Comcast Adds Video Screens to Guide

Comcast
has deployed a video-based interactive program guide that can display up to six
live channels simultaneously to about a quarter of its digital-cable footprint,
and its home base of

Philadelphia
is among the systems to get it next.

The guide,
called Comcast Central, is available on 5.7 million of the approximately 19.5
million digital set-tops boxes deployed, senior director of corporate
communications Jenni Moyer said.

Chicago
is the biggest system where the new video guide has been deployed.

The main
screen of Comcast Central features continuous video with guides providing
updates on TV shows, movies and on-demand programming.

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. It was developed by the

Comcast
Media
Center
and GuideWorks, a joint venture between Comcast and Gemstar-TV Guide
International.

The video
guide features run on GuideWorks’ iGuide IPG, which is currently available only
for Motorola boxes.

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; that version is expected to be available in the third quarter.