On-line TV Guide Preview Button
Original Publication Date: 2001-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-17
This invention adds a preview feature to the on-line TV guide commonly available to subscribers of television services who use television set top boxes which provide television signals and channel options into the attached television set. When the new Preview Button is pressed it will show the television viewer a preview of the movie or show in question. The mechanism to implement this invention is to use the same bandwidth used today to download on-line TV guide information, with the addition that previews will also be downloaded, saved and associated with entries in the on-line guide. When the user comes across one of these entries in the guide, he or she will know there is a preview for the program by some indication in the on-line guide. When this entry has "focus" the user can activate the preview by pressing a button on the remote that is used for this purpose. Where bandwidth and storage are limited, the preferred embodiment is to have only so many previews on the box at a given time and round robin through them. So the preview of interest may or may not be available, but the user can request to be notified when the preview is downloaded and is available. An indication is also given in the on-line guide to indicate that a preview is available. An improvement on the above embodiment is to determine which previews are kept based on viewer history. The set-top box can save previews for certain shows longer (or in some cases less) if the user has watched this show or similar shows in the past. Rules would be configured to determine when to save the preview. For example, a rule may be that if you have watched program A, then save the preview for program B if they are in the same television series. The historical information needed is limited to the show itself and not a particular episode.