WO2004064377A2 - Systems and methods for providing parental control of vod programming - Google Patents

Systems and methods for providing parental control of vod programming Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2004064377A2
WO2004064377A2 PCT/US2004/000851 US2004000851W WO2004064377A2 WO 2004064377 A2 WO2004064377 A2 WO 2004064377A2 US 2004000851 W US2004000851 W US 2004000851W WO 2004064377 A2 WO2004064377 A2 WO 2004064377A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
user
demand
programming
video
particular video
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2004/000851
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2004064377A3 (en
Inventor
Michael D. Ellis
Todd A. Walker
Original Assignee
United Video Properties, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US44007503P priority Critical
Priority to US60/440,075 priority
Application filed by United Video Properties, Inc. filed Critical United Video Properties, Inc.
Publication of WO2004064377A2 publication Critical patent/WO2004064377A2/en
Publication of WO2004064377A3 publication Critical patent/WO2004064377A3/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/45Management operations performed by the client for facilitating the reception of or the interaction with the content or administrating data related to the end-user or to the client device itself, e.g. learning user preferences for recommending movies, resolving scheduling conflicts
    • H04N21/4508Management of client or end-user data
    • H04N21/4532Management of client or end-user data involving end-user characteristics, e.g. viewer profile, preferences
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/472End-user interface for requesting content, additional data or services; End-user interface for interacting with content, e.g. for content reservation or setting reminders, for requesting event notification, for manipulating displayed content
    • H04N21/47202End-user interface for requesting content, additional data or services; End-user interface for interacting with content, e.g. for content reservation or setting reminders, for requesting event notification, for manipulating displayed content for requesting content on demand, e.g. video on demand
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4753End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for user identification, e.g. by entering a PIN or password
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4755End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for defining user preferences, e.g. favourite actors or genre
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/482End-user interface for program selection
    • H04N21/4821End-user interface for program selection using a grid, e.g. sorted out by channel and broadcast time
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/83Generation or processing of protective or descriptive data associated with content; Content structuring
    • H04N21/84Generation or processing of descriptive data, e.g. content descriptors
    • H04N21/8405Generation or processing of descriptive data, e.g. content descriptors represented by keywords
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/162Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing
    • H04N7/163Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing by receiver means only
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/173Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems with two-way working, e.g. subscriber sending a programme selection signal
    • H04N7/17309Transmission or handling of upstream communications
    • H04N7/17318Direct or substantially direct transmission and handling of requests

Abstract

An interactive television program guide application (Figure 24) may allow a user to restrict VOD programming by program type, program, rating, keyword, or any other suitable criteria (298-306). The interactive television program guide application (Figure 24) may allow the user to indicate potentially objectionable keywords to mask (298). The keywords may be selected by the user from predefined groups of words or specifically defined by the user (298). The interactive television program guide application (Figure 24) may further enable the user to access restricted VOD programming or content by supplying valid authorization information (Figure 31). The system may restrict VOD and other content associated with broadcast content that the user has indicated should be restricted.

Description

SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING PARENTAL CONTROL OF VIDEO-ON-DEMAND PROGRAMMING AND ASSOCIATED CONTENT

Background of the Invention

[0001] This invention relates to television systems, and more particularly, this invention relates to an interactive television program guide application that provides parental control of video-on-demand programming associated with television programming and content associated with the television programming and the video-on-demand programming.

[0002] Interactive television systems are known to provide interactive television program guide applications. An interactive television program guide application may be configured to provide a number of interactive features such as television program listings, video-on-demand services, web-browsing services, games, home shopping, and other interactive features, to the user. [0003] In a typical interactive television system, the interactive television program guide application is implemented, using a set-top box. ' The user interacts with the interactive television program guide application, for example, to access video-on-demand programming and associated content, using a remote control.

[0004] In a computer environment, the user accesses an online interactive television program guide application to obtain desired information such as information associated with video-on-demand programming.

[0005] In order to prevent children from viewing potentially objectionable television programming, interactive television program guide applications typically provide the user with certain parental control options for blocking potentially objectionable television broadcast programming. For example, some interactive television program guide applications provide parents with the ability to place a parental control lock on certain television channels. The parental control lock may only be opened by entering a parental control code. Children without access to the parental control code are prevented from viewing the potentially objectionable broadcast programming on the locked channels.

[0006] The majority of current interactive television program guide applications, however, do not prevent children from accessing potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming because such programming is not channel and time specific. Most current interactive television program guide applications also do not provide an effective way for restricting content associated with the broadcast programming or video-on-demand programming.

[0007] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an interactive television program guide application that allows the user to effectively restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming associated with television programming and content associated with the television programming and the video-on-demand programming.

Summary of the Invention

[0008] In accordance with the present invention, an interactive television program guide application is provided that allows the user to effectively restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming associated with television programming and content associated with the television programming and the video-on-demand programming. [0009] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may determine whether television programming that has been blocked using parental control has associated video-on-demand programming or other associated content (e.g., Internet content). In response to making such a determination, the interactive television program guide application may automatically apply parental control restrictions that have been placed upon the television programming to the associated content (e.g., to block the associated content) . For example, the interactive television program guide application may determine that MTV channel, which has been blocked by the user, has associated music videos that are available as video-on- demand. The interactive television program guide application may automatically block access to these associated music videos. In another suitable approach, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to specify additional or separate parental control restrictions that are to be applied to video-on-demand content and other content associated with television programming. [0010] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to apply restrictions to the potentially objectionable video-on- demand programming during parental control configuration. The user may initiate the parental control configuration process, for example, by selecting a configuration option provided by the interactive television program guide application when the user accesses video-on-demand services. In some embodiments of the present invention, parental control criteria may be specified, for example, by highlighting a video-on-demand program on a video-on-demand listing screen, pressing a LOCK key on the remote control, and then selecting from one or more attributes of the selected program to block. [0011] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to activate a parental control feature for restricting video-on- demand programming and content associated with the video-on-demand programming. The interactive television program guide application may also provide an opportunity for the user to customize options associated with the parental control feature. [0012] For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with options for restricting various groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming. The groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming may include, for example, adult-oriented video-on-demand programming, video-on-demand programming associated with TV-MA rating, video-on- demand programming associated with TV-14 rating, or any other suitable groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming.

[0013] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to restrict any potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on-demand programming. The potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on- demand programming may include, for example, information about the video-on-demand programming (e.g., title, description, etc.), interactive content associated with the video-on-demand programming (e.g., interactive games, surveys, etc.), Internet resources associated with the video-on-demand programming, advertisements, broadcast programming associated with the video-on-demand programming, or any other suitable content associated with the video-on-demand programming.

[0014] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to restrict such potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on- demand programming without having to restrict access to the actual video-on-demand programming. For example, the interactive television program guide application may restrict access to information about an actor in a video-on-demand movie while allowing the user to view the video-on-demand movie.

[0015] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to restrict attributes of broadcast programming, and may subsequently apply these restrictions to associated video-on-demand programming. For example, in response to the user instructing the interactive television program guide to restrict R- rated broadcast movies, the interactive television program guide may automatically restrict R-rated video- on-demand programming as well. [0016] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to access additional options for customizing restriction of the potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an option for the user to block video-on-demand programming by program type. The program types may include, for example, music video, action movie, drama movie, comedy, or any other suitable program type. [0017] As another example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to select specific video-on-demand programs to block. The interactive television program guide may, for example, provide a selectable list of available video- on-demand programs to allow the user to select specific programs to block. The interactive television program guide application may further provide sorting options to allow the user to sort the selectable list of available video-on-demand programming, for example, by name, by program type, by rating, or by any other suitable criteria.

[0018] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate potentially objectionable keywords to mask, for example, in menus, in screens, or in any other suitable displays. In some of these embodiments, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to choose predefined keywords or keyword groups to mask. Such keyword groups may include, for example, groups of keywords associated with adult content, groups of keywords associated with violent content, groups of keywords that are generally deemed to be unsuitable for children, or any other keyword group.

[0019] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to define specific keywords to mask. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide a textbox or other suitable input interface in which the user may input or otherwise specify keywords that the user would like to mask.

[0020] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to choose ways in which the interactive television program guide application may display or otherwise indicate restricted video-on-demand programming to the user. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may mask any information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content in any menu, screen, or any other suitable display. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may hide all information associated with the restricted video-on-demand programming or content from view. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may provide shading over any information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content. As another example, the interactive television program guide may display a "lock" icon next to the information associated with the restricted video-on-demand programming. In yet another example, the interactive television program guide application may alter the appearance (e.g., dim, strike through) of the information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content.

[0021] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to select the restricted video-on-demand programming or content. In response to the user selecting the restricted video-on- demand programming or content, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user for authorization information. Authorization information may be, for example, a parental control code, a voice authentication command, fingerprint authentication, biometric authentication, or any other suitable authentication information for recognizing the user. A parental control code will be used in the following discussion of the present invention for clarity and brevity. It should be understood that any other suitable authorization information may be used. [0022] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user repeatedly for the authorization information until the user selects alternative options or until valid authorization information is submitted by the user. When valid authorization information is received from the user, the interactive television program guide application may display the previously restricted video-on-demand programming or content to the user. In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide may set a maximum number of attempts that the user may make at entering the authorization information. Once the maximum is reached, the interactive television program guide may lock the user out of all restricted content for a period of time without allowing the user to attempt to enter the authorization information again. [0023] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to select a restricted video-on-demand program, for example, to receive information about the video-on-demand program such as program description information. In some of these embodiments, the interactive television program guide application may replace the potentially objectionable program description or other information about the video-on-demand program with generic replacement information that may, for example, inform the user that the actual program description has been replaced because it may include potentially objectionable content.

[0024] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to access video-on-demand programming or content that is restricted by the parental control feature. The interactive television program guide application may allow such access, for example, upon receiving a correct parental control code or any other suitable authorization information, from the user. The interactive television program guide application may further provide options, for example, to allow the user to sort the restricted video-on-demand programming and content, for example, by name, by program type, by rating, by keyword, or by another suitable characteristic . [0025] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to request additional information associated with the video-on- demand programming that is currently displayed. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide a selectable link for the user to request additional information associated with currently displayed video-on-demand program. Upon receiving such a request from the user, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user to supply, for example, a parental control code or any other suitable authorization information, if the requested information is restricted video-on-demand programming or content. If a correct parental control code or valid authorization information is received, the interactive television program guide application may display the additional information to the user. [0026] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may simplify the parental control setup process by providing the user with an express setup option. In response to the user selecting the express setup option, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to indicate a restriction level. The restriction level may be, for example, a level associated with mature audience (e.g., over 18), teen audience (e.g., between 13 and 17), general audience (e.g., all ages), or any other suitable level. Each of the restriction levels may have a predefined set of parental control settings that may include, for example, predefined ratings that are to be restricted, predefined program types that are to be restricted, predefined programs that are to be restricted, predefined keywords that are to be masked, or any other suitable parental control settings. [0027] When the user selects a restriction level, the interactive television program guide application may use the predefined parental control settings associated with the restriction level to restrict the appropriate video-on-demand programming and content. [0028] As an example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to choose a restriction level that is associated with teen audience. This restriction level may be predefined by the interactive television program guide application to include teens between the age of 13 and 17. The interactive television program guide application may then, for example, restrict R-rated video-on-demand movies, music videos involving nudity, and any other suitable video-on-demand programming and associated content that is predefined to be unsuitable for this audience based on the restriction level. [0029] Further features of the invention, its nature and various advantages will be more apparent from the accompanying drawings and the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments. Brief Description of the Drawings [0030] FIG. 1 is a diagram of an illustrative interactive television system in accordance with the present invention;

[0031] FIG. 2 is a diagram of illustrative user television equipment in accordance with the present invention; [0032] FIG. 3 is a diagram of additional illustrative user television equipment in accordance with the present invention;

[0033] FIG. 4 is a diagram of an illustrative remote control in accordance with the present invention; [0034] FIG. 5 is a diagram of illustrative user computer equipment in accordance with the present invention;

[0035] FIG. 6 is a generalized diagram of illustrative user equipment in accordance with the present invention;

[0036] FIG. 7 shows an illustrative menu screen in accordance with the present invention; [0037] FIG. 8 shows an illustrative program guide screen in accordance with the present invention; [0038] FIG. 9 is an illustrative display screen showing how a flip banner that contains program listings information for the current channel may be displayed as an overlay over video of the current channel in accordance with the present invention; [0039] FIG. 10 is an illustrative display screen showing how a browse banner that contains program listings information for a channel that may differ from the current channel may be displayed as an overlay over video of the current channel in accordance with the present invention;

[0040] FIGS. 11 is an illustrative program guide screen in accordance with the present invention; [0041] FIG. 12 is an illustrative display screen showing how an interactive television application may provide a user1 with an opportunity to set a program reminder in accordance with the present invention; [0042] FIG. 13 is an illustrative display screen showing how a reminder may be provided for a user in accordance with the present invention; [0043] FIG. 14 is a display screen showing an illustrative video-on-demand menu that may be used to select a category of video-on-demand content in accordance with the present invention;

