Comcast Guides DVRs to the Web

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Comcast has begun to broadly roll out an upgrade to its interactive program guide that provides several enhancements — including Web-based digital video recorder scheduling — while its version of “Start Over” will remain on hold.

Previously, Comcast planned to offer Start Over to customers as early as the end of 2008. Start Over, pioneered by Time Warner Cable, allows viewers to watch certain shows from the beginning (with fast-forwarding disabled) within the linear broadcast window.

“We continue to evaluate the Start Over technology,” Comcast said in a statement. The company declined to elaborate on why the service was being sidelined.

For now, Comcast said, it is actively rolling out the next version of i-Guide for Motorola set-tops. That IPG is maintained by GuideWorks, the joint venture of Comcast and Rovi (formerly Macrovision).

With the new i-Guide A28, Comcast is offering myDVR Manager, which lets subscribers schedule recordings on one or more DVRs from the Web at www.comcast.net/mydvr.

Other new features include “skip ahead/skip back” to fast-forward or rewind DVR recordings in five-minute increments; a new on-screen keyboard designed to make it faster to type; DVR folders that automatically group shows together; and the ability to search and set recordings by actor, director or keyword, similar to TiVo's WishList.

Interactive TV features being launched with the IPG rollout are shop-by-remote to make HSN purchases; “request for information” triggers for advertisers; and the ability to set program reminders or recordings directly from certain TV show and movie promos.

The A28 guide also shows viewers who tune to a standard-definition channel an on-screen prompt that lets them switch to an HD version if it's available.

“The enhancements bring customers more choice and convenience by allowing customers to easily skip forward or back during their favorite programs, watch their favorite programs in HD without having to scroll to a higher channel to see if it is available and search for programs by title, director, keyword and more,” Comcast said.

Comcast is launching the A28 i-Guide market-by-market, with Chattanooga, Tenn., one of the first systems to receive the upgrade, according to Comcast director of corporate communications for video Ellen Mellody. The MSO expects to continue to roll out the enhanced IPG throughout 2009 and into early 2010.

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