RIP, TV Guide on TV

What a week it has been. First DIRECTV stops its once-popular News Mix, and now comes news that the built-in TV Guide-branded electronic program guide service is winding down immediately. TV Guide Channel will still continue, as will the print edition, but Rovi, owners of the TV Guide trademark for use in electronic program guides, has informed its partners that the TV Guide service is stopping immediately.

In the mid-2000s, Rovi’s progenitor Macrovision (best known for the heinous copy protection used on VHS tapes) started offering TV Guide as a software feature in high end televisions. This feature initially required participation from local PBS stations to broadcast guide data; in later days they pulled from a station’s own PSIP feed.

While TV Guide never approached the popularity that its in-print predecessor once had, there were at one time or another quite a few TV-Guide-equipped televisions. The feature was especially popular for VCRs which had migrated from using simple codes in the print edition to being able to process electronic program guide data for themselves. Most notably, DISH used the service in its line of DTVPAL converter boxes.

Alas, TV Guide on TV was eclipsed by the electronic program guides provided by a new generation of smarter cable and satellite boxes, and by TVs that directly interpreted PSIP themselves. The internet provided another nail or two in the coffin; ironically tvguide.com (unaffiliated with Rovi) and other providers of online guides like titantv.com made onscreen guides less important for antenna viewers and those with home-built home theater PCs.

According to engadget, TV Guide’s broadcast affiliates, most of them PBS stations, will be completely winding down their use of the service by April 2013, with most shuttering long before that.