iO Gets an Interactive Facelift


Cablevision Systems Corp. has quietly begun to roll out a new guide to 1.5 million iO: Interactive Optimum customers, with vibrant colors and an easier navigation system to help wade through linear, video-on-demand and interactive choices.

“Navigation is a critical element of a successful digital-cable service,” said senior vice president of product management Kristin Dolan. “With such a volume of content, subscribers need to know where they are at any time. That was the most critical piece.

“We didn’t want them to get so deep they didn’t know how to get out. We call it the bread-crumb trail.”

Now, screens for each category are color-coded — like purple for on demand, blue for ITV and orange for IO games.

As subscribers drill deeper into any category, progress is highlighted and displayed on vertical bars (on the left side of the screen) which show the specific steps taken so far. The vertical bars are shaded in the category’s core color: the darker the color, the deeper into the category.

Work has been under way for several years, including a period in which Cablevision shifted from Sony Corp. to Scientific-Atlanta Inc. set-tops. The new navigation system is a PowerKey TV application that runs on all the S-A set-tops Cablevision uses, as well as legacy Sony Corp. boxes.

Cablevision’s core categories are Channel Guide, On Demand, Active Rentals, iO Games, Enhanced TV and iO Showcase.

Active Rentals, which allows customers to see the VOD content they’ve rented and what’s still available in the viewing window, is a new category, Dolan said.

“We have added the concept of whole-house active rentals,” she said. “You can start a movie one place and finish watching in another room.”

That Sony-platform application has now been ported to the S-A boxes.

Other features: short descriptions of programming selections; an on-screen digital clock; a picture-in-picture TV window that displays both the current channel being watched and allows access to all other iO categories.

Cablevision’s Engineering and Technology Group developed the new interface with DevelopOnBox. The overall look and feel was developed by Cablevision with Schematic.

Cablevision has grouped linear channels together, to ease navigation. Channels 1 to 99 feature traditional cable networks. Digital networks are located in the 100s, international channels in the 200s, premium movie multiplexes in the 300s, out-of-market sports packages in the 400s, on-demand access in the 500s, ITV sites in the 600s, HDTV services in the 700s and 45 commercial free music channels in the 800s.

Cablevision continues to let subscribers buy SVOD services and other add-on packages via remote control.