Virgin Media is beginning to show off its concept of the new generation of EPG for its set top boxes, with an interface more akin to a PlayStation 3 than a traditional programme guide.
Electronic programme guides are clearly evolving rapidly – fed not only by the increasing familiarity of the audience but also the need to integrate vast amounts more channels and, significantly, adoption of web widgets and VOD functionality.
A Virgin Media spokesman reiterated that these very early shots are all about proof of concept, with the company looking at the evolution of its services and keen to begin working towards that.
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Zones and widgets
Virgin Media's new EPG screen shot – which has 'zones' for channels rather than the familiar grid, would allow the grouping of not only a programme guide, but also competitions, interactive functionality and VOD within a channel.
This non-linear view of television is increasingly necessary; if someone wants to watch a BBC programme then why should they look in a different place for VOD/iPlayer content than they would programmes that are coming up, or even programmes that have been recorded by the user?
Plus, as the Virgin screenshot reveals, widgets that allow some web functionality can also be included – something that has become an especially hot topic within the TV and set-top box industry.
The look and feel of the future EPG from Virgin Media draws immediate comparisons with the console world – and in particular the Sony PS3 Cross media bar (XMB) which has been a success on the smaller scale PSP and Vaio laptops as well.
The grid, it seems, may be the traditional way to look through TV programmes, but there is a need for a better way to display the wealth of television information, and that display must also be scaleable.