NEW YORK - Continuing to transform home entertainment, Verizon is introducing Verizon FiOS TV's interactive media guide that helps customers quickly and easily find and enjoy content from TV listings, video-on-demand catalogs and digital video recorders as well as personal music and photos from the home network. Future versions of the guide will add Internet radio, videos, podcasts and games to the FiOS TV multimedia platform.
FiOS TV's interactive media guide is currently deployed to customers in Indiana, Rhode Island and parts of New Jersey, and Verizon now is rolling out the new guide to other markets.
"Our new interactive media guide is the latest exciting development from FiOS TV," said Shawn Strickland, Verizon vice president of video solutions. "We've capitalized on our investment in an ultra-fast, highly responsive fiber-optic network to deliver a customer experience that marries the best interactivity of the Web with the highest-quality programming experience in the marketplace. The interactive media guide erases the lines between TV, Internet and personal media and makes it easy for customers to personalize and enjoy media throughout their homes."
Through a network download, FiOS TV customers will be upgraded to the new guide automatically at no additional cost, and they will continue to use their existing set-top boxes and universal remote controls. In the days leading up to the launch in each market, customers will receive a "driver's manual" and other communications about the guide's cool new features.
"When customers turn on the TV after the overnight upgrade, it will be a brand-new day in home entertainment," Strickland said.
Guide Capitalizes on the Power of the Network
The first release of Verizon's new interactive media guide pulls together content from a variety of sources - broadcast TV, Verizon's more than 8,600-title video-on-demand library and the subscriber's own DVR recordings - into one media management system. Customers who have FiOS TV's Media Manager, part of its innovative Home Media DVR service, can also search, organize and enjoy their digital photos and music with a few clicks of the remote control. Over the next year, subscribers will be able to manage additional content like games, podcasts and Internet video through the same guide, from the comfort of their own living rooms.
Verizon provides FiOS services over the nation's most advanced, all-digital fiber-optic network that reaches all the way to customers' homes, and the interactive media guide is one example of how Verizon is making life better on the FiOS network.
When customers use the interactive media guide to search for content, such as video-on-demand titles or broadcast schedules, they instantly get relevant results, thanks to the network's high bandwidth and fast response times. And, because Verizon combines powerful search servers in the network with innovative search routines, the search results will even reflect current news topics. For example, if two actors have the same initials, but one of them has recently been in the news, the results of a search on those initials will treat the "newsworthy" actor as more relevant to the search than results describing the other actor.
Verizon is extending the network-based capabilities when customers are not at home. Within the next year, FiOS customers will be able to use cell phones and the Internet to manage their home entertainment -- including scheduling recordings on their Home Media DVR.
Verizon's world-class software-development team built the new guide software, working round-the-clock and around the world and using technology licensed by a variety of cutting-edge providers. Before rolling out the interactive media guide to customers in Indiana and Rhode Island, Verizon refined and tested the application's design and usability over 18 months with more than 2,000 consumers in Boston and Dallas and performed field trials with customers in New Jersey this spring.
Transforming the User Experience
"We listened to our customers and created a next-generation guide that is attractive, amazingly responsive and easy to use," Strickland said. "No other experience on the market can match the innovation we're delivering to customers with the interactive media guide."
Verizon designed the on-screen guide with the vibrant colors, graphics and easy-to-use interfaces that customers have come to expect from the best in consumer electronics. Strickland said a key design principle was to help customers reach content with the fewest clicks of the remote control, including video-on-demand and DVR programs. Navigation is intuitive and can be done with the remote control's arrows and "OK" button or by using the remote's shortcut keys.
Another key design principle was to give customers choice in how they interact with FiOS TV. Customers can search for content using cell phone-style text entry, a virtual keyboard or a simple scroll wheel, all onscreen. As the customer enters each text character in the search, the guide responds with corresponding actor names, TV shows, on-demand titles and more. Adding characters refines the search rapidly.
Subscribers can customize their search by choosing to see all channels, HDTV channels only or a list of their favorite channels. They also can select the size of the guide's screen with a choice of full-screen view, half-screen view or mini-screen.
The search for on-demand content comes to life with a colorful on-screen movie posters for featured titles, another innovative experience powered by the FiOS network. Even with the more than 8,600 on-demand programs available today on FiOS TV, finding movies and shows is fast and simple, with current titles included in all keyword searches. Users can also browse by newest release, stars and special interests such as children's comedies.
Verizon began offering FiOS TV service in September 2005, and quickly established a reputation for the highest-quality entertainment experience in the market. The service is now available to more than 3.1 million households in parts of 12 states: California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia. The company expects 15 million households to be video-ready by 2010.
More information about FiOS TV, fiber optics and other broadband services and applications is available at www.verizonfios.com.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 60.7 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.