Fetch TV 'getting new EPG next year'

Tuesday, October 13 2009, 13:06 BST

By Andrew Laughlin,

IP Vision has confirmed plans to rollout a new electronic programming guide for its Fetch TV SmartBox at the start of 2010.

Back in July, the firm officially launched the twin tuner Freeview+ accredited set top box, which offers access to a range of broadcast TV and video on demand content via a transparent EPG.

Speaking to Digital ***, the company's marketing director Peter Cox revealed plans to solidify the product's market position and then bring on board more new services to stay ahead of the curve.

As part of this approach, the company intends to introduce a "really smart" new EPG in the first quarter of next year, which will take on a more carousel-style design.

"One of the key components at launch was to get the service running coherently because we knew that we were already ahead of the game, in terms of technology and also in terms of getting services embedded into one box and available at a reasonable price to retailers and online," he said. "So we thought that we would bed that down and then launch the sexy looking interface after."

Rolling out such new initiatives as the EPG, as well as introducing additional content, is made easier for IP Vision due to the fact that the SmartBox is IP-enabled.

Commercial director David Bloom explained that the people behind IP Vision have backgrounds in interactive TV, which was a "brilliant idea but did not quite work in practice".

"The great thing about this box in terms of changing things, adapting things and so on is that it is comparatively easy compared to before," said Bloom.

"We can continually launch new things and update the boxes in-situ. We can actually change the entire user interface, including the EPG, with no real disruption. It was always fraught with difficulty in the past but because it's all driven by the IP, it is much easier to do."

As part of a "fairly robust plan of action", Cox said that the company is also currently developing a remote EPG service for launch in the first quarter of next year, in which users will be able to set PVR recordings via their computer or mobile phone.

A further initiative under consideration is for users to start consuming content on their phones and then finish off watching it on their SmartBox upon returning home.

"We are also considering social options, but this will just be basic tailored aspects, such as recommendations rather than full capabilities," said Cox.

"We have got working demos for those things up and running, but it's all about timing as we are still getting used to running distribution and things like that."

Cox revealed that the company is close to agreeing new distribution deals with two major retailers and an online firm to come into force before Christmas this year.

"So we will have good distribution up to Christmas, which we will consolidate in the New Year and then go for the full mass market reach by the end of next year," he said.