[0044] FIG. 15 is a display screen showing an illustrative video-on-demand menu screen that may be used to locate a desired type of movie in accordance with the present invention; [0045] FIG. 16 shows an illustrative title menu that may be used to select a video-on-demand title of interest in accordance with the present invention; [0046] FIGS. 17a and 17b are illustrative video-on- demand information screens that may be used to access video-on-demand content in accordance with the present invention;

[0047] FIG. 18 is an illustrative display screen showing how video-on-demand playback controls may be displayed while video-on-demand content is being displayed for the user in accordance with the present invention;

[0048] FIGS. 19a and 19b are illustrative display screens showing how a user's scheduled recordings may be presented and selected in an interactive list in accordance with the present invention; [0049] FIGS. 20a and 20b are illustrative display screens showing how a user's recordings may be presented and selected from an interactive list in accordance with the present invention; [0050] FIG. 21 is an illustrative display screen showing how video for a recording selected from the list of FIG. 18 may be displayed for the user in accordance with the present invention;

[0051] FIG. 22 is an illustrative display screen showing how the user may be provided with- options that allow the user to schedule a recording of a desired program in accordance with the present invention; [0052] FIG. 23a is an illustrative display screen showing how a user may set parental controls for a given program in accordance with the present invention; [0053] FIG. 23b is an illustrative display screen showing how a user may block content by creating a time-based parental control setting in accordance with the present invention;

[0054] FIG. 24 shows an illustrative display screen showing how a user may block content associated with television programming in accordance with the present invention;

[0055] FIG. 25 shows an illustrative video-on-demand menu screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0056] FIG. 26 shows an illustrative video-on-demand configuration menu screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0057] FIG. 27 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental control configuration screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0058] FIG. 28 shows an illustrative video-on-demand block by program type configuration screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0059] FIG. 29 shows an illustrative video-on-demand block by program configuration screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0060] FIG. 30 shows an illustrative video-on-demand mask keyword configuration screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0061] FIG. 31 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental lock overlay in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0062] FIG. 32 shows an illustrative video-on-demand category menu screen having a hidden category in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0063] FIG. 33 shows an illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screen having shaded program title in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0064] FIG. 34 shows an illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screen having a generic replacement title in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0065] FIG. 35 shows an illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screen having a partially masked program title in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0066] FIG. 36 shows an illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screen having a blocked program title in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0067] FIG. 37 shows an illustrative video-on-demand program information screen having generic replacement information for a potentially objectionable program in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0068] FIG. 38 shows an illustrative video-on-demand blocked programming screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0069] FIG. 39 shows an illustrative video-on-demand program information screen having additional information associated with a program in accordance with , one embodiment of the present invention; [0070] FIG. 40 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental lock screen associated with access to additional information in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0071] FIG. 41 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental control express setup screen in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0072] FIG. 42 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0073] FIG. 43 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming specified by the user in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0074] FIG. 44 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to hide potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0075] FIG. 45 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to mask keywords in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0076] FIG. 46 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to access restricted information associated with video-on- demand programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0077] FIG. 47 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in restricting potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming and associated content through selection of restriction levels in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and [0078] FIG. 48 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in restricting access to content associated 'with television programming in response to restricting the associated television programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments [0079] An illustrative interactive television system 10 in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. Content such as television programming, video- on-demand programming, other interactive content, and any other suitable information may be provided from programming sources 12 to television distribution facilities such as television distribution facility 14 using communications path 16. Programming sources 12 may be any suitable sources of television programming, video-on-demand programming, interactive content, and any other suitable information. Programming sources 12 may be, for example, television and music production studios, web publishing companies, etc. [0080] Television distribution facility 14 may be a cable system headend, a satellite television distribution facility, a television broadcast facility, or any other suitable facility for distributing television programming, video-on-demand programming, other interactive content, and any other suitable information to users. There are typically numerous television distribution facilities 14 in system 10, but only one is shown in FIG. 1 to avoid overcomplicating the drawings.

[0081] Communications path 16 may be a satellite path, a fiber-optic path, a cable path, or any other suitable wired or wireless communications paths or a combination of such paths.

[0082] Television distribution facility 14 may be connected to various user equipment devices 18. Such user equipment 18 may, for example, be located in the homes of users. User equipment 18 may include user television equipment 20 or user computer equipment 22. [0083] The user equipment may receive television programming, video-on-demand programming, other interactive content, and any other suitable information from television distribution facility 14 over communications paths such as communications paths 26, 27, and 28. The user equipment may also transmit signals to television distribution facility 14 over paths 26, 27, and 28. Paths 26, 27, and 28 may be cables or other wired connections, free-space connections (e.g., for broadcast or other wireless signals) , satellite links, etc.

[0084] Data source 30 may include a program listings database that is used to provide the user with television program schedule information such as scheduled broadcast times, titles, channels, ratings information (e.g., parental ratings and critic's ratings) , detailed title descriptions, genre or category information (e.g., sports, news, movies, etc.), information on actors and actresses, running times, etc. Data source 30 may also be used to provide advertisements (e.g., program guide advertisements and advertisements for other interactive television applications), real-time data such as sports scores, stock quotes, news, weather, etc. Although data source 30 is drawn as an individual box in FIG. 1, data source 30 and the other system components of FIG. 1 may be provided using equipment at one or more locations. Systems components are drawn as single boxes in FIG. 1 to avoid over-complicating the drawings. [0085] Data source 30 may provide program schedule information, video-on-demand program and service information, and other data to television distribution facility 14 over communications path 32 for distribution to the associated user equipment over paths 26, 27, and 28. Communications path 32 may be any suitable communications path such as a satellite communications path or other wireless path, a fiber- optic or other wired communications path, a path that supports Internet communications, a combination of such paths, etc. Data source 30 may provide program schedule information and other data to the user at user equipment 18 over path 38, communications network 34, and path 42. Path 42 may be a wired path such as a telephone line, a cable path, a fiber-optic path, a satellite path, a wireless path, a combination of such paths, or any other suitable path.

[0086] User equipment devices such as user television equipment and personal computers may use the program schedule information to display program listings and other information associated with television programming, video-on-demand programming, other interactive content, and any other suitable information. An interactive television program guide application or other suitable application may be used to display such information on the user's display. [0087] An on-line program guide and other interactive television services may be provided using a server connected to communications network 34 such as server 36. Server 36 may receive television program information, video-on-demand program and service information, and other data from data source 30 via communications path 38, communications network 34, and communications path 40. Paths 38 and 40 may be satellite paths, fiber-optic paths, wired paths, etc. Communications network 34 may be any suitable communications network, such as the Internet, the public switched telephone network, a packet-based network, etc.

[0088] User equipment 18 may access on-line program guide information and other information from server 36 via communications path 42. User equipment 18 may also access the on-line program guide and other services on server 36 via communications path 26, television distribution facility 14, and communications path 44. For example, a cable modem or other suitable equipment may be used by user equipment 18 to communicate with television distribution facility 14. Television distribution facility 14 may communicate with communications network 34 over any suitable path 44, such as a wired path, a cable path, fiber-optic path, satellite path, a combination of such paths, etc. [0089] User equipment such as user television equipment 20 and user computer equipment 22 may access the on-line program guide and server 36 using similar arrangements. User television equipment 20 may access the on-line program guide and server 36 using communications path 46 or using path 27, television distribution facility 14, and path 44. User computer equipment 22 may access the on-line program guide and server 36 using communications path 48 or using path 28, television distribution facility 14, and path 44. Paths 46 and 48 may be any suitable paths, such as wired paths, cable paths, fiber-optic paths, wireless paths, satellite paths, a combination of such paths, etc.

[0090] Interactive television program guide application functions and the functions of other interactive television applications may be supported using server 36 and other servers connected to communications network 34 such as server 56. Interactive television applications may also be supported by servers or other suitable equipment at one or more service providers such as service provider 50. For example, a home shopping service may be supported by a service provider such as service provider 50 that has sales representatives, order fulfillment facilities, account maintenance facilities, and other equipment for supporting interactive home shopping features. A home shopping application that is • implemented using the user equipment may be used to access the service provider to provide these features to the user. The user equipment may access service provider 50 via television distribution facility 14 and communications path 52 or via communications network 34 and communications path 54. Communications paths such as paths 52 and 54 may be any suitable paths, such as wired paths, cable paths, fiber-optic paths, satellite paths, a combination of such paths, etc. [0091] Another example of an interactive television application is a home banking application. A home banking service may be supported using personnel at facilities such as service provider 50. An interactive home banking application that is implemented using the user equipment may access the home banking service via television distribution facility 14 and communications path 52 or via communications network 34 and communications path 54.

[0092] If desired, an interactive television application such as a network-based video recorder or a video-on-demand application may be supported using server 56, server 36, or equipment at service provider 50. Video-on-demand content and video recorded using a network-based video recorder arrangement may be stored on server 56 or server 36 or at service provider 50 and may be provided to the user equipment when requested by users . [0093] An interactive television application may be used to support the functions of a personal video recorder (sometimes called a digital video recorder) that is implemented using user equipment 18. Illustrative equipment that may be used to support personal video recorder functions include specialized personal video recorder devices, integrated receiver decoders (IRDs) , set-top boxes with integrated or external hard drives, or personal computers with video recording capabilities.

[0094] If desired, applications such as the interactive television program guide application, a home shopping application, a home banking application, a video-on-demand application, game applications, and other applications (e.g., applications related to e- mail and chat or other communications functions, etc.) may be provided as separate applications that are accessed through a navigation shell application (i.e., a menu application with menu options corresponding to the applications) . The features of such applications may be combined. For example, games, video-on-demand services, home shopping, network-based video recorder functions, personal video recorder functions, navigational functions, program guide functions, communications functions, and other suitable functions may be provided using one application or any other suitable number of applications. [0095] Moreover, the interactive television program guide application, the video-on-demand application, the home banking application, the home shopping application, the network-based video recorder and personal video recorder applications, the video-on- demand application, the gaming applications, communications applications, and navigational applications, are only a few illustrative examples of the types of interactive television applications that may be supported by system 10. Other suitable applications that may be supported include, news services, web browsing and other Internet services, and interactive wagering services (e.g., for wagering on horse races and the like) . [0096] The interactive television application or applications that are used in interactive television system 10 may be implemented locally on the user equipment. The applications may also be implemented in a distributed fashion (e.g., using a client-server architecture in which the user equipment serves at least partly and for at least some of the time, as the client and a server such as server 56 at television distribution facility 14, server 36, or other suitable equipment acts as the server. Other distributed architectures may also be used if desired. Moreover, some or all of the interactive television system features of system 10 may be provided using operating system software or middleware software. Such operating system software and middleware may be used instead of or in combination with application-level software.

[0097] Regardless of the particular arrangement used to implement interactive television features related to program guides, home shopping, home banking, video-on- demand, Internet, communications, etc., the software that supports these features may be referred to as an application or applications.

[0098] Illustrative user television equipment 20 that is based on a set-top box arrangement is shown in FIG. 2. Input/output 58 may be connected to communications paths such as paths 27 and 46.

Input/output functions may be provided by one or more wires or communications paths, but are shown as a single path in FIG. 2 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing. Television programming, video-on-demand programming, and other information may be received using input/output 58. Commands and requests and other information from the user may also be transmitted over input/output 58.

[0099] Set-top box 60 may be any suitable analog or digital set-top box (e.g., a cable set-top box). Set- top box 60 may contain an analog tuner for tuning to a desired analog television channel. Set-top box 60 may also contain digital decoding circuitry for receiving digital television and music channels. Both analog and digital channels may be handled together if desired. Multiple tuners may be provided (e.g., to handle simultaneous watch and record functions) . Box 60 may be an integrated receiver decoder (IRD) that handles satellite television. If desired, box 60 may have circuitry for handling cable, over-the-air broadcast, and satellite content. Box 60 may include a storage device (e.g., a digital storage device such as a hard disk drive) for providing recording capabilities. Box 60 may also be connected to a recording device 62 such as a video cassette recorder, personal video recorder, or other device or devices with storage capabilities. [0100] Set-top box 60 contains a processor (e.g., a microcontroller or microprocessor or the like) that is used to execute software applications. Set-top box 60 may contain memory such as random-access memory for use when executing applications. Nonvolatile memory may also be used (e.g., to launch a boot-up routine and other instructions) . Hard disk storage in box 60 or in recording device 62 may be used to back up data and to otherwise support larger databases and storage requirements than may be supported using random-access memory approaches.

