Cablevision rolling out new program guide

Cablevision is introducing a new service, the Optimum Cablevision is introducing a new service, the Optimum Program Guide, which will be available to all Long Island Cablevision customers by the end of October 2012. Company executives said it is designed to integrate an individual subscriber's various program choices, habits and preferences onto one navigable screen. Photo Credit: Bloomberg News, 2010

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Cablevision begins rollout this morning of an expanded program guide that will replace the "scroll" that has been the longtime linchpin of program navigation.

The new service, called the Optimum Program Guide, which will be available to all Long Island Cablevision customers by the end of the month, is designed to integrate an individual subscriber's various program choices, habits and preferences onto one navigable screen, according to company executives. Cablevision owns Newsday.

The guide will be accessible, free of charge, from the current remote's "guide" button.

Patrick Donoghue, Cablevision's senior vice president of strategic product development, said in an interview that the guide will retain an enhanced grid along with "four different ways to represent the [program] data." He added, "It's that less-is-more: Give [subscribers] the basics and then the ability to make these customizations to suit their preferences."

The "silos" -- where digitally recorded programs, for example, are stored -- will be eliminated, with that information now placed in the new guide. The guide will also incorporate video-on-demand offerings and let subscribers tailor their viewing interests, said Donoghue, and also offer subscribers a chance to rate individual shows on a star-based system, which will help to customize future viewing choices.

The new guide represents a significant advance in a critically important area for Cablevision, which, like all major cable operators, is eyeing inroads from Google TV and Apple TV, as well as from FiOS, Dish and DirecTV, in so-called "cloud-based user interface" technology. Such technology is designed to link a user's various devices, most notably mobile ones, with search engines and other computing tools.

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Tuna Amobi, media and entertainment analyst for Standard & Poor's Capital IQ, called the new guide "part of the effort to enhance the user experience" and to deflect challenges from competitors.

"This is trying to make the video product more compelling and hoping that this can help to slow down or mitigate 'churn' " -- subscriber loss -- "over the long term. These haven't typically been what I'd call game changers, but they are incremental advancements that could have some positive impact" for the cable operator.

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