Rovi Unveils Multiple New North American, European Content Partners for its TotalGuide EPG

--Announces Support for HbbTV

Rovi (formerly Macrovision--for more on the company's name change and the repositioning it heralds, see the interview with Rovi chief evangelist, Richard Bullwinkle, that was published on itvt.com, July 16th) announced last week that it plans to add OTT content from Showtime Networks and ZillionTV to its new TotalGuide consumer electronics EPG (formerly code-named "Liquid"), and also said that it is collaborating with 15 European content providers to bring content to the guide.

Rovi bills the TotalGuide EPG as unifying search, discovery and recommendations, in order to provide consumers with a single destination where they can access content seamlessly from the Internet, from broadcast services and from their own personal media libraries. The company--which claims to be working with "industry leading content providers to create an environment where consumers have access to more movies, TV shows, promotional content, photos and music on the big screen in their home"--has previously announced content deals for the guide with Blockbuster, YouTube, CBS, Roxio CinemaNow (Sonic Solutions), Slacker and Rhapsody. "The Internet connectivity on the TV opens up more choices for the consumer," Corey Ferengul, Rovi's EVP of product management and marketing, said in a prepared statement. "However, in order for the TV to remain the central entertainment device, consumers will need an easy way to explore those choices. Discovery and access to content needs to be a simple process. A primary goal of Rovi's TotalGuide is to simplify the digital media experience. We believe this will drive increased purchases of digital media as well as devices." According to Showtime, its partnership with Rovi will see it using the TotalGuide EPG to offer "rich Showtime content such as video extras, free sample episodes, bios and cast interviews and other value-added content traditionally found on Web sites."

Rovi's new European content partners for TotalGuide are broadcasters ZDF, Five, ARD-Tagesschau, Das Vierte, NRJ-12, Arte and Bibel TV; IP-based TV services golfdigital.tv, Berlin Fashion TV and Freshmilk TV; pan-European VOD content provider, Diva AG; user-generated content aggregator, Dailymotion; music video service, QTom; interactive TV games provider, PlayJam; and radio services provider, tunin.fm. The company points out that the roster of European TotalGuide partners spans multiple countries, and that some of the partners provide country-specific content.

At the same time as it announced its new European TotalGuide content partners, Rovi announced its support for Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), a pan-European industry initiative that seeks to provide a specification for standardizing access to such services as catch-up TV, VOD, interactive advertising, personalization, voting, games and social networking, as well as program-related services such as digital text and program guides. Its support of HbbTV will enable other companies that are working with the spec to "readily migrate their content onto TotalGuide," the company says.

At an invitation-only exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Rovi demo'd what it described as an "early version" of the TotalGuide. Among other things, the demo showcased integrated search capability with CBS and Blockbuster (note: the company says it demo'd Internet-based promotional content from CBS, and the ability to purchase or rent titles from Blockbuster directly through the guide), and integration with Flixster, a social network targeted at movie aficionados (note: Rovi claims that this integration will "allow social recommendations as part of [the company's] 'six degrees' of content navigation, search and discovery experience"). Rovi also revealed that, in order to support access to premium content through TotalGuide, it is utilizing Widevine's video optimization and DRM solutions.

Rovi's other CES activities included demo's of its new Media Management solution. According to the company, the solution, which is designed for manufacturers of PC's, set-top boxes, mobile handsets and network-attached storage devices, can identify, tag and organize digital music, videos and photos by attaching descriptive metadata to assets for easier filing and searching. "Consumers today can have difficulty finding, managing, and enjoying all of their entertainment content because it resides on separate devices, is accessed through different interfaces and is often not labeled consistently," the company says in its CES press materials. It claims that the new Media Management solution therefore includes a PC application, powered by the company's LASSO and Connected Platform technologies, that enables consumers to reconcile digital media, acquired from multiple sources and stored in different locations, into a "uniform, clean personal media library." It says that the solution draws on its extensive collection of descriptive data and editorial information for CD's, songs, DVD's, Blu-ray discs and digital files, in order to make it easier for consumers to find the entertainment that matters most to them and keep their personal media libraries up to date.

Region: 
North America