[0101] Set-top box 60 may have infrared (IR) or other communications circuitry for communicating with a remote control or wireless keyboard. Set-top box 60 may also have dedicated buttons and a front-panel display. The front-panel display may, for example, be used to display the current channel to which the set- top box is tuned. [0102] Set-top box 60 may also have communications circuitry such as a cable modem, an integrated services digital network (ISDN) modem, a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem, a telephone modem, wireless modem, etc. for communications with other equipment. Such communications may involve the Internet or any other suitable communications networks or paths. If desired, the components of set-top box 60 may be integrated into other user equipment (e.g., a television or videocassette recorder) . [0103] Recording device 62 may be used to record videos provided by set-top box 60. For example, if set-top box 60 is tuned to a given television channel, the video signal for that television channel may be passed to recording device 62 for recording on a videocassette, compact disc, digital video disk, or internal hard drive or other storage device. Recording device 62 may have communications circuitry such as a cable modem, an ISDN modem, a DSL modem, a telephone modem, etc. for communications with other equipment. Such communications may involve the Internet or any other suitable communications networks or paths. The components of recording device 62 may be integrated into other user equipment (e.g., a television, stereo equipment, etc.). [0104] Recording device 62 may be controlled using a remote control or other suitable user interface. If desired, video recorder functions such as start, stop, record, etc. and other functions for device 62 may be controlled by set-top box 60. For example, set-top box 60 may control recording device 62 using infrared commands directed toward the remote control inputs of recording device 62 or set-top box 60 may control recording device 62 using other wired or wireless communications paths between box 60 and device 62. [0105] The output of recording device 62 may be provided to television 64 for display to the user. If desired, multiple recording devices 62 or no recording device 62 may be used. If recording device 62 is not present or is not being actively used, the video signals from set-top box 60 may be provided directly to television 64. Any suitable television or monitor may be used to display the video. In the equipment of FIG. 2 and the other equipment of system 10, the audio associated with various video items is typically distributed with those video items and is generally played back to the user as the videos are played. [0106] Another illustrative arrangement for user television equipment 20 is shown in FIG. 3. In the example of FIG. 3, user television equipment 20 includes a recording device 66 such as a digital video recorder (e.g., a personal video recorder (PVR)) that uses a hard disk or other storage for recording video or may be a digital video disc recorder, compact disc recorder, videocassette recorder, or other suitable recording device. Equipment 20 of FIG. 3 may also include a television 68. Input/output 70 may be connected to communications paths such as paths 27 and 46. Television programming, video-on-demand programming, and other information may be received using input/output 70. Commands and requests and other information from the user may be transmitted over input/output 70.

[0107] Recording device 66 may contain at least one analog tuner for tuning to a desired analog television channel (e.g., multiple tuners may be provided). Recording device 66 may also contain digital decoding circuitry for receiving digital television and music channels. If desired, recording device 66 may contain circuitry for handling both analog and digital channels. Recording device 66 also contains a processor (e.g., a microcontroller or microprocessor or the like) that is used to execute software applications. Recording device 66 may contain memory such as random-access memory for use when executing applications. Nonvolatile memory may also be used to store a boot-up routine or other instructions. The hard disk and other storage in recording device 66 may be used to support databases (e.g., program guide databases or interactive television application databases). The hard disk or other storage in recording device 66 may also be used to record video such as television programs, video-on-demand content, or other content provided to recording device 66 over input/output 70.

[0108] Recording device 66 may have IR communications circuitry or other suitable communications circuitry for communicating with a remote control. Recording device 66 may also have dedicated buttons and a front-panel display. The front-panel display may, for example, be used to display the current channel to which the recording device is tuned.

[0109] Recording device 66 may also have communications circuitry such as a cable modem, an ISDN modem, a DSL modem, a telephone modem, a wireless modem, etc. for communications with other equipment. Such communications may involve the Internet or other suitable communications networks or paths. [0110] If desired, recording device 66 may include a satellite receiver or other equipment that has wireless communications circuitry for receiving satellite signals .

[0111] Recording device 66 of FIG. 3 or recording device 62 of FIG. 2 may record new video while previously recorded video is being played back on television 68 or 64. This allows users to press a pause button during normal television viewing. When the pause button is pressed, the current television program is stored on the hard disk of digital video recorder 66. When the user presses play, the recorded video may be played back. This arrangement allows the user to seamlessly pause and resume television viewing. Recording device 66 and 62 may also be used to allow a user to watch a previously-recorded program while simultaneously recording a new program.

[0112] The set-top box arrangement of FIG. 2 and the digital video recorder set-top box arrangement of FIG. 3 are merely illustrative. Other arrangements may be used if desired. For example, user television equipment may be based on a WebTV box, a personal computer television (PC/TV) , or any other suitable television equipment arrangement. If desired, the functions of components such as set-top box 60, digital video recorder 66, a WebTV box, or PC/TV or the like may be integrated into a television or personal computer or other suitable device. [0113] An illustrative remote control 72 for operating user television equipment 20 (or suitable user computer equipment 22) is shown in FIG. 4. Remote control 72 may have function keys 74 and other keys 76 such as keypad keys, power on/off keys, pause, stop, fast-forward and reverse keys, etc. Volume up and down keys 78 may be used for adjusting the volume of the audio portion of a video. Channel up and down keys 80 may be used to change television channels and to access content on virtual channels. Cursor keys 82 may be used to navigate on-screen menus. For example, cursor keys 82 may be used to position an on-screen cursor, indicator, or highlight (sometimes all generically referred to herein as a highlight or highlight region) to indicate interest in a particular option or other item on a screen displayed by the interactive television application.

[0114] An OK key 84 (sometimes called a select or enter key) may be used to select on-screen options that the user has highlighted. [0115] Keys 74 may include a record key 86 for initiating recordings. Menu button 88 may be used to direct the interactive television application to display a menu on the user's display screen (e.g., on television 64 or 68 or on a suitable monitor or computer display) . Info button 90 may be used to direct the interactive television application to display an information display screen. If the user has highlighted a particular program listing, for example, pressing the info button 90 may direct the interactive television application to provide additional program schedule information related to that program listing (e.g., a program summary, actor information, etc.). [0116] Lock button 92 may be used to modify access privileges. For example, a parent may use lock button 92 or on-screen options to establish parental control settings for the interactive television application. The parental control settings may be time-based settings (e.g., to prevent a child from watching television during a particular time block such as from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM) . The parental control settings may also be used to block television or video-on-demand programming based on rating, channel, program title, etc. The parental control setting may additionally be used to block content associated with television and video-on-demand programming. A locked or blocked program is typically not viewable until the interactive television application is provided with a suitable personal identification number (PIN) . Once this PIN has been entered, the interactive television program will unlock the user's equipment and allow the locked content to be accessed.

[0117] Exit button 94 may be used to exit the interactive television application or to exit a portion of the interactive television application. Guide button 96 may be used to invoke the interactive television program guide.

[0118] The keys shown in FIG. 4 are merely illustrative. Other keys or buttons may be provided if desired. For example, a music button may be used to access music with the interactive television application. An edit button may be used to edit stored content (e.g., to remove commercials, remove portions of a video, etc.). Alphanumeric buttons may be used to enter alphanumeric characters. A last or back button may be used to browse backward in the interactive television application (e.g., to return to a previous channel or display screen) . Video recorder function buttons such as a play button, pause button, stop button, rewind button, fast-forward button, and record button, may be used to control video recorder functions (local or network-based) in system 10. A help key may be used to invoke help functions such as context- sensitive on-screen help, etc.

[0119] Illustrative user computer equipment 22 is shown in FIG. 5. In the arrangement of FIG. 5, personal computer 98 may be controlled by the user using keyboard 100 or other suitable user input device, such as a trackball, mouse, touch pad, touch screen, voice recognition system, a remote control such as remote control 72 of FIG. 4, etc. Video content such as television programming, video-on-demand programming, and interactive television application display screens may be displayed on monitor 102. Television programming, video-on-demand content, video recordings played back from a network-based video recorder, and other information may be received from paths 28 and 48 (FIG. 1) using input/output 104. The user may also send commands and other information used during interactions with the interactive television application and system 10 over input/output line 104. [0120] Personal computer unit 98 may contain a television or video card such as television tuner card for decoding analog and digital television channels and for handling streaming video content. Multiple video cards (e.g., tuner cards) may be provided if desired. An illustrative television tuner card that may be used may contain an analog television tuner for tuning to a given analog channel and digital decoding circuitry for filtering out a desired digital television or music channel from a packetized digital data stream. Any suitable card or components in computer unit 98 may be used to handle video and other content delivered via input/output line 104 if desired. [0121] Personal computer unit 98 may contain one or more processors (e.g., microprocessors) that are used to run the interactive television application or a portion of the interactive television application. [0122] Storage in personal computer unit 98 such as a hard drive, DVD drive, CD drive, or other suitable storage device or devices may be used to store video and other content. For example, the interactive television application and personal computer unit 98 may use this storage to provide the functions of a personal video recorder. [0123] User equipment 18 such as user television equipment 20 and user computer equipment 22 may be used with network equipment such as server 56, server 36, and equipment at service providers such as service provider 50 of FIG. 1 to provide network-based video recording functions. Video recording functions may be provided by storing copies of television programs and other video content on a remote server (e.g., server 56 or server 36 of FIG. 1) or other network-based equipment such as equipment at a service provider such as service provider 50.

[0124] Video recordings may be made in response to user commands that are entered at user equipment 18. In a personal video recorder arrangement, the interactive television application may be used to record video locally on the user equipment in response to the user commands. In a network-based video recorder arrangement, the interactive television application may be used to record video or to make virtual recordings on network equipment such as server 36, 56, or equipment at service provider 50 in response to the user commands. The user commands may be provided to the network equipment over the communications paths shown in FIG. 1. The personal video recorder arrangement and the network-based video recorder arrangement can support functions such as fast-forward, rewind, pause, play, and record. [0125] To avoid unnecessary duplication in a network-based video recorder environment, the system 10 may provide network-based video recording capabilities by using virtual copies or recordings. With this approach, each user may be provided with a personal area on the network that contains a list of that user's recordings. The video content need only be stored once (or a relatively small number of times) on the network equipment, even though a large number of users may have that video content listed as one of their recordings in their network-based video recorder personal area. [0126] The user television equipment and user computer equipment arrangements described above are merely illustrative. A more generalized embodiment of illustrative user equipment is shown in FIG. 6. [0127] As shown in FIG. 6, control circuitry 106 is connected to input/output 108. Input/output 108 may be connected to one or more communications paths such as paths 26, 27, 28, 42, 46, and 48 of FIG. 1. Television programming, video-on-demand programming, and other data may be received via input/output 108 (e.g., from programming sources 12, servers or other equipment such as server 36, service providers such as service provider 50, and television distribution facility 14) . Program schedule information for an interactive television program guide may be received from data source 30 via input/output 108. Input/output 108 may also be used to receive information from data source 30 for other interactive television applications. The user may use control circuitry 106 to send commands, requests, and other suitable information using input/output 108.

[0128] Control circuitry 106 may be based on any suitable processing circuitry 110 such as processing circuitry based on one or more microprocessors, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, programmable logic devices, etc. Memory (e.g., random- access memory and read-only memory) , hard drives, DVD drives, CD drives, or any other suitable memory or storage devices may be provided as storage 112 that is part of control circuitry 106. Tuning circuitry such as one or more analog tuners, one or more MPEG-2 decoders or other digital video circuitry, or any other suitable tuning or video circuits or combinations of such circuits may also be included as part of circuitry 106. Encoding circuitry (e.g., for converting over- the-air or cable analog signals to MPEG signals for storage) may also be provided. The tuning and encoding circuitry may be used by the user equipment to receive and display or play or record a particular television or music channel or other desired audio and video content (e.g., video-on-demand content or requested network-based or local video recorder playback) . Television programming and other video and on-screen options and information may be displayed on display 114. Display 114 may be a monitor, a television, or any other suitable equipment for displaying visual images. Speakers 116 may be provided as part of a television or may be stand-alone units. Digital music and the audio component of videos displayed on display 114 may be played through speakers 116. [0129] A user may control the control circuitry 106 using user input interface 118. The user input interface 118 may be any suitable user interface, such as a mouse, trackball, keypad, keyboard, touch screen, touch pad, voice recognition interface, remote control, or any other suitable input device. [0130] Numerous system arrangements may be used to provide video-on-demand programming and other content to the user. For clarity and brevity, the present invention will be primarily described in terms of an interactive television program guide application that includes an video-on-demand application for providing video-on-demand programming to the user. [0131] The interactive television program guide application may be implemented to provide the user with an opportunity to restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming and content.

[0132] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to apply restriction to the potentially objectionable video-on- demand programming and content during parental control configuration. The user may initiate the parental control configuration process, for example, by selecting a configuration option provided by the interactive television program guide application when the user accesses video-on-demand services. [0133] An illustrative menu 120 that may be displayed on the user's display screen is shown in FIG. 7. As shown in FIG. 7, menu 120 may provide the user with an number of selectable options. The options shown in FIG. 7 are merely illustrative. Any suitable options may be provided if desired. [0134] A user of user equipment 18 (e.g., a user of user television equipment 20 or a user of user computer equipment 22, or a user of any other suitable user equipment device) may invoke an interactive television menu such as menu screen 120 by pressing menu button 88 (FIG. 4) . Remote control 72 (FIG. 4) or other user interface 118 (FIG. 6) may be used to position highlight region 121 on top of selectable options such as options 122-135. If the user selects option 122 or 123, a screen of program listings may be displayed. Option 124 may be used to display program listings for channels designated by the user as "favorites." Option 125 may be used to provide program listings selected for promotion by a service provider (e.g., a program guide service provider, a cable operator, etc.). Option 126 may be used to invoke a home shopping service. Options 127 may be used to search program listings by title, time, category, or any other criteria. Option 128 may be selected to display options related to video-on-demand services. Option 129 may be selected to display an interactive list of previously recorded recordings and option 131 may be selected to display an interactive list of programs scheduled for recording. Option 130 may be selected to display pay-per-view program listings and pay-per-view services options. If the user selects option 132, the user may be presented with an opportunity to access home banking functions. Option 133 may be selected to change system setup options and option 134 may be selected to launch a web browser or other application for accessing the Internet. Option 135 may be selected to access other interactive television services. When the user selects an option with highlight region 121 from menu screen 120, the user's selection may be described in information display region 136.

[0135] If desired, program guide screens such as menu screen 120 and other interactive television application screens may include selectable advertisements 137. Any suitable advertisements may be provided, including panel advertisements, banner advertisements, advertisements provided between program listings, advertisements provided on certain program listings or other portions of the screen, or any other suitable advertisements. A user may use cursor keys 82 of remote control 72 (FIG. 4) to position a highlight region on an advertisement of interest and may select the highlighted advertisement using OK key 84. Users of other user interfaces may make appropriate selections using the buttons or controls available through those interfaces (e.g., using voice commands if the user interface involves a voice recognition arrangement, etc.).

[0136] An illustrative program guide screen 138 that may be displayed for the user is shown in FIG. 8. Program guide screen 138 may be displayed, for example, when the user selects program listings option 122 of FIG. 7, when the user selects a suitable option from within an interactive television program guide application or other interactive television application, or when the user presses an appropriate remote control button such as guide button 96 or otherwise uses user input interface 118 to indicate a desire to view program listings.

[0137] Program guide screen 138 may contain a grid or list of program listings 143. Program listings 143 may include program titles, channels, scheduled broadcast times, and any other suitable program schedule information. Highlight region 142 may be used to select a desired program listing 144. Program Information for selected programs may appear elsewhere on program guide screen 138 (e.g., in program information display region 139) . If the user presses OK key 84 when a program listing for a current program is highlighted, the interactive television application may tune to the channel for that program. If the user presses OK key 84 when a program listing for a future program is highlighted, the interactive television application may provide the user with an opportunity to set a reminder for that program or to record that program.

[0138] Other functions that the interactive television application may provide include the ability to set favorites or establish preferences or other settings. For example, the user may select a particular channel for the program guide to automatically tune to when the user equipment is turned on. The user may also select favorite programs, favorite channels, etc. The program guide or other interactive television application may provide the user with the ability to establish parental control settings, the ability to search for programming of interest, and the ability to view program descriptions, advertisements, text, graphics, and video, etc. These are merely illustrative examples of interactive television functions that may be provided by interactive television system 10. Other suitable interactive television functions may be provided if desired.

[0139] A user may access program listings (e.g., program listings of the type shown in FIG. 8) by using the interactive television application to select an onscreen option such as option 122 and 123 of FIG. 7, by pressing a dedicated guide button such as guide button 96 on remote control 72, by selecting any other suitable button or on-screen option, etc. In the example of FIG. 8, program listings are currently being displayed for television programs that air between 12:00 noon and 1:00 PM. As shown by arrows 140 and 141, the user may use right or left cursor keys to navigate to other times (e.g., to direct the interactive television application to display appropriate screens of program listings 143 for different time periods) . If desired, the user may select options or press keys (or use user input interface 118 to otherwise enter suitable commands) that direct the interactive television application to display program listings organized by channel, by genre, by service type (e.g., pay-per-view or regular broadcast television), etc. [0140] Selectable options, such as options 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, and 152, may be provided as part of program guide screen 138 or any other program guide screen for providing access to various interactive television application features. For example, option 145 may be used to display a home screen or main menu, such as menu screen 120 of FIG. 7. Option 146 may be selected to display program listings for channels designated by the user as "favorites." Option 147 may be selected to display listings of recommended programs using highlight region 142. Scroll indicators 148 and 149 may be used to navigate down and up through program listings. Option 150 may be selected to display information related to video-on- demand services. Option 151 may be selected to search television program listings by title, time, category, or any other suitable criteria. Option 152 may be selected to display information related to digital music services. [0141] The interactive television application may provide a "flip" tuning feature. As shown in FIG. 9, when the user invokes the flip mode, flip display 153 may be provided over a portion of a channel (i.e., channel 2) that the user is currently tuned to and is watching on display screen 154. Flip display 153 contains information (in region 156) on the program 155 appearing on the current channel (channel 2) to which the set-top box 60 or other user equipment is tuned. The user may change the channel using channel up and down keys on the remote control or using user interface 118 to issue other suitable channel change commands. This simultaneously changes the channel to which the set-top box 60 or other user equipment is tuned and the channel information displayed in region 156 (and the associated program information 155) .

[0142] The flip display 153 may be removed manually or automatically (e.g., after a few seconds or other suitable time period of user inactivity) . When the user starts changing channels again, the flip display 153 may be displayed again.

[0143] The flip feature of the interactive television application therefore allows the user to view program information for the channel that the user is currently viewing as the user changes channels. In the example of FIG. 9, the flip display 153 is displayed in the form of an overlay on top of the current channel. If desired, the video for the current channel may be reduced in size and the flip information (e.g., the program title and channel information for the current program) may be displayed at a location on the periphery of the reduced-size video (e.g., at the bottom, side, or top of the reduced-size video) . [0144] An advertisement 158 or other content may be provided in the flip display region if desired. Other optional information that may be displayed in flip display 153 includes information on the scheduled broadcast times for the program 155, ratings information, program descriptions, and other program- related information.

[0145] The interactive television application may also be used to provide a browse feature. As shown in FIG. 10, when the user invokes the browse feature (e.g., by pressing an up or down cursor key), browse display 160 may be displayed as an overlay over a portion of the channel (i.e., channel 2) that is being displayed on the user's display screen 162 and to which the user is currently tuned. Browse display 160 may initially contain information on the current channel. For example, browse display 160 may, when initially invoked by the user, contain the title of the current program and information on the current channel such as the current channel number, call letters, and network logo.

[0146] When the user presses the up or down cursor key (or enters other suitable commands using user interface 118), the browse display may be changed to display information on the programming available on other channels. In the example of FIG. 10, the user has pressed the cursor keys repeatedly, until the user has browsed to channel 99. The video that is being displayed on display screen 162 has not changed in this example (channel 2 is still being displayed) . [0147] As indicated by arrows 166, the user may use right and left cursor keys 82 (or other suitable controls) to browse to other time slots (e.g., to view information related to programming that is scheduled for broadcast at a later time) . Browse display 160 may contain an advertisement 168, information 170 on scheduled program times, program descriptions and other program-related information and icons such as check icon 163 (to indicate that a reminder has been set for a given program) and ratings icon 161. [0148] If the user locates a currently available program of interest on another channel, the user may press the OK key 84 to direct the interactive television application to tune the user equipment to that channel.

[0149] The browse display 160 may be removed manually or may be removed automatically from display screen 162 after a suitable period of user inactivity (e.g., after a few seconds or a minute or two) . [0150] If desired, the browse display can be displayed on the periphery of the video for the current program rather than as an overlay. The video for the current channel may be reduced in size accordingly. [0151] When the user has indicated interest in a program (e.g., by positioning highlight region 142 of FIG. 8 on top of a given program listing, by tuning to a program, by viewing a program listing on the flip banner of FIG. 9 or the browse banner of FIG. 10, etc.), the user may press info key 90 (FIG. 4) to obtain more information for that program. Illustrative info screens 171 and 180 that may be displayed when a 'user presses info button 90 are shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, respectively. Screens such as screens 171 and 180 may be provided when a user selects a program listing from a interactive television application screen (e.g., program guide screen 138 of FIG. 8). Info screen 171 of FIG. 11 may include a detailed description 172 of a program selected by the user. Description 172 may include, for example, the title, time, channel, and rating of the program, or any other suitable information. As in FIG. 8, selectable options may be provided as part of info screen 171 to provide access to various interactive television application features. For example, option 174 may be used to return to the previous program guide screen. Option 175 may be used to tune to the selected program or set a reminder for the selected program (e.g., the program for which information is displaying in description 172) . Option 176 may be selected to display recording options and services for the selected program. Option 177 may be selected to display options for adding a reminder for the selected program. Option 178 may be used to display options for adding the selected program or channel to a user's favorites, and option 179 may be used to display options for providing a parental lock on the selected program. Selectable options for other interactive television application features may also be provided. A highlight region may be used to select any of the selectable options provided by a program guide screen. Information describing a highlighted option may be provided, for example, in information display region 173.

[0152] Information screens may include advertisements. For example, info screen 180 of FIG. 12 may include selectable advertisements 181.

Information regions on screen 180 such as title region 182 and program description region 186 may be used to display information on the selected program such as title information, ratings information, plot summary information, information about actors, genre, critics ratings, etc.

[0153] Region 190 may be used to inform the user of the possibility of setting a reminder for the selected program, of tuning to the channel showing the selected program, of recording the selected program, of purchasing the selected program if it is a pay-per-view program, of parentally controlling the selected program, of configuring a related profile or preference settings, or performing any other suitable action related to the selected program. Region 190 may also be used to provide additional information related to the selected program. The user may position highlight region 184 on top of either yes option 183 or no option 185 or any other suitable options (e.g., options to tune to the channel, to record the program, to purchase the program, to parentally control the program, to configure the preference settings, etc.). When the user presses the OK key 84, the interactive television application may then take appropriate actions. If the user opts to set a reminder for the program listed in the info screen 180, the interactive television application may display a pop-up reminder overlay on top of the video for the channel that the user is currently watching just before the program associated with the reminder is scheduled to begin, or any suitable display screen that is active at the time that the reminder pops up (e.g., a program listings screen). [0154] An illustrative reminder is shown in FIG. 13. In the example of FIG. 13, the user is watching channel 3. The current time is 6:58 PM. Previously, the user set a reminder for the program "On The Riviera," which is scheduled to be shown on channel 39 at 7:00 PM. Because the program for which the user set the reminder is just about to begin, the interactive television application displays reminder list 192 as an overlay on top of the video for channel 3 that is being presented on display screen 194. The reminder list may contain a list of one or more programs for which the user has set reminders. In the example of FIG. 13, one program listing 196 ("On The Riviera") is displayed. [0155] The user can tune to a program by selecting that program from the reminder list 192. For example, the user may position highlight region 198 on listing 196 and may select that listing by pressing the OK key 84. The interactive television application may then tune the user to the channel for the desired program (i.e., channel 39 in this example). [0156] The user can close the reminder list by pressing the OK key 84 while hide reminder option 200 • is highlighted.

[0157] The reminder list may be displayed at any suitable time (e.g., at 0-15 minutes before the program of interest is to begin, at a user-selected time before that program, etc.). Moreover, the reminder list may be displayed around the periphery of the video for the current channel and the video for the current channel may be displayed in a reduced-size window. These are merely illustrative examples. Any suitable arrangement may be used to notify the user of upcoming programs or in-progress programs for which the user has set reminders and other programs of interest.

[0158] The interactive television application may be used to provide the user with access to video-on-demand content. The user may, for example, be provided with an option such as video-on-demand option 128 on menu screen 120 of FIG. 7. When the user selects option

128, the interactive television application may display a screen such as video-on-demand categories screen 202 of FIG. 14. Screen 202 may include logos such as logo 204, selectable (or non-selectable) advertisements such as advertisements 206, and a screen title 208. The user may position highlight region 210 on an option 212 corresponding to a video-on-demand category of interest.

