RealTime IT News

AOL and Gemstar Team For Interactive TV Pact

America Online, Inc. and Gemstar International Group Ltd. Tuesday said they entered into long-term licensing agreement under which AOL will use Gemstar's technology and intellectual property to develop and deploy electronic programming guides for AOL TV.

An AOL spokesperson declined to give financial terms and the specific length of the contract, calling it "a multi-year" agreement. AOL TV is slated for launch sometime next year.

With the Gemstar license, AOL said it plans to launch development of its own customized electronic programming guides for AOL TV which will integrate interactive navigation features. The guides are aimed at allowing AOL members to sort programs by themes or categories in choosing shows for viewing or recording. The AOL interactive service on the television platform is to include key portions of AOL's current functionality and will also introduce several new features.

AOL said set-top boxes will initially be connected to AOL through built-in 56kbps modems over standard phone lines and can be upgraded to "always on" high-speed connectivity.

Today's agreement is in addition to several deals AOL announced earlier in the month with DIRECTV, Hughes Network Systems, Philips Electronics and Network Computer, Inc. (NCI).

"Gemstar's technology will help AOL TV offer the best in interactive navigation for the television experience and will be a key component of the AOL TV service," said Bob Pittman, AOL president and COO.

"The programming guide we develop will allow our members to check programs by category -- such as sports or movies -- and then switch directly to the show or record it with a few clicks of their remote controls. This is the kind of convenience and ease-of-use that mass market consumers expect from AOL."