TWC EVP Stern Wants Netflix, Facebook on Cable Program Guide

If Time Warner Cable EVP Peter Stern gets his way, TV shows and movies from Netflix will be displayed on TWC channel 952, and Facebook will be on channel 951.

headshot-peter-stern-2015Stern, TWC’s chief product, people and strategy officer, envisions interactive program guides that display both linear TV and “supplemental over-the-top” video content, according to a patent published on Tuesday.

“Channel 952 is a third selectable channel viewing option that corresponds to an auxiliary channel (e.g., an over-the-top channel) from which to access over-the-top content available from a third content sponsor such as Netflix,” TWC states in the patent, titled, “Multi-option Sourcing of Content and Interactive Television.”

Stern is named as inventor on the patent, which TWC filed in March 2013.

Abstract: A content manager receives a request to display a content guide of available content. In response to receiving the request, the content manager initiates display of the content guide on a display screen. In the displayed content guide, the content manager initiates display of multiple selectable content viewing options. A first selectable channel viewing option of the multiple content viewing options can be configured to correspond to a television channel from which to view content originating from a content sponsor. A second channel viewing option of the multiple content viewing options can be configured to correspond to an auxiliary channel with respect to the television channel from which to access available over-the-top content associated with the content originating from the content sponsor. Accordingly, a user can be easily notified of the availability of content on a television channel and over-the-top content associated with the television channel.

Patent

Claims:

  1. A method comprising: receiving a request to display a content guide of available content; in response to receiving the request, initiating display of the content guide on a display screen; and in the displayed content guide, initiating simultaneous display of multiple selectable channel viewing options including a first selectable channel viewing option and a second selectable channel viewing option, the first selectable channel viewing option corresponding to a television channel from which to retrieve and view respective content originating from a content sponsor, the second selectable channel viewing option corresponding to an auxiliary channel with respect to the television channel from which to retrieve and view available supplemental over-the-top content associated with the respective content originating from the content sponsor, the content guide indicating multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option that are scheduled for distribution over the television channel at different times, the content guide further indicating that the supplemental over-the-top content is associated with the multiple programs and is available over the auxiliary channel at the different times; wherein initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: initiating display of the first selectable channel viewing option and the second selectable channel viewing option in columnar form in the content guide, the first selectable channel viewing option residing in a first row of the content guide, the first row of the content guide including a title for each of multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option, the second selectable channel viewing option residing in a second row of the content guide, the second row of the content guide including a description of the supplemental content associated with the second selectable channel viewing option; wherein the first selectable channel viewing option includes a channel identifier value assigned to the television channel; and wherein the second selectable channel viewing option includes: i) the channel identifier value assigned to the television channel, and ii) a text-based symbol indicating that the second selectable channel viewing option represents the auxiliary channel for retrieving the supplemental over-the-top content.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein initiating simultaneous display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: for the first selectable channel viewing option, initiating display of a first notification specifying the respective content, the first notification indicating that the respective content is available in a scheduled time slot of the television channel; and for the second selectable channel viewing option, initiating display of a second notification specifying availability of the supplemental over-the-top content via the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: responsive to receiving selection of the first selectable channel viewing option: tuning to the television channel, the television channel received on a shared communication link of a cable network; decoding a video signal received on the television channel; and rendering video derived from the video signal on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 3 further comprising: while rendering the video derived from the video signal on the display screen, receiving input from a respective user selecting to view the supplemental over-the-top content available over the auxiliary channel; and in response to receiving the input, retrieving a menu of content viewing options; and displaying a rendition of the menu of content viewing options on the display screen, each of the content viewing options in the menu corresponding to different content available from the content sponsor over the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 4 further comprising: in accordance with control input received from a user viewing the display screen, toggling between retrieving and displaying the respective content and the supplemental over-the-top content on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 5 further comprising: storing portions of the respective content received over the television channel while the control input indicates to display a rendition of the supplemental over-the-top content on the display screen; and in response to detecting that the user switches back to viewing the respective content on the television channel after viewing the supplemental over-the-top content on the display screen, initiating display of the stored portions of the respective content for viewing by the user.
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: responsive to receiving selection of the second selectable channel viewing option: obtaining a network address, the network address indicating a server resource from which to retrieve a home page of the content sponsor; utilizing the network address to communicate with the server resource over the auxiliary channel to retrieve the home page.
  1. The method as in claim 7 further comprising: transmitting a content request message over the auxiliary channel to retrieve display information generated by the content sponsor; receiving the display information over the auxiliary channel from the server resource; and rendering the display information on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 8, wherein rendering the display information includes: as specified by the display information, initiating display of a set of selectable content viewing options on the display screen, the set of selectable content viewing options specifying different content available for selection and retrieval over the auxiliary channel from the content sponsor; and in response to selection of a particular selectable content viewing option from the set, initiating a communication over the auxiliary channel to the server resource to retrieve content as specified by the particular selectable content viewing option.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein receiving the request to display the content guide includes: receiving the request from a subscriber in a cable network environment, the subscriber having access to the television channel and the supplemental over-the-top content via a shared communication link in the cable network environment, the shared communication link supporting distribution of content to multiple subscribers in the cable network environment, a first portion of bandwidth in the shared communication link allocated to broadcast the respective content to the subscriber, a second portion of the bandwidth in the shared communication link allocated to convey the supplemental over-the-top content to the subscriber.
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: in response to receiving selection of the first selectable channel viewing option, rendering the respective content received over the television channel on the display screen; while displaying a rendition of the respective content received over the television channel, receiving a command to display a menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options available from the content sponsor over the auxiliary channel; and in response to receiving the command, initiating display of the menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options, each of the selectable over-the-top content viewing options in the menu corresponding to different retrievable content available for display on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 11, wherein initiating display of the menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options includes: rendering the menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options as a picture-in-picture in which the menu is overlaid on the respective content rendered from the television channel.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein the content sponsor originates the supplemental over-the-top con
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options in accordance with a numerical channel sequence, each numerical channel value in the numerical channel sequence specifying a corresponding channel from which to retrieve available content; in the first selectable channel viewing option displayed in the content guide, initiating display of a first unique channel value from the numerical channel sequence, the first unique channel value assigned to the television channel; and in the second selectable channel viewing option displayed in the content guide, initiating display of a second unique channel value from the numerical channel sequence, the second unique channel value assigned to the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 14, wherein the first unique channel value includes an integer value assigned to the television channel from which the respective content is available; and wherein the second unique channel value includes a first portion and a second portion, the first portion of the second unique channel value including the integer value assigned to the television channel.
  1. The method as in claim 15, wherein the second portion of the second unique channel value includes a sequence of text indicating that the supplemental over-the-top content associated with the respective content is available over the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 15, wherein the second portion of the second unique channel value includes a sequence of text indicating that the supplemental over-the-top content associated with the respective content is supplemental content associated with the television channel.
  1. The method as in claim 16 further comprising: responsive to receiving selection of the second unique channel value: mapping the second unique channel value to a respective network address, the network address indicating a server resource from which to retrieve the supplemental over-the-top content for retrieval and viewing; and utilizing the network address to communicate with the server resource over the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 18 further comprising: responsive to receiving selection of the first unique channel value: tuning to the television channel, the television channel received on a shared communication link of a cable network, the television channel being a broadcast channel; decoding a video signal received on the television channel; and rendering video derived from the video signal on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 18, wherein utilizing the network address to communicate with the server resource over the auxiliary channel includes: transmitting a content request message over the auxiliary channel to retrieve the supplemental over-the-top content; receiving the supplemental over-the-top content over the auxiliary channel from the server resource; and rendering the supplemental over-the-top content on the display screen.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein receiving the request to display the content guide includes: receiving the request from a subscriber in a cable network environment, the subscriber having access to the television channel and the auxiliary channel via a shared communication link in the cable network environment, the shared communication link supporting distribution of content to multiple subscribers in the cable network environment, a first portion of bandwidth in the shared communication link allocated to convey the respective content as broadcast content over the television channel, a second portion of the bandwidth in the shared communication link allocated to convey the supplemental over-the-top content originating from the content sponsor to the subscriber over the auxiliary channel.
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: responsive to receiving selection of the second selectable channel viewing option: obtaining a network address assigned to a server resource from which the supplemental over-the-top content is available, the supplemental over-the-top content representing a home page of the content sponsor; and utilizing the network address to communicate with the server resource over the auxiliary channel and retrieve the home page of the content sponsor.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein initiating simultaneous display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options comprises: initiating display of a first rendition of a symbol indicative of and assigned to the content sponsor, the display of the first rendition of the symbol associating the first selectable channel viewing option to the content sponsor; and initiating display of a second rendition of the symbol indicative of and assigned to the content sponsor, the display of the second rendition of the symbol associating the second selectable channel viewing option to the supplemental over-the-top content and the content sponsor.
  1. The method as in claim 1, wherein initiating simultaneous display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options comprises: initiating display of a channel number assigned to the television channel, the display of the channel number associating the first selectable channel viewing option to the television channel; and initiating display of the channel number and supplemental text to indicate that the second selectable channel viewing option and the supplemental over-the-top content are associated with the television channel.
  1. The method as in claim 1 further comprising: on the display screen, initiating playback of the respective content received over the television channel, the respective content received as a video stream; receiving input to retrieve and playback the supplemental over-the-top content on the display screen in lieu of playing back the respective content on the display screen; in response to receiving the input, storing a pointer pointing to a location in the respective video stream corresponding to a time at which the input indicated to retrieve and playback the supplemental over-the-top content from the auxiliary channel; and upon switchover back to viewing the video stream, initiating playback of the video stream at the location as specified by the pointer.
  1. A computer system comprising: at least one processor device; and a hardware storage resource coupled to the at least one processor device, the hardware storage resource storing instructions that, when executed by the at least one processor device, cause the at least one processor device to perform operations of: receiving a request to display a content guide of available content; in response to receiving the request, initiating display of the content guide on a display screen; and in the displayed content guide, initiating display of multiple selectable channel viewing options including: i) a first selectable channel viewing option representing a television channel from which to view respective content provided by a content sponsor, and ii) a second selectable channel viewing option representing an auxiliary channel with respect to the television channel from which to retrieve and view available supplemental content associated with the respective content originating from the content sponsor, the content guide indicating multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option that are scheduled for distribution over the television channel at different times, the content guide further indicating supplemental content associated with the multiple programs available over the auxiliary channel at the different times: wherein initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: initiating display of the first selectable channel viewing option and the second selectable channel viewing option in columnar form in the content guide, the first selectable channel viewing option residing in a first row of the content guide, the first row of the content guide including a title for each of the multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option, the second selectable channel viewing option residing in a second row of the content guide, the second row of the content guide including a description of the supplemental content associated with the second selectable channel viewing option; wherein the first selectable channel viewing option includes a channel identifier value assigned to the television channel; and wherein the second selectable channel viewing option includes: i) the channel identifier value assigned to the television channel, and ii) a text-based symbol indicating that the second selectable channel viewing option represents the auxiliary channel for retrieving the supplemental content as over-the-top content.
  1. The computer system as in claim 26, wherein initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: for the first selectable channel viewing option, initiating display of a first notification specifying playable content available in a scheduled time slot of the television channel; and for the second selectable channel viewing option, initiating display of a second notification specifying availability of the supplemental content via the auxiliary channel.
  1. The computer system as in claim 26, wherein the at least one processor device further supports operations of: responsive to receiving selection of the second selectable channel viewing option: mapping an identity of the content sponsor to a network address, the network address indicating a server resource from which to retrieve a home page of the content sponsor; and utilizing the network address to communicate with the server resource over the auxiliary channel.
  1. The computer system as in claim 28, wherein the at least one processor device further supports operations of: transmitting a content request message over the auxiliary channel to retrieve display information generated by the content sponsor; receiving the display information over the auxiliary channel from the server resource; and rendering the display information on the display screen.
  1. The computer system as in claim 29, wherein rendering the display information includes: as specified by the display information, initiating display of a set of selectable content viewing options on the display screen, the set of selectable content viewing options specifying different content available for selection and retrieval over the auxiliary channel; and in response to selection of a particular selectable content viewing option from the set, initiating a communication over the auxiliary channel to the server resource to retrieve content as specified by the particular selectable content viewing option.
  1. The computer system as in claim 26, wherein the at least one processor device further supports operations of: in response to receiving selection of the first selectable channel viewing option, rendering content received over the television channel on the display screen; while displaying the respective content received over the television channel, receiving a command to display a menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options available from the content sponsor; and in response to receiving the command, initiating display of the menu of selectable over-the-top content viewing options.
  1. The computer system as in claim 26, wherein the supplemental content includes first supplemental content and second supplemental content, the first supplemental content assigned to a first playback time in a first program of the multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option, the second supplemental content assigned to a second playback time in the first program.
  1. The computer system as in claim 26, wherein initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: initiating display of the first selectable channel viewing option and the second selectable channel viewing option in columnar form in the content guide; the first selectable channel viewing option residing in a first row of the content guide, the first row of the content guide including a title for each of the multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option; and the second selectable channel viewing option residing in a second row of the content guide, the second row of the content guide including a description of the supplemental content associated with the second selectable channel viewing option.
  1. The computer system as in claim 33, wherein the first selectable channel viewing option includes a channel identifier value assigned to the television channel; and wherein the second selectable channel viewing option includes: i) the channel identifier value assigned to the television channel, and ii) a text-based symbol indicating that the second selectable channel viewing option represents the auxiliary channel for retrieving the supplemental content as over-the-top content.
  1. The computer system as in claim 34, wherein the supplemental content includes first supplemental content and second supplemental content, the first supplemental content pertaining to a first playable portion of a first program of the multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option, the second supplemental content pertaining to a second playable portion of the first program.
  1. Computer-readable storage hardware having instructions stored thereon, the instructions, when carried out by a processing device, causes the processing device to perform operations of: receiving a request to display a content guide of available content; in response to receiving the request, initiating display of the content quide on a display screen; and in the displayed content guide, initiating simultaneous display of multiple selectable channel viewing options includinq a first selectable channel viewing option and a second selectable channel viewing option, the first selectable channel viewing option corresponding to a television channel from which to retrieve and view respective content originating from a content sponsor, the second selectable channel viewing option corresponding to an auxiliary channel with respect to the television channel from which to retrieve and view available supplemental over-the top content associated with the respective content originating from the content sponsor, the content guide indicating multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option that are scheduled for distribution over the television channel at different times, the content guide further indicating that the supplemental over-the-top content is associated with the multiple programs and is available over the auxiliary channel at the different times; wherein initiating display of the multiple selectable channel viewing options includes: initiating display of the first selectable channel viewing option and the second selectable channel viewing option in columnar form in the content guide, the first selectable channel viewing option residing in a first row of the content guide, the first row of the content guide including a title for each of multiple programs associated with the first selectable channel viewing option, the second selectable channel viewing option residing in a second row of the content guide, the second row of the content guide including a description of the supplemental content associated with the second selectable channel viewing option; wherein the first selectable channel viewing option includes a channel identifier value assigned to the television channel; and wherein the second selectable channel viewing option includes: i) the channel identifier value assigned to the television channel, and ii) a text-based symbol indicating that the second selectable channel viewing option represents the auxiliary channel for retrieving the supplemental over-the-top content.