[0159] When the user selects the video-on-demand category of interest from screen 202, the interactive television application may display a display screen such as subcategory selection screen 214 of FIG. 15. In the example of FIG. 15, the subcategories screen 214 contains subcategory options 220 corresponding to movies, because (in this example) the user selected movies A-Z option 212 from screen 202 in FIG. 14. Video window 221 may be provided in any video-on-demand information screen and may provide information relating to a video-on-demand program selected by the user or any other suitable video information. [0160] The user may position highlight region 218 onto a desired subcategory 220 and may press OK key 84 to view a list of available video-on-demand content associated with that subcategory. An illustrative display screen 222 that the interactive television application may display for the user when the action subcategory option 220 (FIG. 15) is selected is shown in FIG. 16. As shown in FIG. 16, display screen 222 may include information identifying the selected subcategory 224. Screen 222 may also include a list 226 of titles 230 (or other content indicators) . The user may position highlight region 228 on a desired video-on-demand title 230 and may press the OK key to proceed with the selection of that title. [0161] Selecting a desired video-on-demand title 230 from title selection screen 222 may direct the interactive television application to display a video- on-demand information screen such as information screen 232 of FIG. 17a. Screen 232 may include information 236 on the selected video-on-demand content, such as title, run time, price, rating, and a description of the selected video-on-demand content. [0162] Selectable options, such as options 234, 235, 237, and 238 may be provided as part of screen 232 to provide access to various interactive television application features. For example, option 238 may be selected to access options for ordering the selected video-on-demand content. Option 237 may be used to access options for recording the selected content, and option 235 may be used to access options for setting parental control locks for the selected content. If the user selects option 234, the interactive television application may display a video clip containing information on the video-on-demand content of interest (e.g., a promotional video such as a preview, a trailer, a review, etc.). The video clip may be delivered to the user equipment 18 from a server such as server 36 or server 56 of FIG. 1 or from equipment at a service provider such a service provider 50. The interactive television application may also provide the user with additional information on the video-on-demand content in response to the user selecting option 234. Other suitable selectable options may also be provided on screen 232 (e.g., a program package information and purchase option, options for searching program listings for related content, etc.).

[0163] If a user requests information for video-on- demand content that has already been ordered, the interactive television application may provide video- on-demand information screen such as screen 239 of FIG. 17b, which may include selectable options different than those provided for screen 232 of FIG. 17a. For example, option 240 may be used to start playing selected video-on-demand content from the program position most recently viewed. Option 241 may be used to present the selected content from the beginning, and option 242 may be used to access options for recording the content. Option 243 may be used to remove the selected content from a listing of the ordered and available content. Option 244 may be used to access options for setting parental control locks for the selected content. If the selected content is being accessed over a network or being provided by a network storage device, option 245 may be used to store the content on a local storage device. [0164] In response to a user ordering selected content (e.g., by selecting an on-screen order option such as option 238 of FIG. 17a, or by using remote control 72 or any other suitable input device 118 to order content, etc.), the interactive television application may deliver the ordered video-on-demand content to the user equipment from a server such as server 36 or server 56 or from a service provider such as service provider 50. The communications paths and communications network 34 of FIG. 1 may be used in delivering the requested content.

[0165] The ordered video-on-demand content may be displayed for the user on a display screen such as video-on-demand playback screen 246 of FIG. 18. As shown in the lower portion of screen 246, interactive options may be displayed in a toolbar 248 or other suitable format. The interactive options 248 (or similar remote control buttons) may allow the user to rewind the video-on-demand content to the beginning, rewind, play, fast-forward, pause, stop delivery of the video-on-demand content, or perform other video playback options. The arrangement of FIG. 18 is merely illustrative. For example, the video-on-demand content may be played back in a reduced size window (of fixed or user-selectable size) .

[0166] The interactive television system 10 may be used to support video recorder functions. The video recorder functions may be supported using local arrangements (e.g., arrangements in which a personal video recorder or other suitable equipment in the user's home is used to record videos on a local hard drive or other storage device) and network-based arrangements (e.g., arrangements in which network equipment such as servers 36 and 56 or equipment at a service provider such as service provider 50 is used to store video and data for the user) . Combinations of these arrangements may also be supported using system 10.

[0167] In a local video recorder arrangement (sometimes called a personal video recorder arrangement or local digital video recorder arrangement) , video recordings are stored locally on the user equipment.

Information on which videos have been recorded may also be maintained locally. Program guide information (e.g., titles, rates, descriptions, categories, etc.) may also be maintained for the recorded videos. When a user desires to view a list of the recordings that the user has stored on the user equipment, the interactive television application may retrieve this information from local storage and may display this information to the user locally on user equipment 18. The user may then select a desired recording to play back.

[0168] In a network-based video recorder arrangement (sometimes called a client-server video recorder arrangement) , videos may be stored on the network (e.g., at servers such as servers 36 and 56 or at a service provider such as service provider 50) .

Information on which programs have been recorded for the user may be stored locally and on the network (e.g., at servers such as servers 36 and 56 or at a service provider such as service provider 50) . [0169] Network-based recordings may be made in a number of ways. For example, some or all of the regularly-broadcast television programming provided by programming sources 12 may be automatically recorded or copies of this programming otherwise maintained on a suitable network storage device such as server 36, server 56, or equipment at a service provider such as service provider 50. If the user chooses to "record" a program, no actual recording need be made, because a copy of the desired program already exists on the system. With this type of arrangement, virtual recordings take the place of real recordings. [0170] The user may be given a "personal area" on the network. The personal area may be accessed when the user enters an appropriate personal identification number or by virtue of the user's connection to the network through a known or trusted communications path (e.g., when the user is connected through a dedicated cable path to a server at a cable system headend such as a server 56 at television distribution facility 14 of FIG. 1) .

[0171] The personal area may be used to maintain a list of the video content that the user has recorded. Whenever the user directs the network-based video recorder portion of the interactive television system to make a recording, the system updates the user's personal area to make it appear as though an additional "real" copy of the requested recording has been made. The network-based video recorder implemented with this approach therefore conserves storage space, while providing users with the illusion of access to a network-based video recorder dedicated to their personal use. [0172] Alternatively, there may be no personal area and each user may have access to all previously recorded content to which they had rights when originally broadcast. [0173] As another example, some or all of the content for which a user requests that a recording be made may be recorded by creating actual copies (e.g., digital recordings) of the requested content. These actual copies may be stored on network equipment (e.g., servers such as servers 36 and 56 or equipment at a service provider such as service provider 50) . [0174] Programs recorded onto a network server may be copied to a user's local storage. [0175] A combination of these approaches may be used if desired. For example, some content may be automatically retained by the system (e.g., copies of popular programming) . The user may make virtual recordings of this material. The presence of the virtual recordings may be reflected in the user's personal area. Other content may be stored in the form of actual recordings at the direction of the user (e.g., less popular content). The presence of these recordings may also be reflected in the user's personal area.

[0176] Regardless of the way in which network-based recordings (virtual or real) and local recordings are made, the interactive television application may be used to provide the user with interactive display screens that assist the user in making recordings, managing recordings (e.g., editing recordings, deleting recordings, renaming recordings, sending recordings to other users over the communications paths of FIG. 1, etc.), playing back recordings, viewing information about recorded programs, etc.

[0177] Once a program has been selected by a user for recording, the selected program may be presented in an interactive list of programs scheduled to be recorded. An illustrative scheduled recordings screen 250 that may be displayed for the user on user equipment 18 is shown in FIG. l-9a. Screen 250 may be displayed by the interactive television application when the user selects an option provided by another program guide screen, such as program guide screen 120 of FIG. 7 or any other suitable option. Screen 250 may include, for example, a list of programs scheduled to be recorded 251. A highlight region 252 may be used to select a scheduled recording from the list. The user may position highlight region 252 on a desired scheduled recording and select the scheduled recording using an appropriate key of remote control 72. [0178] Information about a scheduled recording selected by the user may be presented in a screen such as screen 253 of FIG. 19b. Screen 253 may include scheduled recording information 254, which may show the date, time, and channel for which a program is to be recorded. Information 254 may also indicate which device has been designated to record the program and whether a parental lock is set for the program scheduled to be recorded. The user may edit information 254 by selecting edit option 255 using a highlight region. Other selectable options may be provided in screen 253, for example cancel option 256 which the user may select to cancel the scheduled recording.

[0179] Once a program has been recorded, a program guide screen may be presented to display recorded programs. An illustrative video recordings screen 260 that may be displayed for the user on user equipment 18 is shown in FIG. 20. Screen 260 may be displayed by the interactive television application when the user selects an option provided by another program guide screen, such as program guide screen 120 of FIG. 7 or any other suitable option. The recordings 261 may be local recordings that are stored on the user's equipment 18 or may be real or virtual network-based recordings (e.g., network-based content stored on equipment such as server 36 or server 56 or at service provider 50) . In a network-based video recorder environment with a personal area, screens such as screen 260 provide access to all or part of the user's personal area. The user may navigate through the personal area using remote control 72 or other suitable user interface 18. [0180] Screen 260 may include a list of the user's recordings 261. Recording listings may include the time and channel the program was recorded or any other suitable information. The user may position highlight region 262 to select a recording of interest (e.g., to view that recording, to view information about that program, to delete the program, etc.). The user may position highlight region 262 on a desired recording and select the recording using an appropriate key of remote control 72. [0181] Information about a recording selected by the user may be presented in a screen such as screen 264 as illustrated in FIG. 20b. Screen 264 may include recording information 265, which may show the date, time, and channel the program was recorded. Information 265 may also show whether a parental lock is set for the recording and what device has been designated to store the recording. The user may play the recording by selecting option 266. The user may play the selected recording from the beginning by selecting option 267. Option 268 may be selected to delete the recording from the list of recordings. Option 269 may be used to set a parental lock for the selected recording. If the selected recording is being stored on a network video storage device, the user may select option 259 to transfer the recording to a local storage device. On-screen options may be selected using a highlight region and a remote control, or by any other suitable method. [0182] When a given recording is selected for play back, for example by selecting play option 266, a display screen such as display screen 269 of FIG. 21 may be presented. Display screen 269 may include the video 270 of the selected program that is being played back to the user and options 271 for controlling the video. Options 271 may, for example, include options that allow the user to rewind the video to the beginning, to rewind or reverse the video, to play the video, to fast-forward the video, to pause the video, or to stop the video. Control of these functions and other interactive television application functions may be supported using on-screen options, dedicated or multi-purpose keys on remote control 72 or other user devices, or other suitable arrangements involving user interface 118. When on-screen options are used, the options may be displayed in the form of one or more overlays on top of video 270 or video 270 may be provided in a reduced-size window and the options displayed outside of this window. [0183] With the arrangement of FIGS. 20 and 21, the user can browse the user's recordings and can play back (and control the playback) of these recordings. Recordings that are stored locally on user equipment 18 may be played back by retrieving these recordings from the local hard drive or other storage on which the recordings are maintained. Recordings that are stored on the network may be played back from the network equipment on which the recording content is stored.

User equipment 18 may receive such content in the form of a real-time video stream or a file download and the interactive television application may play back the received content using a display screen arrangement of the type shown in FIG. 21.

[0184] The user may record programming by indicating interest in a program for recording by highlighting a program of interest on a suitable display screen provided by the interactive television application and pressing a record key, by selecting a program for recording from a flip or browse display, by tuning to a desired program and selecting an appropriate record button, by selecting a record option from an information screen, etc. For example, the user may highlight a program in a program listings screen such as screen 138 of FIG. 8, or may display a program listing of interest on a flip display such as flip display 153 of FIG. 9 or on a browse display such as browse display 160 of FIG. 10. When the user presses a suitable remote control key such as record key 86 of FIG. 4, the interactive television application may record the desired program.

[0185] The interactive television application may automatically record the program that the user selected or may provide one or more additional confirmation and information screens after the user presses the record key 86. As an example, the interactive television application may display a screen such as record set-up screen 272 of FIG. 22. As shown in FIG. 22, screen 272 may include title and ratings information in region 273 and a program description 274. The user may be provided with information on the scheduled broadcast time for the selected program. If the user desires to record the program, the user may position highlight region 275 on top of YES option 276 and may press OK key 84. If the user does not wish to record the program, the user may position highlight 275 on top of NO option 277 and may press the OK key 84. If desired, other options such as series recording options, recording quality options, and buffer time options may be provided. [0186] When the user directs the interactive television application to record a given program, the interactive television application will record the program using the local capabilities of user equipment 18 or using the network-based video recorder capabilities of the system 10, depending on the equipment of the user, the capabilities of system 10, and system and user settings.

[0187] After the program has been recorded, the user may use the interactive television application to view information on the user's recordings (e.g., using a display screen arrangement of the type shown in FIG. 20) . These techniques for supporting recording functionality in the interactive television application are merely illustrative. Any suitable arrangement for recording (as real recordings or as virtual recordings and locally or on network equipment) may be used if desired.

[0188] The interactive television application may allow the user to establish parental control settings. For example, the user may lock a particular program, a program rating, a channel, a type of content (e.g., violent or sexual content) , or may establish a parental control setting that blocks all television viewing during a particular period of time. A user may be required to enter a personal identification number (PIN) to unlock blocked content.

