It allowed cable systems in the United States and Canada to provide on-screen listings to their subscribers 24 hours a day displaying programming information up to 90 minutes in advance on a dedicated cable channel. Raw listings data for the service was supplied via satellite to participating cable systems, each of which installed a computer within its headend facility to present that data to subscribers in a format customized to the system's unique channel lineup.
The system was the focus of a article in STV Magazine. A remote control was used to interact with the unit. When the user found a show they wanted to watch, they would have to turn off the guide and then tune the satellite receiver to the correct service.
The guide information was distributed by satellite using the home owner's dish as the receiver. The information was stored locally so that the user could use the guide without having to be on a particular satellite or service.
In March , a second generation SuperGuide system was introduced that was integrated into the Uniden receiver. When the user found the show of interest, they pressed a button on the remote and the receiver tuned to the show they wanted to watch.
This unit also had a single button recording function, and controlled VCRs via an infrared output see US Available in North America, it was the first commercially available unit for home use that had a locally stored guide integrated with the receiver for single button viewing and taping. Zemering and Frank Shannon. This patent concerned the implementation of a searchable electronic program guide — an interactive program guide IPG. The situation varies from country to country, depending on the status of digitization and the role of pay television and IPTV in each market.
Scandinavia also is a highly innovative EPG market. In contrast to many other European countries, Germany lags behind, due to a relatively slow digitization process and the minor role of pay television in that country. EPGs can be made available through television on set-top boxes , mobile phones particularly through smartphone apps , and on the Internet. Higher-end receivers for digital broadcast radio and digital satellite radio commonly feature built-in IPGs as well. Demand for non-interactive electronic television program guides — television channels displaying listings for currently airing and upcoming programming — has been nearly eliminated by the widespread availability of interactive program guides for television; TV Guide Network, the largest of these services, eventually abandoned its original purpose as a non-interactive EPG service and became a traditional general entertainment cable channel, eventually rebranding as Pop in January When television IPGs are supported by PVRs , they enable viewers to plan viewing and recording by selecting broadcasts directly from the EPG, rather than programming timers.
The aspect of an IPG most noticed by users is its graphical user interface GUI , typically a grid or table listing channel names and program titles and times: Programs on offer from subchannels may also be listed. Typical IPGs also allow users the option of searching by genre, as well as immediate one-touch access to, or recording of, a selected program.
Reminders and parental control functions are also often included. The latest development in IPGs is personalization through a recommendation engine or semantics. Semantics are used to permit interest-based suggestions to one or several viewers on what to watch or record based on past patterns. One such IPG, iFanzy , allows users to customize its appearance. Standards for delivery of scheduling information to television-based IPGs vary from application to application, and by country.
Listings data for IPGs integrated into digital terrestrial television and radio receivers of the present day is typically sent within each station's MPEG transport stream , or alongside it in a special data stream.
These tables are meant to contain program start times and titles along with additional program descriptive metadata. Current time signals are also included for on-screen display purposes, and they are also used to set timers on recording devices. Devices embedded within modern digital cable and satellite television receivers, on the other hand, customarily rely upon third-party listings metadata aggregators to provide them with their on-screen listings data. Some IPG systems built into older set-top boxes designed to receive terrestrial digital signals and television sets with built-in digital tuners may have a lesser degree of interactive features compared to those included in cable, satellite and IPTV converters; technical limitations in these models may prevent users from accessing program listings beyond at maximum 16 hours in advance and complete program synopses, and the inability for the IPG to parse synopses for certain programs from the MPEG stream or displaying next-day listings until at or after IPGs built into newer television including Smart TV , digital terrestrial set-top box and antenna-ready DVR models feature on-screen displays and interactive guide features more comparable to their pay television set-top counterparts, including the ability to display grids and, in the case of DVRs intended for terrestrial use, the ability — with an Internet connection — to access listings and content from over-the-top services.
A growing trend is for manufacturers such as Elgato and Topfield and software developers such as Microsoft in their Windows Media Center to use an Internet connection to acquire data for their built-in IPGs.
In developing IPG software, manufacturers must include functions to address the growing volumes of increasingly complex data associated with programming. This data includes program descriptions, schedules and parental television ratings , along with flags for technical and access features such as display formats, closed captioning and Descriptive Video Service. They must also include user configuration information such as favorite channel lists, and multimedia content.
To meet this need, some set-top box software designs incorporate a "database layer" that utilizes either proprietary functions or a commercial off-the-shelf embedded database system for sorting, storing and retrieving programming data.