Macrovision Changes its Name to Rovi, Unveils "Liquid" Digital Media Guide

--Rovi Chief Evangelist, Richard Bullwinkle, Discusses the Developments with [itvt]

Macrovision--the company which last year acquired the US's dominant EPG developer, Gemstar-TV Guide--will today officially change its name to Rovi Corporation (and adopt the NASDAQ ticker symbol, ROVI), as it previously announced it would do, and launch its new brand positioning and visual identity. It will also launch a new digital media guide, code-named "Liquid," that is targeted at consumer electronics manufacturers and that it bills as expanding on its traditional EPG products by providing consumers with a single interface through which they can access entertainment content on the Internet or stored on their home PC's, alongside broadcast and cable TV programming. "Over the past two years, we have been focused on an ambitious strategy to change the digital entertainment experience," Rovi president and CEO, Fred Amoroso, said in a prepared statement. "As a result, we have made dramatic changes to our solutions portfolio. With our leading guide solutions and extensive entertainment metadata, we believe we are now positioned as a key enabler for digital entertainment. Today's announcement is the next step in uniting our technology and people under one shared identity, allowing us to move forward in creating a highly enjoyable entertainment experience for the consumer." The company's new corporate boilerplate describes it as "focused on revolutionizing the digital entertainment landscape by delivering solutions that enable consumers to intuitively discover new entertainment from many sources and locations. The company also provides extensive entertainment discovery solutions for television, movies, music and photos to its customers in the consumer electronics, cable and satellite, entertainment and online distribution markets," the boilerplate continues. "These solutions, complemented by industry leading entertainment data, create the connections between people and technology, and enable them to discover and manage entertainment in its most enjoyable form."

According to Rovi, the new Liquid digital media guide--which it says is tru2way-compatible and supports digital broadcasting in North America and Europe, including terrestrial, satellite and cable platforms--is comprised of three "distinct, but integrated" components which CE manufacturers can license together or as separate modules: a Television Content Guide, a Broadband Content Guide and a Personal Content Guide. The company bills the Television Content Guide as a "linear broadcast television discovery solution" that consumer electronics manufacturers can embed into their devices, and that offers an optional DVR application and advanced advertising capabilities. It bills the Broadband Content Guide, meanwhile, as "providing centralized access to a variety of premium and other Internet-based content" and as supporting "paid streaming media from our entertain¬ment partners, as well as free content from popular news, music, social networking and other Web sites." It says it has integrated Blockbuster's Blockbuster OnDemand premium service into the Broadband Content Guide and that the guide will also support access to Sonic Solutions' Roxio CinemaNow premium service; free online content services supported by the guide include Internet radio service, Slacker Radio, and YouTube XL, a version of the video-sharing service that was launched last month in order to facilitate viewing of videos on a TV screen (see article published on itvt.com, June 3rd). Finally, Rovi bills Liquid's Personal Content Guide as not only allowing users to navigate their digital media collections, but as also allowing them to share their content from "the ease and comfort of their television screens." According to Rovi, all three Content Guides will be regularly updated through the company's hosted update service.

Rovi bills the new guide as taking four complementary approaches to the task of enabling users to discover programming and other content that interests them: 1) editorial--"Rovi experts fuel the recommendations engine with professionally reviewed categorized viewing recommendations and editorial reviews," the company says; 2) personalization--the guide learns users preferences and tastes based on their interactions with it, Rovi says, and then uses this intelligence to store favorites and make metadata-enhanced recommendations for undiscovered content; in addition, the company claims, the guide stores user profiles, so that each member of a household can retrieve a personalized guide each time he or she turns on the TV; 3) social network integration--the guide connects to Flixster (a social network for movie lovers) and other popular social networking services, Rovi says, so that users can share their favorites with one another and get instant access to titles recommended to them by their friends and family; 4) search--users can conduct searches, Rovi says, based on a variety of keywords and categories that are powered by the company's extensive media metadata (note: the company claims that the guide can draw on, among other resources, over 2.5 million program descriptions, 120,000 celebrity profiles, and searchable data on TV shows since 1960; all this information is complemented by rich program graphics, behind-the-scenes extras and other multimedia, the company says). The Liquid guide is slated for availability early next year, both as a combined package and as individual modules.

[itvt] spoke to Rovi chief evangelist, Richard Bullwinkle, about the company's rebranding and the new Liquid digital media guide Wednesday morning. The interview is available HERE.

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