Comcast tests new way to navigate TV shows
Borrowing a page from Google TV, cable giant Comcast Corp. is experimenting with new tools to help viewers figure out what to watch on TV.
The cable operator is running a small-scale trial in Augusta, Ga., of a new type of program guide that lets viewers search for favorite shows among hundreds of TV listings and on-demand video offerings, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
This Internet-like search feature, which is also found in Google TV, is intended as an improvement over the current, more time-consuming way to wade through the programming options -- in which viewers click through a menu of program choices, one channel at a time.
Comcast's service would also, for the first time, include a smattering of Web video among the viewing choices -- such as movie trailers or the occasional YouTube video, according to the person. However, it does not allow for open-ended Web browsing or access to competing on-demand video services available on the Internet, such as Netflix or Amazon.com.
The experiment comes just a month after Comcast launched a new app for Apple Inc.'s iPad that lets people use the tablet to review the TV listings and change the channel in real time, browse the video-on-demand offerings or record programs to their DVRs.
Comcast's experiment is a sign that the nation's largest cable TV operator is feeling pressure from the growing number of Internet-connected devices and services that make it easy for viewers to watch Web video and on-demand movies and TV shows in their homes.
The trial was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
--Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo of Google TV. Credit: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg