Verizon FiOS Guide Update Rolls On (With Ads)

Mari Silbey —  January 28, 2014

VerizonFiosIMG1-9-5

There was a time when we celebrated Verizon FiOS guide updates. But the IMG 1.9.5 release gives us little cause for joy. The updated guide has been rolling out since last year, but it just arrived here at Chez Silbey, and comments on the DSLReports forums show that the version release has been making its way across parts of New York State in the last few weeks as well.

Although there are some minor feature updates in the new interface, the one really noticeable difference is a new ad bar at the bottom of the guide screen. In my market, I see only a Verizon logo splashed across the page, but in other regions there are actual ads appearing, like the Disney banner shown above. The injection of ads was inevitable, but it’s still disappointing as it clutters up the display. More importantly, it’s irritating when the additional ads don’t come with any major feature improvements. Personally I’m not that excited about being able to turn off parental controls for a four-hour period of time. And while it’s nice that people with multiple DVRs can now schedule recordings on a different set-top in the house, that particular feature doesn’t apply to my one-TV home.

Verizon invested significant resources in UI development in the early years of FiOS TV. The company brought us cover art for on-demand titles, IP-based widgets (apps ahead of their time), and a “What’s Hot” recommendation list showing what other viewers in the region are watching. Since at least 2011, however, Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.

Fortunately, there’s cause for hope.

Verizon recently picked up the remnants of Intel’s OnCue TV service. While the deal made very little sense to me on many fronts, the one major advantage I saw from Verizon’s perspective was the acquisition of new software assets and developer expertise. As the company makes its switch to all-IP delivery, I hope the OnCue takeover brings about a guide revolution as well. FiOS needs it.

14 responses to Verizon FiOS Guide Update Rolls On (With Ads)

  1. I won’t hold my breath for actual improvements in the FiOS interface anymore. They’ve reached cable co maturity, stopped expanding FiOS, and seem like they have little incentive to innovate. Also, where’s the DVR server they promised last summer?

    I still like it, especially compared to Cox which is our other option. For now.

  2. Yeah, I think they realized that investing hundreds of employees on IMG doesn’t lead to high returns. Maybe they should just license TiVo and be done with it while they tinker with OnCue and Redbox Instant.

  3. Well doesn’t that make pause ads look unintrusive.

  4. Nah, this may be obnoxious (and seen years ago from Comcast) but it remains on the periphery. Pause menu ads are layered over top of television content, which strikes me as crossing a line.

  5. I agree, Dave. That’s the only gripe I have with the Roamio. The pause ad seems to have gotten BIGGER than they were on the Premiere! Placing the banner ads at the bottom of the screen is more tolerable than placing them right in my face.

  6. “The pause ad seems to have gotten BIGGER than they were on the Premiere! Placing the banner ads at the bottom of the screen is more tolerable than placing them right in my face.”

    How long until some DVR starts using fullscreen video+audio ads during pause?

  7. I was a (relatively) early TiVo adopter, but I’ve never been able to justify paying the TiVo subscription fee on top of whatever cable card fee I’d have to pay, so it’s been many years that I’ve been using cable company DVRs (currently Fios.) The one feature I still miss was TiVo’s recommendations, and the ability to have it simply record things you might be interested in, or set up potential future recordings when something isn’t currently available in the schedule data. Has anyone else cloned these features?

  8. I disagree completely about the ads. Pause ads don’t really bother. I just pressed pause because I don’t want to see what’s on the screen. And if I do want to see the screen, one clear button press and it’s all gone and I can see the screen.

    This actually utilizes usable screen real estate for ads during a time where I could have otherwise seen more channel listings. And there’s no way to remove it by pressing the clear button. That’s much worse in my opinion.

  9. “I disagree completely about the ads. Pause ads don’t really bother. I just pressed pause because I don’t want to see what’s on the screen. And if I do want to see the screen, one clear button press and it’s all gone and I can see the screen.”

    You, good sir, with all due respect, are nuts.

    Pause ads are the worst, because they take the viewer out of the immersion into the current program.

    Now Playing ads are second worst, because you want to look at your recordings and deepen your immersion.

    Top level / guide ads are least worst, because you’re not immersed in anything at all at the time. You’re in a completely un-immersed part of the UI.

    But I do agree with you that the Clear button trick is a nice feature of the TiVo. I’ve got it programmed in my muscle memory to hit pause/clear in one motion. Now, as to why I’ve decided to sign up for Carbonite service for my Smart Toaster is another question. But on the other hand, it’s nice that when the toaster blows a fuse, I can restore my bread to pristine freshness…

  10. ensaburnur, Yes the new pause menu ads are larger. Making matters worse at first was some rendering issue which made them even more garish. That’s since been corrected, but the units themselves are indeed larger. Sadly, those larger ad units seen on your Roamio have made their way onto the Premiere platform. I assume the TiVo Minis will be similar sullied at some point.

    My FiOS TV contract/dealio is up in August and I assume my rates will go up by at least 50%. If I can’t work a deal, I’m thinking DISH as a possible TiVo/Verizon replacement – they’ve got wireless Joey extenders on the way (and a PS3 app) and the Hopper’s integrated Sling functionality is second to none at this point. My TiVos are a sunk cost, but DISH has some very aggressive promotional pricing. (My wife has also given me the green light to experiment with cutting the cord, but I don’t think we’re there yet.)

  11. “My FiOS TV contract/dealio is up in August and I assume my rates will go up by at least 50%. If I can’t work a deal”

    You can work a deal. Just have the offers from your coax provider and/or DISH ready to provide to FIOS for negotiation. Competition is a wonderful thing. They really don’t want to let that fibre they spent all that money installing go dark. All the MSO’s kowtow to educated consumers, especially currently wired ones. They’ve got a special section of their sales department just for folks who’ve done their homework.

  12. “Pause ads are the worst, because they take the viewer out of the immersion into the current program.”

    At best, this is subjective. For me, if I’ve paused, I’m no longer immersed in the program anyway. I’m probably now getting up to walk away. On the other hand, while in the guide, I’m still interacting with the DVR. I’ve brought up the guide to find something to watch or record, but now I’ve got this banner Ad flickering, distracting me, trying to get noticed. Its like a banner Ad for a Free mobile app, are your trying to get me to buy the “full” version? With cable, I thought I already did.

    To me this is worse than pause Ads because, not only does it disrupt the user experience, it also hampers my ability to accomplish a simple task.

  13. When ads start flickering and bouncing around on my tv screen (station logos and promos included), I get annoyed to high heaven. I don’t mind ads, just the ones that distract you and get “in your face”. I realize that they are important, but when you start distracting me from the tv program, you’re crossing the line. Then couple that with the fact that you’re showed me ads over and over for a product that I have no interest in and it get even worse.
    I sure hope they don’t start doing this stuff with the iPad app.

  14. I left Comcast years ago when they added ads to the Guide. I am tired of being bombarded with ads. On the internet I can understand, I get services for free. With FIOS I pay for services, I don’t want ads. I don’t like having to press an extra button to clear the screen or the reduction in lines in the guide. Both are annoying. Unfortunately, not many other choices short of abandoning cable/DISH/FIOS all together in favor of Hulu, Netflix and etc…. Or watching less TV. I have all the premium channels, I will show some protest by cancelling some or all.