[0189] With one illustrative arrangement, a parent (or other suitable user) may select a program to block by highlighting the program listing for that program in a suitable program listings screen (e.g., a screen such as screen 138 of FIG. 8). After highlighting the program to be blocked, the parent may press lock key 92 on remote control 72 (FIG. 4) . The parent may also access options for setting parental locks by selecting an on-screen parental control lock option provided by the interactive television application (e.g., option 234 of FIG. 17a, option 244 of FIG. 17b, etc.). [0190] In response to a user selecting an on-screen option or remote control key to access parental control lock options, the interactive television application may display a display screen such as parental controls display screen 278 of FIG. 23a. Parental controls options may be accessed from a main menu, a selected program, or any other suitable program guide screen.

Users may set parental locks for a selected program or a range of programming by selecting from various criteria. For example, users may select to block programs according to title 279, TV rating 280, movie rating 281, channel 282, or any other suitable criteria. Block ratings options 280 and 281 may allow users to block all programming with a given rating (e.g., the same rating as the selected program or a user-input rating or range of ratings) . The user may be provided with other options for applying parental lock settings by selecting, for example, (YES/NO) time block option 283. A user may also select to hide or show adult titles by selecting option 284. Other selectable options may also be provided in screen 278. [0191] If the user has selected "YES" for time block option 283, a time block sub-menu may be provided, for example, screen 286 of FIG. 23b. The user may use the on-screen options of screen 286 to set a beginning time (option 288) and ending time (option 290) for the parental control time period. The user may use option 292 to make the parental control setting effective for all days of the week, certain groups of days (e.g., week days or weekend days) , or a particular day or days. The user may press OK key 84 when finished. Other selectable options may also be provided as part of screen 286. [0192] The parental control screens 278 and 286 of FIGS. 23a and 23b are merely illustrative. Any suitable on-screen options or other user interface arrangement may be used to allow a parent (or other user) to block (parentally-control) programming airing during a particular period of time, programming on a particular channel or channels, programming with a certain rating, individual instances of certain programs, etc.

[0193] An interactive television program guide application may be provided to allow the user to specify additional parental control to effectively restrict potentially objectionable content associated with television programming such as video-on-demand programming. [0194] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may determine whether television programming that has been blocked using parental control has associated video-on-demand programming or other associated content (e.g., Internet content). In response to making such a determination, the interactive television program guide application may automatically apply parental control restrictions that have been placed upon the television programming to the associated content (e.g., to block the associated content) . For example, the interactive television program guide application may determine that MTV channel, which has been blocked by the user, has associated music videos that are available as video-on- demand. The interactive television program guide application may automatically block access to these associated music videos. In another suitable approach, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to specify whether to block access to content associated with the television programming. [0195] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may also block any program listings information or other programming-related information that are associated with the television programming or with the content associated with the television programming. [0196] FIG. 24 shows an illustrative display screen 296 that allows a user to block content that is associated with television programming in accordance with the present invention. As described above, content associated with television programming may be, for example, video-on-demand content, Internet content, or any other suitable associated content. Similar to screen 278 of FIG. 23a, in screen 296, the user may also be provided with independent blocking options such as title option 298, TV rating option 300, and channel option 302. The use may specify any one of these options to achieve the desired blocking effect. For example, to lock or unlock television programming associated with a specific title, rating, or channel, the user may simply highlight the corresponding toggle button 298, 300, or 302 in screen 296, toggle the button until the desired attribute is displayed, and then blocking the television programming having the selected attribute by, for example, pressing a lock key on a remote control. [0197] In this example, the user has highlighted the TV rating button 300 and has toggled to a TV-MA rating. In response to the user pressing the lock key on the remote control to lock television programming having a TV-MA rating, the interactive television program guide application may, from that point forward, block all television programming having a TV-MA rating and may display a padlock icon next to the rating icon to indicate that such blocking has been implemented. If the user happens to be tuned to a TV-MA-rated television program at the time of locking, that program may be immediately blocked (i.e., so that audio associated with the television program will no longer be played in the background, and if there is a video window showing the current television program (not shown), it will also be immediately blocked out. The user may cancel the lock on the TV-MA-rated television programming, for example, by pressing the lock key on the remote control again while the "TV-MA" rating is shown on toggle button 300, which removes the padlock icon and immediately allows the user to watch R-rated television programming.

[0198] Title and channel locks may be implemented in a similar fashion as the rating lock and all three types of locks may be implemented independently from each other. In the case of title locks, locked titles may be unlocked in the manner described above while separate screens may be provided for the user to select titles for locking. In the case of channel locks, the user may use the number keys as well as the left and right arrow keys on a remote control to select the desired channel for locking. As described above, the interactive television program guide application may indicate all locked attributes to the user by displaying a padlock icon next to the attribute when the attribute is displayed, for example, when the user toggles to the attribute using toggle buttons 298, 300, and 302. [0199] In some embodiments of the present invention, the user may additionally be provided with an opportunity to specify blocking of content such as video-on-demand programming, Internet content, and any other suitable content that is associated with all of the television programming that has been blocked. The interactive television program guide application may allow the user to specify blocking of such associated content by, for example, providing a global video-on- demand blocking option 304 and a global associated content blocking option 306. By setting the video-on- demand option 304 and/or other associated content option 306 to "yes," the user instructs the interactive television program guide application to globally block any video-on-demand content and/or other content that is associated with any of the television programming that the user has previously specified for blocking. [0200] For example, if the user has previously chosen to block all R-rated television programming as well as television programming on a number of channels, the user may also block all video-on-demand content and other content that are associated with the blocked R- rated television programming and television programming on the blocked channels by setting options 304 and 306 to "yes."

[0201] Parental control display screen 296 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. [0202] In an alternative or additional approach to the approach described above in connection with FIG. 24, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to specify separate or additional parental control criteria that are to be specifically applied to the blocking of video-on-demand content and other content. For example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to specify such parental control criteria for the blocking of video-on-demand programming and other content during a specific step of program guide setup. In these embodiments, the interactive television program guide application may provide expanded parental control configuration options with respect to those described in connection with FIGS. 23a, 23b, and 24. [0203] Essentially, video-on-demand content and other content associated with television programming may be blocked in accordance with the present invention in at least three ways. According to a first approach, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to specify criteria (e.g., time, rating, etc.) for blocking all programming and may subsequently block all programming, including television programming, video-on-demand programming, and any other content, based on the specified criteria. According to a second approach, the interactive television program guide application, in addition to allowing the user to specify television programming to block, may allow the user to specify whether video-on- demand content and/or other content that are associated with the blocked television programming should also be blocked (see FIG. 24). The interactive television program guide application then blocks the associated video-on-demand content and/or other content in response to the user specifying blocking of such associated content. According to a third approach, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to specify specific criteria for blocking video-on-demand content and other content in addition or separate from blocking of television programming. In other words, the interactive television program guide application may apply these specific blocking criteria for video-on-demand content and other content instead of or in addition to blocking as described above in connection with the other two approaches. Some examples of blocking of video-on- demand content and other content according to this third approach are described below. [0204] FIG. 25 shows an illustrative video-on-demand menu screen 308 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Video-on-demand menu screen 308 may include, for example, a menu 310 of selectable video-on-demand program categories and a selectable video-on-demand configuration button 316. [0205] Prior to parental control configuration, menu 310 may include all available video-on-demand program categories, which may include categories that are potentially objectionable to the user such as adult category 312.

[0206] The interactive television program guide application may provide highlight region 314 to allow the user to interact with screen 308. The user may, for example, move the highlight region using directional buttons 82 (FIG. 4) and then pressing ok button 84 (FIG. 4) to select the highlighted option. Alternatively, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to use, for example, a cursor or other suitable mechanisms, to select an option on screen 308. [0207] Video-on-demand main menu screen 308 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used.

[0208] FIG. 26 shows an illustrative video-on-demand configuration screen 318 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 318 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting video-on-demand configuration button 316 on screen 308 of FIG. 25. Screen 318 may include a menu 320 of configuration options 322-328 that enable the user to adjust the settings of, for example, video display, audio, Internet homepage, parental control, etc. The interactive television program guide application may provide a selectable parental control button 328 in menu 320. The user may manipulate highlight region 330 using suitable buttons on a remote control or any other suitable interface devices to select parent control button 328.

[0209] Video-on-demand configuration screen 318 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other suitable arrangements may be used.

[0210] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to activate a parental control feature for restricting video-on- demand programming and associated content. The interactive television program guide application may also provide an opportunity for the user to customize options associated with the parental control feature. [0211] For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with options for restricting various groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming. The groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming may include, for example, adult-oriented video-on-demand programming, video-on-demand programming associated with TV-MA rating, video-on- demand programming associated with TV-14 rating, or any other suitable groups of potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming. , [0212] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to restrict any potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on-demand programming. The' potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on- demand programming may include, for example, information about the video-on-demand programming (e.g., title, description, etc.), interactive content associated with the video-on-demand programming (e.g., interactive games, surveys, etc.), Internet resources associated with the video-on-demand programming, advertisements, or any other suitable content associated with the video-on-demand programming.

[0213] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to restrict potentially objectionable content associated with the video-on- demand programming without having to restrict access to the actual video-on-demand programming. For example, the interactive television program guide application may restrict access to information about an actor in a video-on-demand movie while allowing the user to view the video-on-demand movie.

[0214] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to restrict attributes of broadcast programming, and may subsequently apply these restrictions to associated video-on-demand programming. For example, in response to the user instructing the interactive television program guide to restrict R- rated broadcast movies, the interactive television program guide may automatically restrict R-rated video- on-demand programming as well.

[0215] FIG. 27 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental control configuration screen 332 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 332 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting parental control button 328 on screen 318 of FIG. 26. Screen 332 may include, for example, toggle button 334 for turning the parent control feature on and off, a menu 336 of parental control options for restricting potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming, button 338 for accessing additional options associated with blocking by program type, button 340 for accessing additional options associated with blocking by program, button 342 for accessing additional options associated with masking of potentially objectionable words, and button 344 for accessing options associated with express setup. [0216] The interactive television program guide application may allow the user to activate the parent control feature and select various parental control options, for example, by placing highlight region 346 over a toggle button such as button 334 and toggle left or right until the desire selection is displayed in the highlighted region. In embodiments where all the toggle buttons associated with user-selectable options are listed vertically, the user may, for example, use the up and down arrows on a remote control to move among the vertically-aligned toggle buttons and may use the left and right arrows of the remote control to toggle selections associated with a particular toggle button as described above. Alternatively, in embodiments where some of the toggle buttons associated with the user-selectable options are shown side by side as in FIG. 27, the user may, for example, use all four directional arrows on a remote control to move among the toggle buttons. A select or enter button on the remote control may be used by the user to select a particular toggle button, which may then allow the user to use the left and right arrow buttons to toggle among the options associated with that particular toggle button. When the user completes the toggle, the user may again use the enter or select button or an exit button on the remote control to exit the toggle button. These methods for allowing user selections of options associated with toggle buttons are merely illustrative and various other suitable methods may be used. [0217] The interactive television program guide application may also allow the user to set various parental control options. For example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to indicate whether the user would like to block all adult-related programming, block programming associated with TV-MA ratings, or block programming associated with TV-14 ratings, using toggle buttons 348, 350, and 352 respectively. [0218] The interactive television program guide application may also provide the user with an opportunity to indicate whether the user would like to block any content associated with each particular type of programming using toggle buttons 354, 356, and 358. [0219] Video-on-demand parental control configuration screen 332 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used.

[0220] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to access additional options for customizing restriction of the potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an option for the user to block video-on-demand programming by program type. The program types may include, for example, music video, action movie, drama movie, comedy, or any other suitable program type. [0221] FIG. 28 shows an illustrative video-on-demand block by program type configuration screen 362 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 362 may be shown in response to, for example, the user selecting button 338 (FIG. 27) to access additional options associated with block by program type.

[0222] Screen 362 may include, for example, menu 364. Menu 364 may include a list of various program types such as music video 366, action movie 368, drama movie 370, etc. Each program type may have an associated mechanism such as toggle button 372 for activating and deactivating the block option. The interactive television program guide application may also provide the user with an opportunity to indicate a desire to block any content associated with the various program types. The interactive television program guide application may present these additional options with associated toggle buttons 374 or any other suitable mechanisms for selection on screen 362.

[0223] The interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to block content associated with a particular program type regardless of whether the user has chosen to block the program type.

[0224] Screen 362 may also include mechanisms such as arrow buttons 376 to allow the user to access additional program types that are not currently shown on the screen. [0225] Video-on-demand block by program type configuration screen 362 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. For example, the user may be presented a list of main categories, and when one of the categories is chosen the user may be presented a list of subcategories within that category that may be blocked. Alternatively, the user may be allowed to select a video-on-demand program from any listing screen and to choose to block its category and/or subcategories. [0226] As another example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to select specific video-on-demand programs to restrict. The interactive television program guide may, for example, provide a selectable list of available video-on-demand programs to allow the user to select specific programs to restrict. The interactive television program guide application may further provide sorting options to allow the user to sort the selectable list of available video-on-demand programming, for example, by name, by program type, by rating, or by any other suitable criteria. [0227] FIG. 29 shows an illustrative video-on-demand block by program configuration screen 378 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 378 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting button 340 (FIG. 27) to access additional options associated with block by program. [0228] Screen 378 may include, for example, menu 380 having a list of video-on-demand programs that are available to the user, various buttons 382-388 for sorting the video-on-demand programs listed in menu 380, and directional buttons 390 for accessing adjacent pages having additional lists of available video-on- demand programs .

