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EPG & PVR (DVR) Design 

Justin Hewelt, PayMedia

“Electronic Program Guides” (or EPGs) in the digital TV space evolved out of necessity in the mid-1990s. The arrival of digital TV meant a need to manage choice of 100 or more broadcast channels, and in most cases, new pay TV products such as NVOD (Near Video on Demand) digital radio and interactive services that required their own menus to allow viewers to browse content, make viewing or listening choices and complete an electronic payment.  

The DVB digital TV standard adopted in most of the world offers the most basic form of on-screen programme information, providing title of the current and next program, and a mini-synopsis of the content of those programs.

NDS OpenTV EPG's from around the world which are deployed on Newscorp owned, or part-owned platforms operate in the same way and follow the same design paradigms as we can see from these three examples.



Sky Italia EPG

Sky Italia NDS EPG

Foxtel EPG

Foxtel NDS EPG

Around the world, most Pay TV operators chose to provide a more comprehensive seven day guide offering through their own custom-built EPG applications, and built to their own design and brand values. Some of the early EPG's were simple 'list' based EPGs, following the European newspaper TV listings paradigm of vertical columns of programme listings (Canalsat, TPS etc) , whilst later deployments adopted the Grid paradigm from the US. (As seen with all NDS EPGs e.g. BSkyB, Sky Italia, Foxtel).

In some 'horizontal' markets where the operator was not responsible for the such as digital satellite TV in Germany or 'Freeview' Digital Terrestrial TV in the UK, each guide application has been the responsibility of the set-top-vendor, providing a standard DVB application as part of the basic feature-set of the box. In these markets, broadcasters have used DVB standards to provide 3-8 days of listings information, but the experience is different on each box.

These markets are the exception and most operators in Europe and the US have chosen OpenTV or other middlewares to create their own guide applications in-house or with the assistance of various guide application developers.

OpenTV-based guides in deployment around the world include Dish Network (USA) BSkyB (UK) ExpressVu (Canada) Multichoice Africa (Sub Saharan and South Africa) Nova (Greece) Sky Italia (Italy) Viasat (Scandinavia) TPS (France) Digiturk (Turkey) Foxtel (Australia) Austar (Australia) Starhub (Singapore). In the late 1990s the Canal Plus group saw its own Mediahighway middleware and guide products licensed to operators such as Canal Satellite (France) Canal Digital (Scandinavia) Digital+ / Canal Satelite (Spain) and Cyfra+ (Poland.)

Foxtel Customer Communications

Foxtel EPG Customer Communications
 (Foxtel Magazine)

Except for the arrival of the PVR (Personal Video Recorder) or DVR (Digital Video Recorder) there has been little change in the fundamental principles of EPG design in the last ten years.

However, with the ever-increasing array of content now available from both TV and the web, and with the proliferation of devices, big changes are ahead as advanced guide products begin to be introduced that incorporate more sophisticated forms of search and personalisation.


Help Guide for Canalsat's Standard (Non-PVR) Terminal