show, and for bonus content related to the shows, such as actor profiles and making-of videos. Instructions are provided on how to access the various types of content located in a broadband search, some of which may be free to download, or available to buy or rent. The service will also search the internet like a web browser and find YouTube videos and podcasts associated with a search.

In the US, Tivo Premiere will be available in either the 320GB or 1TB Tivo model, and the remote control will feature a flip-out QWERTY keypad to make searches easier. No pricing is yet available.

In the UK, the Tivo service will appear in set-top boxes from cable TV company, Virgin Media. The company utilises a super-fast fibre optic network, enabling broadband content to stream or download almost instantly for a better viewer experience. Britain’s biggest cable TV operator, Sky, looks likely to copy the Tivo initiative, with plans to integrate internet content into its EPG later in the year.

Hybrid TV services couldn’t confirm the availability of Tivo Premiere in Australia, but indicated that “an integrated broadcast and broadband onscreen guide may also be on Hybrid TV’s cards for CASPA in the near future”. CASPA comprises a library of free and pay-per-view video-on-demand content that can be downloaded via the Tivo media device.

Meanwhile, other parties are also well placed to provide an integrated broadband and broadcast entertainment listing. Foxtel, for example, could combine BigPond Movies, its Pay-TV schedule and the online catchup TV services of the major broadcasters into a single onscreen guide. Freeview, too, could combine the network’s online offerings with its free-to-air digital TV EPG, with selected web content streamed to televisions and set-top boxes connected over a home network.”