[0229] The interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate a desire to restrict any video-on-demand program or its associated content by activating the block option using, for example, toggle button 392. The interactive television program guide application may also allow the user to sort the list of video-on- demand programs in menu 380 in various ways. As an example, the user may select button 382 to display the video-on-demand programs in alphabetical order. As another example, the user may select button 384 to sort the video-on-demand programs by program type such as music video, action movie, drama, etc. As another example, the user may select button 386 to group the video-on-demand programs by its associated television rating or other suitable rating. As yet another example, the user may select button 388 to sort the video-on-demand program by its potentially objectionable language content (e.g., program titles containing a particular keyword or phrase may be grouped together) . [0230] Video-on-demand block by program configuration screen 378 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. For example, the user may be allowed to spell out the names of specific video-on-demand programs to block. Alternatively, the user may be allowed to select a video-on-demand program from any listing screen and to choose to block its title. [0231] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate potentially objectionable keywords to mask, for example, in menus, in screens, or in any other suitable displays. In some of these embodiments, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to choose predefined keywords or keyword groups to mask. Such keyword groups may include, for example, groups of keywords associated with adult content, groups of keywords associated with violent content, groups of keywords that are generally deemed to be unsuitable for children, or any other keyword groups.

[0232] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to define specific keywords to mask. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide a textbox or other suitable input interface in which the user may input or otherwise specify keywords that the user would like to mask.

[0233] FIG. 30 shows an illustrative video-on-demand mask keyword configuration screen 394 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 394 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting button 342 (FIG. 27) to access additional options associated with mask keyword. [0234] Screen 394 may include, for example, toggle button 396 for allowing the user to indicate a desire to mask keywords that may be potentially objectionable to the user. Screen 394 may also include a list of groups of predefined keywords that the user may choose to mask using, for example, toggle buttons 398. The groups of predefined keywords may include, for example, keywords associated with adult content, keywords associated with violent content, keywords that are generally deemed unsuitable for children, or any other predefined keyword groups. This list may also include specific individual keywords. [0235] The interactive television program guide application may also provide options on screen 394 to allow the user to define keywords that the user would like to have masked. In this example, screen 394 includes a textbox 400 in which the user may enter keywords by, for example, using appropriate keys on a remote control, a key pad, an on-screen keyboard, or any other suitable user interface device. [0236] Video-on-demand mask keyword configuration screen 394 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. For example, the user may be allowed to select a video-on- demand program from any listing screen and to choose to block one or more keywords associated with that program.

[0237] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to choose ways in which the interactive television program guide application may display or otherwise indicate restricted video-on-demand programming to the user. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may mask any information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content in any menu, screen, or any other suitable display. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may hide all information associated with the video-on-demand programming or content from view. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may provide shading over any information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content. In yet another example, the interactive television program guide application may alter the appearance (e.g., dim, strike through) of the information about the restricted video-on-demand programming or content. In yet another example, the interactive television program guide application may put an icon or other indicator near the program title. In some embodiments, the application may not offer or may limit the options presented to the user related to how blocked content is presented. [0238] As an example, in FIG. 27, the interactive television program guide application provides an opportunity to allow the user to choose the way with which the interactive television program guide application may indicate the restricted video-on-demand programming to the user, for example, using toggle button 360. Some examples of screens in which restricted video-on-demand programming listings are indicated to the user according to user-selected methods (e.g., masked, shaded, hidden, etc.) are shown in FIGS. 33-36, which will be discussed below. [0239] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to select the restricted video-on-demand programming or content. In response to the user selecting the restricted video-on- demand programming or content, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user for authorization information. Authorization information may be, for example, a parental control code, a voice authentication command, fingerprint authentication, biometric authentication, or any other suitable authentication information for recognizing the user. A parental control code will be used in the following discussion of the present invention for clarity and brevity. It should be understood that any other suitable authorization information may be used. [0240] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user repeatedly for the authorization information until the user selects alternative options or until valid authorization information is submitted by the user. When valid authorization information is received from the user, the interactive television program guide application may display the previously restricted video-on-demand programming or content to the user. In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide may set a maximum number of attempts that the user may make at entering the authorization information. Once the maximum is reached, the interactive television program guide may lock the user out of all restricted content for a period of time without allowing the user to attempt to enter the authorization information again. [0241] FIG. 31 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental ldck screen 402 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 402 may be shown, for example, in response to the user attempting to access video-on-demand programming that has been restricted according to parental control options set during configuration. The user may attempt to access such restricted content by, for example, selecting adult category 312 of FIG. 25. [0242] The user, who is authorized to access the restricted content, may supply a suitable parental control code in textbox 406 of overlay 404. The interactive television program guide application may continue to prompt the user for a parental control code as long as the code supplied by the user is incorrect. Alternatively, the interactive television program guide application may display the previously restricted video-on-demand programming and content to the user upon receiving the correct parental control code from the user.

[0243] Video-on-demand parental lock overlay 404 is merely illustrative of such an overlay. Various other arrangements may be used. [0244] FIG. 32 shows an illustrative video-on-demand category menu screen 408 having a hidden category 410 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Hidden category 410 may represent, for example, adult category 312 (FIG. 25) or any other suitable category that the user may have chosen to keep hidden during parental control configuration. In response to the user selecting hidden category 410, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with, for example, a screen such as screen 402 of FIG. 31 in which the user may supply a parental control code in order to access the hidden category.

[0245] Video-on-demand category menu screen 408 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used.

[0246] FIG. 33 shows an illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screen 414 having shaded video-on-demand program title in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 414 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting movie category 412 from screen 408 of FIG. 32. Screen 414 may include list 416 that lists, for example, video-on- demand movies that are available to the user. The user may access additional video-on-demand movies not currently shown in list 416, for example, by scrolling the list using directional arrows 418. The interactive television program guide application may also enable the user to sort the list of video-on-demand movies in list 416 through provision of, for example, sort buttons 420 and 422.

[0247] In this example, the interactive television program guide application has applied shading to video- on-demand program title 424 in list 416. The interactive television program guide application may apply such shading to a program title in response to the user indicating a desire to shade information about restricted video-on-demand programming. The user may indicate such a desire, for example, using toggle button 360 on screen 332 of FIG. 27.

[0248] In response to the user selecting video-on- demand program 424, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with, for example, a screen such as screen 402 of FIG. 31 in which the user may be asked to supply a parental control code in order to access the blocked video-on- demand programming. [0249] Video-on-demand movies menu screen 414 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. [0250] FIGS. 34-3(6 show three examples of illustrative video-on-demand movies menu screens 426, 432, and 438 that may be displayed by the interactive , television program guide application in place of screen 414 (FIG. 33) depending on, for example, preferences indicated by the user during configuration. [0251] In screen 426, the interactive television program guide application has replaced the potentially objectionable video-on-demand program title 430 in list 428 with a generic replacement title. In screen 432, the interactive television program guide application has masked a part of the potentially objectionable video-on-demand program title 436 in list 434. The interactive television program guide application may have performed the masking in 'response to determining that the masked word was either from a predefined keyword group selected by the user to mask or a word specifically defined by the user to mask

(FIG. 30) . In screen 438, the interactive television program guide application has blocked the entirety of the potentially objectionable video-on-demand program title 442 in list 440.

[0252] Video-on-demand movies menu screens 426, 432, and 438 are merely illustrative of such display screens. Various other arrangements may be used. [0253] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive program guide may provide an opportunity for the user to select a restricted video- on-demand program, for example, to receive information about the video-on-demand program such as program description information. In some of these embodiments, the interactive television program guide application may replace the potentially objectionable program description or other information about the video-on- demand program with generic replacement information that may, for example, inform the user that the actual program description has been replaced because it may include potentially objectionable content. The replacement of this information may be based on configuration settings previously chosen by the user. [0254] FIG. 37 shows an illustrative video-on-demand program information screen 444 having generic replacement information for a potentially offensive program in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 444 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting video-on- demand program 424 (FIG. 33), program 430 (FIG. 34), 436 (FIG. 35), or 442 (FIG. 36).

[0255] Screen 444 may include, for example, the title of the program, a brief description, a description of or link to any interactive content that may be associated with the program, an order button 446 for ordering the video-on-demand program for display, and any other suitable content and options associated with the video-on-demand program. In this example, the interactive television program guide application has masked the title and replaced the program description and interactive content with generic descriptions based on, for example, preferences indicated by the user during configuration of video-on-demand parental control . [0256] In response to the user selecting order button 446 to access the video-on-demand program, the interactive television program guide application may display a screen such as screen 402 (FIG. 31) in which the user may be required to supply a parental control code. [0257] Video-on-demand program information screen 444 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. [0258] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to access video-on-demand programming or content restricted by the parental control feature. The interactive television program guide application may allow such access, for example, upon receiving a correct parental control code or any other suitable authorization information, from the user. The interactive television program guide application may further provide lists of restricted video-on-demand programming. Such lists may include options, for example, to allow the user to sort the restricted video-on-demand programming and content, for example, by name, by program type, by rating, by keyword, or by another suitable characteristic.

[0259] FIG. 38 shows an illustrative video-on-demand restricted programming listing screen 448 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 448 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting hidden category 410 of FIG. 32 and subsequently supplying an appropriate parental control code .

[0260] Screen 448 may include, for example, menu 450 that lists video-on-demand programs that have been restricted in accordance with parental control configurations set by the user. The user may sort the list of video-on-demand programs in menu 450 by, for example, selecting desirable sort buttons 452-458. The interactive television program guide application may also provide on screen 448 buttons 460-464 to allow the user to select the subset of the restricted video-on- demand programs that are restricted by program type, rating, keywords, or any other suitable criteria. [0261] Video-on-demand blocked programming screen 448 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. [0262] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to request additional information associated with the video-on- demand programming that is currently displayed or has otherwise been selected. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide a selectable link for the user to request additional information associated with the currently selected video-on-demand program. Upon receiving such a request from the user, the interactive television program guide application may prompt the user to supply, for example, a parental control code or any other suitable authorization information, if the requested information is restricted video-on-demand programming or content. If a correct parental control code or valid authorization information is received, the interactive television program guide application may display the additional information to the user.

[0263] FIG. 39 shows an illustrative video-on-demand program information screen 466 having additional information associated with the program in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 466 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting a video-on-demand program that is not restricted by parental control from a screen such as screens 414, 426, 432, and 438 of FIGS. 33-36.

[0264] Screen 466 may include, for example, the actual title of the video-on-demand program, a brief description of the program, any interactive content that may associated with the program, and any other suitable content related to the program. In this example, an interesting fact 468 associated with one of the cast members in the video-on-demand program is shown at the bottom of screen 466. A more information button 470 is provided by the interactive television program guide application on screen 466 to allow the user to obtain additional information associated with the topic of the interesting fact. [0265] Video-on-demand program information screen 466 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used.

[0266] FIG. 40 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental lock screen 472 associated with access to additional information in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 472 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting button 470 associated with the interesting fact on screen 466 of FIG. 39. [0267] The interactive television program guide application may show screen 472 to restrict access to such additional information, for example, based on the parental control setting to restrict content associated with a particular video-on-demand program, content associated with a category of video-on-demand programming, or any other suitable content. The interactive television program guide application may restrict access to the associated content of a video- on-demand program regardless of whether access to the actual video-on-demand program is restricted.

[0268] Video-on-demand parental lock screen 472 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other arrangements may be used. [0269] In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may simplify the parental control setup process by providing the user with an express setup option. In response to the user selecting the express setup option, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to indicate a restriction level. The restriction level may be, for example, a level associated with mature audience (e.g., over 18), teen audience (e.g., between 13 and 17), general audience (e.g., all ages), or any other suitable level. Each of the restriction levels may have a predefined set of parental control settings that may include, for example, predefined ratings that are to be restricted, predefined program types that are to be restricted, predefined programs that are to be restricted, predefined keywords that are to be masked, or any other suitable parental control settings. [0270] When the user selects a restriction level, the interactive television program guide application may use the predefined parental control settings associated with the restriction level to restrict the appropriate video-on-demand programming and content. [0271] As an example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to choose a restriction level that is associated with teen audience. This restriction level may be predefined by the interactive television program guide application to include teens between the age of 13 and 17. The interactive television program guide application may then, for example, restrict R-rated video-on-demand movies, music videos involving nudity, and any other suitable video-on-demand programming and associated content that is predetermined to be unsuitable for this audience based on the restriction level. [0272] FIG. 41 shows an illustrative video-on-demand parental control express setup screen 474 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Screen 474 may be shown, for example, in response to the user selecting express setup button 344 in screen 332 of FIG. 27. The interactive television program guide application may allow the user to activate express configuration, for example, by using toggle button 476 to set the express configuration option to on. The interactive television program guide application may also provide an opportunity for the user to choose a restriction level to apply, for example, using toggle button 478. The restriction levels may include, for example, mature audience, teen audience, general audience, and any other suitable level. Once the parental control express configuration is complete, the interactive television program guide application may automatically apply the predefined parental control settings associated with the resection level to restrict video-on-demand programming and content. The interactive television program guide application may allow the user to adjust and customize the parental control settings using, for example, setup screens of FIGS. 27-30.

