Here’s something that’s existed for quite a few years now but might finally reach the Irish television market this year: a “backwards EPG”.
The function allows viewers to scroll back through their electronic programme guides (EPGs), usually for up to a week, and watch some or all of the programmes listed.
UPC Ireland has revealed plans to launch "Replay TV", which will include a backwards EPG, in the summer or early autumn of this year.
Meanwhile, last year’s tender documents for Saorview Connected, RTÉ’s planned digital terrestrial television and broadband hybrid, “envisaged” that the service, due later in 2015, would include backwards EPG functionality, “providing easy click-through access to catch-up content from media players”.
But given so much of what is worth watching is available via on-demand services and the Irish broadcasters’ catch-up players already, what’s so great about a backwards EPG anyway?
For broadcasters, backwards EPGs serve to maintain a link between on-demand and linear channel viewing, effectively by merging the two in a single interface.
And for viewers, as the Saorview Connected tender suggests, it boils down to even easier access to missed programmes.
But the attraction of any backwards EPG will increase exponentially if the seven-day catch-up function within it also applies to content from the main UK channels whose on- demand players do not currently sit on Irish television platforms.