Time Warner Cable has announced that it is beta-testing a new digital channel line-up in Syracuse, New York.
"This is a big deal for us, and a sign of things to come," said TWC's Andrew Russell, in a blog.
The new line-up allows customers to find the channels they want to watch by grouping channels together by themes. So, in the case of Syracuse, what this means is that channels 1-99 will stay the same, entertainment-themed channels will be in the 100s, news and info in the 200s, kids and teens in the 250s, sports in the 300s and premiums in the 500s.
"This is in direct response to feedback we've received from you, our customers," Russell said. "One challenge facing us today is, with the increasing amount of content options available, it's more incumbent on us to provide customers with a way to tune out the noise so they can find exactly what they're looking for. We're often asked things like, 'Why is CNBC World sandwiched between The Cooking Channel and Discovery Fit & Health?' Or, 'Why are C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3 on channels 16, 98 and 149, respectively?'"
By grouping channels by genre, TWC is hoping to make it more intuitive for customers to navigate their favourite programming while at the same time making it easier for the MSO to add new channels and video-on-demand (VOD) content across markets.
One big change with this format is that high definition programming will display automatically. So, instead of finding all HD channels grouped in, say, the 700s, subscribers will automatically see the HD feed if there is an HD set-top box present. Likewise, customers with a standard definition box will see only the SD programming.
"If you're like me, and you're used to scrolling only the channels in the HD tier, this will require a change in habit," Russell said. "But it makes sense because it means, in essence, you'll always get the best picture available, no matter what channel you're on."
If the Upstate New York beta test goes well, TWC will start to roll this out in other markets later this year, ultimately launching this across all of its cable systems.