Guide Plus+ (in Europe), TV Guide On Screen and Guide Plus+ Gold (in Northern America) or G-Guide (in Japan) is an interactive electronic programme guide (EPG) system that is used in consumer electronics products, such as television sets, DVD recorders, personal video recorders, and other digital television devices. It offers interactive on-screen programme listings that enable viewers to navigate, sort, select, and schedule television programming for viewing and recording. The differing names are only for marketing purposes—the entire system is owned by Rovi Corporation, the successor to Gemstar-TV Guide International.
In late 2012, Rovi issued a notice to North American viewers through the 'Guide Plus+', 'TV Guide On Screen', and 'Rovi Guide' message system that the broadcast transmission of the service would be ended, starting in November 2012 and completed by April 2013.
How it works
It was launched in the United States and Japan in the mid-1990s, and is now being deployed throughout Europe. It is available in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the UK, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.
The updated programme listings are provided to users free-of-charge, regardless of whether they receive their television signal from an over-the-air (OTA) broadcast or via cable TV or Satellite TV. The service is supported by advertising.
The original analog TV service uses the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of host television stations that datacast the service, similar to the way closed captioning and teletext are broadcast. This can take 24 hours to download on initial setup because the information is sent at a low bitrate.
The digital service was launched in the United States in 2006, using the ATSC digital television standard. While this significantly improved the service, older systems are no longer able to download listings as of the digital television transition which occurred on June 12, 2009.
The Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP) within the ATSC standard allows for each station to send out its own EPG information, and in the U.S. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires stations to do so for OTA, but not cable, unless they are rebroadcasting an OTA station that provides the PSIP data. However, actual implementation is rather spotty, and usually minimal; stations often don't have full descriptions or even correct information on the current show, much less the next three hours required of them, or the 16 days' worth of guide information that can be transmitted. Additionally, ATSC tuners are not required to show the EPG, only the very limited information for the current show on the current channel.
While the TV Guide service also requires software in the TV or other device, and licensing fees or royalties to be paid to Rovi, it also offers a more complete solution for broadcast television, more like digital satellite or digital cable.
The following brands have compatible products:
- Channel Master
- Matsushita (Panasonic)
- Thomson (RCA, GE, and ProScan)
- LG Group
Gemstar also produced EPG computer software bundled with analog NTSC TV tuner cards made by ATI Technologies, particularly the TV Wonder and All-in-Wonder lines. ATI switched to rival TitanTV for its digital ATSC cards, however.