From The Desk Of The President--Comcast's New Talking Channel Guide Speaks Volumes For Listing Discovery

from the desk of the president comcast talking channel guide
And now, a word from the President and CEO of FYI, Christopher Stark.

We at FYI Television recently became aware of a revolutionary effort by Comcast that not only represents the best of what technology can do for those with disabilities—it’s also pioneering the industry for everyone.

Because, it’s our feeling that Comcast’s Talking TV Guide for the disabled has permutations that will impact the way guides are used for all consumers.

Here’s a quick summary of what Comcast is up to.

They established an “accessibility team” headed by a blind individual who wanted to make a more effective guide for those who can’t see—but who would like to enjoy the great content in today’s popular programs that they can hear.

Imagine it. This gentleman—Tom Wlodkowski of Comcast—had taken to memorizing the order of channels and identifying programs by the voices of actors or news anchors within them. So, to him, the guide was completely unusable. He had to create one in his own head.

Not content to settle for that, Mr. Wlodkowski (and Comcast) embarked on a working version of a Talking Channel Guide—that they now intend to launch fully in 2014.

The benefits of this capability to those with disabilities who cannot use a guide are obvious. Now, they’ll be able to use the spoken word to get the same full and robust informed content that sighted consumers now experience with their Electronic Program Guide.

Innovations like this are important to the industry for a variety of reasons. First, it allows those with disabilities to more easily participate in the booming popular culture that surrounds television. Second, it pushes the technology in ways that we can all benefit from.

The notion of a spoken Electronic Program Guide is one that could appeal to all consumers. It would allow consumers simply speak and hear options while doing other things—rather than stopping down to interact with a guide.

But there are other reasons we at FYI are excited about the Comcast’s new initiative led by Mr. Wlodkowski. And they all relate to the future of entertainment information—and the dedication we’ve paid to our data.

We’re excited about projects like this because of the vast and appropriate classifications on our data. Let’s face it, if you’ve got generic show descriptions like “Shows” or “Interests” you’re likely to not even have a viewer use THOSE words for a search. It’s just not the vernacular of how people describe programs.

But, if you’ve got multiple appropriate and accurate descriptors, you’ve opened up even more points of engagement that can aid someone in finding the program they’re looking for. Robust data had robust results.

Because of the diligence and innovation we’ve poured into our data for over a decade, we’re positioned to help companies develop new and innovative technologies like the Talking Guide for a variety of reasons:
Multiple categories and genres. Because a person speaking to a talking guide—as in the case of Comcast’s offering, or Cicso’s new product—will use their own vernacular, multiple categories and genres are essential to relate to requests like “Make me laugh” instead of “film comedy.”
Deep, well-written, and vivid descriptions. Descriptions must now carry the water of informing in granular detail for hipper, more entertainment hungry audiences—as well as informing those without sight. No description or the bare bones won’t suffice in the digital age.
Persistent IDs that span plaforms & databases. Our guiding IDs are capable of second party verification or being the standard for merged databases of TV data. So no matter how you incorporate the data, our singular IDs are a bannister for a clean line of program content.
Rich Media content mastery. Although the image portion of rich media doesn’t affect those without sight, the linking properties do. And, in the new digital world, the vastness of FYI’s rich media library becomes an indispensable asset for entertainment savvy developers.
App, tablet, and mobile friendly. We’re especially proud of this aspect of FYI—one that’s growing by the second. We’ve formatted our data for ease of use on app, tablet, and mobile platforms alike. And, in partnership with AT&T, we’re now experiencing over a billion hits per month with our data over their app, mobile, tablet, onscreen, and online offerings.

In the digital future, data will not be a commodity. Because there is a decided difference in data that has been formatted with an editorial standard that speaks in vernacular for viewers, is abundantly searchable along numerous terms, and is flexible enough to accommodate any platform. That’s why we take such pride in the data we provide.

FYI is committed to partnering with companies wanting data and service that really is qualitatively a cut above the rest—and we salute Comcast, and Mr. Wlodkowski’s team—for innovating in such an intelligent and purposeful manner.
                                                                                                                     Christopher S. Stark, Sr.
                                                                                                                     President & CEO
                                                                                                                     FYI Television


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