Comcast to Widen Video IPG Rollout

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Comcast deployed a video-based interactive program guide -- which can display up to six live channels simultaneously -- to about one-quarter of its digital-cable set-top footprint, and the operator’s home market of Philadelphia is among the systems on tap to get it next.

The guide, called Comcast Central, is available on 5.7 million of the approximately 19.5 million digital set-tops deployed, senior director of corporate communications Jenni Moyer said. Chicago -- where Comcast is in the midst of phasing out more than one-half of its analog tier -- is the largest system where the new video guide has been deployed.

The video-navigation application presents a live view of what’s currently on as many as six channels in three categories: sports, news and kids’ programming. A viewer can’t change which channels appear on the screens, but, according to Comcast, the mosaic rotates among several channels. The audio for a channel plays when a user highlights its window.

Moyer said the operator demonstrated the “video-rich navigation” application two years ago and began rolling it out last year. The app runs on iGuide, the IPG developed by GuideWorks, a joint venture between Comcast and Gemstar-TV Guide International.

About 75% of Comcast’s deployed set-tops are supplied by Motorola, and nearly all of them run iGuide (the exception is Washington state, which uses an IPG from Microsoft). The remaining 25% are Scientific Atlanta boxes and run SA’s SARA guide.

GuideWorks is porting iGuide to run on SA platforms, and that version is expected to be available in the third quarter.

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