[0273] Video-on-demand parental control express setup screen 474 is merely illustrative of such a display screen. Various other suitable arrangements may be used.

[0274] FIG. 42 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to restrict potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. At step 480, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate video-on-demand programming to restrict.

[0275] In response to the user indicating the video- on-demand programming to restrict, the interactive television program guide application may restrict the video-on-demand programming indicated by the user thereby preventing access to such programming at step 482.

[0276] The interactive television program guide application may subsequently provide the user with an opportunity to select the restricted video-on-demand programming at step 484. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an option to select a hidden category as shown on screen 408 (FIG. 32) . As another example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an option' to order a restricted video-on-demand program by, for example, selecting order button 446 of FIG. 37. [0277] In response to the user selecting1 the restricted video-on-demand programming, the interactive television program guide application may request submission of a parental control code or other suitable authorization information from the user at step 486. The interactive television program guide application may present such a request as an overlay on a screen such as screen 402 of FIG. 31 or screen 472 of FIG. 40. The interactive television program guide application may repeatedly prompt the user to submit a parental control code until a correct parental control code is received from the user or until the user selects alternative options.

[0278] Upon receiving the correct parental control code or other valid authorization information from the user, the interactive television program guide application may display the previously restricted video-on-demand programming to the user at step 488. [0279] FIG. 43 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to indicate video-on-demand programming to restrict as shown in step 480 of FIG. 42 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. At step 480, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an opportunity to specify video- on-demand programming to restrict. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an option for the user to select a type of video-on-demand programs to block as shown in screen 362 of FIG. 28. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an option for the user to select a particular video-on- demand program to block as shown in screen 378 of FIG. 29. [0280] At step 490, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with an additional opportunity to indicate restriction of any content associated with the video-on-demand programming. The interactive television program guide application may allow the user to restrict content associated with video-on-demand programming independent from restriction of the video-on-demand programming. [0281] FIG. 44 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to hide potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. At step' 492, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate video-on-demand programming to hide. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an option during parental control setup to allow the user to indicate a desire to hide potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming such as video-on-demand programs, their associated content, or any other suitable content.

[0282] In response to the user selecting video-on- demand programming to hide, the interactive television program guide application may hide the indicated video- on-demand programming at step 494. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may completely remove the video-on-demand programming from any suitable list, screen, or any other suitable display. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may replace the selected video-on-demand programming with a hidden content option in any suitable list, screen, or any other suitable display. [0283] The interactive television program guide application may subsequently provide an opportunity for the user to select the hidden video-on-demand programming at step 496. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to select a hidden content option as shown on screen 408 of FIG. 32. As another example, the interactive television program guide application may allow the user to request access to hidden content using, for example, a hidden content button on a remote control.

[0284] Upon receiving user selection of the hidden video-on-demand programming, the interactive television program guide application may require the user to submit a parental control code or other authorization information at step 498. For example, the interactive television program guide application may display screen 402 of FIG. 31 or screen 472 of FIG. 40 to the user in which the user may submit a parental control code. The interactive television program guide application may prompt the user repeatedly for the parental control code until a correct code is submitted or until the user. selects an alternative option. [0285] In response to receiving a correct parental control code or valid authorization information from the user, the interactive television program guide application may display the video-on-demand programming that was previously hidden to the user at step 500. [0286] FIG. 45 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing a user with an opportunity to mask keywords in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. At step 502, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to indicate a desire to mask keywords. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide, during parental control configuration, an option 360 to mask keywords as shown on screen 332 of FIG. 27. [0287] When the user indicates the desire to mask keywords by, for example, selecting option 360 of FIG. 27, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to select predefined keywords to mask at step 504. As an example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with keyword groups associated with various video-on-demand programming categories for selection as shown on screen 394 of FIG. 30.

[0288] In response to the user selecting one or more predefined keywords to mask, the interactive television program guide application may mask the selected keywords at step 506. List 434 of FIG. 35 shows one example of such a masked keyword. [0289] Additionally, in response to the user indicating the desire to mask keywords, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for the user to specify keywords to mask at step 508. For example, the interactive television program guide application may provide the user with a textbox 400 as shown on screen 394 of FIG. 30 or other suitable input interface in which the user may input specific keywords.

[0290] Upon receiving the user-specified keywords, the interactive television program guide application may mask the keywords at step 510. [0291] FIG. 46 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in providing the user with an opportunity to access additional information that is restricted in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. At step 512, the interactive television program guide application may provide an opportunity for a user to request information associated with video-on-demand programming (e.g., information on an actor in a video-on-demand movie, information on the location in a video-on-demand music video, etc.). [0292] ' At step 514, the interactive television program guide application may restrict (e.g., block) the requested information associated with the video-on- demand programming if the interactive television program guide application determines that the requested information includes restricted content. The interactive television program guide application may inform the user that the requested information cannot be displayed because it includes potentially objectionable content.

[0293] The interactive television program guide application may subsequently request authorization information such as a parental control code or any other suitable authorization information from the user at step 516.

[0294] In response to the user supplying valid authorization information, the interactive television program guide application may display the requested information that is associated with the video-on-demand programming to the user at step 518.

[0295] FIG. 47 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in restricting potentially objectionable video-on-demand programming and associated content through selection of restriction levels in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

[0296] At step 520, the interactive television program guide application provides the user with an opportunity to indicate a restriction level. The restriction level may be pre-defined by' the interactive television program guide application to represent, for example, content suitable for mature audience, content suitable for teen audience, content suitable for young audience, content suitable for general audience, and any other suitable level. The various audiences may be, for example, defined by age or any other suitable criteria.

[0297] When the user indicates a restriction level using, for example, toggle button 478 of FIG. 41, the interactive television program guide application restricts video-on-demand programming associated with the user-selected restriction level at step 522. For example, when the user selects a restriction level that corresponds to general audience, the interactive television program guide application may restrict access to R-rated video-on-demand movies, TV-MA rated video-on-demand programming, boxing matches, video-on- demand programming having certain explicit words in the title or description, and any other suitable video-on- demand programming or content deemed unsuitable for viewing by general audience.

[0298] At step 524, the interactive television program guide application provides an opportunity for the user to select the restricted video-on-demand programming.

[0299] In response to the user selecting the restricted video-on-demand programming, the interactive program guide application may request authorization information from the user, for example, using screen 402 of FIG. 31 to request for a parental control code at step 526.

[0300] Upon receiving valid authorization information from the user, the interactive television program guide application displays the video-on-demand programming to the user at step 528.

[0301] FIG. 48 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in restricting access to content associated with television programming in response to restricting the associated television programming in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. [0302] At step 530, the interactive television program guide application provides an opportunity for the user to indicate television programming to restrict. The user may indicate the television programming to restrict, for example, by specifying a television program by title, by specifying one or more television ratings that are associated with television programming, by specifying a channel, by specifying a combination of attributes associated with television programming, or by using any other suitable approach (see FIG. 24) . In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may additionally provide the user with an opportunity to indicate, at step 532, video-on-demand content, Internet content, and/or any other suitable content associated with the television programming that is also to be restricted. The user may indicate restriction of such content, for example, using options 304 and 306 of FIG. 24.

[0303] At step 534, the interactive television program guide application restricts access to the television programming indicated by the user at step 530. In some embodiments of the present invention, the interactive television program guide application may additionally determine, at step 536, whether there exists content such as video-on-demand content, Internet content, or any other content associated with the restricted television programming. If such associated content exists, the interactive television program guide application may, at step 538, determine if such associated content is also to be restricted, for example, by determining if such associated content is to be automatically restricted, by determining if the user has indicated that such associated content is to be restricted (step 532) , etc. If the interactive television program guide application determines that such associated content is to be restricted, the interactive television program guide application additionally restricts the content that are associated with the restricted television programming at step 540.

[0304] Thus, systems and methods for providing parental control of video-on-demand programming and associated content are provided. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the described embodiments, which are presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation, and the present invention is limited only by the claims which follow.

Claims

What is Claimed is:
1. A method for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the television programming is a television channel.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the content associated with the television programming is video-on-demand programming.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the content associated with the television programming is Internet content.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming comprises blocking program listings information associated with the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate content associated with the television programming that is to be restricted.
7. The method of claim 1 further comprising displaying the particular video-on-demand programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
8. The method of claim 1 further comprising displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
9. The method of claim 1 further comprising displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
10. A method for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate video-on-demand programming of at least one program type that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the video-on- demand programming of the at least one program type.
11. A method for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to sort video-on-demand programming by criteria selected from a group comprised of name, program type, rating, and keyword; providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the video-on- demand program.
12. A method for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to information about the at least one video-on-demand program by performing an action selected from a group comprised of hiding information about the at least one video-on-demand program, masking information about the at least one video-on-demand program, replacing information about the at least one video-on-demand program with generic information, altering the appearance of information about the at least one video-on-demand program, and providing shading to information about the at least one video-on-demand program.
13. A method for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked; and masking the at least one keyword, wherein the at least one keyword is associated with the video-on-demand content.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked comprises providing an opportunity for the user to select at least one predefined keyword that is to be masked.
15. A method for restricting content associated with particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to request content associated with the particular video- on-demand programming;' restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming; requesting authorization information from the user; and displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises blocking the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
17. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises hiding information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises masking information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
19. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises replacing information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming with generic information.
20. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises providing shading to information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
21. The method of claim 15, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises altering the appearance of information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
22. The method of claim 15, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
23. The method of claim 15, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
24. The method of claim 15, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
25. The method of .claim 15, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
26. A method for restricting particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate a restriction level; restricting the particular video-on- demand programming associated with the restriction level; providing an opportunity for the user to select the particular video-on-demand programming; requesting authorization information from the user; and displaying the particular video-on- demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
27. The method of claim 26, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with mature audience.
28. The method of claim 26, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with teen audience.
29. The method of claim 26, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with general audience.
30. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one rating that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
31. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with a program type that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
32. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one keyword that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
33. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
34. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises blocking the particular video-on-demand programming.
35. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises hiding information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
36. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises masking information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
37. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises replacing information about the video-on-demand programming with generic information.
38. The method of claim 26, wherein
' restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises altering the appearance of information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
39. The method of claim 26, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises providing shading to information about the video-on- demand programming.
40. The method of claim 26, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
41. The method of claim 26, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
42. The method of claim 26, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
43. The method of claim 26, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
44. A system for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access; and means for restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
45. The system of claim 44, wherein the television programming is a television channel.
46. The system of claim 44, wherein the content associated with the television programming is video-on-demand programming.
47. The system of claim 44, wherein the content associated with the television programming is Internet content.
48. The system of claim 44, wherein the means for restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming comprises means for blocking program listings information associated with the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
49. The system of claim 44, wherein the means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access comprises means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate content associated with the television programming that is to be restricted.
50. The system of claim 44 further comprising means for displaying the particular video- on-demand programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
51. The system of claim 44 further comprising means for displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
52. The system of claim 44 further comprising means for displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
53. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate video-on-demand programming of at least one program type that is to be restricted from access; and means for 'restricting access to the video-on-demand programming of the at least one program type.
54. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to sort video-on-demand programming by criteria selected from a group comprised of name, program type, rating, and keyword; means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and means for restricting access to the video-on-demand program.
55. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and means for restricting access to information about the at least one video-on-demand program by performing an action selected from a group comprised of hiding information about the at least one video-on-demand program, masking information about the at least one video-on-demand program, replacing information about the at least one video-on-demand program with generic information, altering the appearance of information about the at least one video- on-demand program, and providing shading to information about the at least one video-on-demand program.
56. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked; and means for masking the at least one keyword, wherein the at least one keyword is associated with the video-on-demand content.
57. The system of claim 56, wherein the means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked comprises means for providing an opportunity for the user to select at least one predefined keyword that is to be masked.
58. A system for restricting content associated with particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to request content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming; means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming; means for requesting authorization information from the user; and means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
59. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for blocking the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
60. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for hiding information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
61. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for masking information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
62. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for replacing information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming with generic information.
63. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for providing shading to information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming. '
64. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises means for altering the appearance of information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
65. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
66. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
67. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
68. The system of claim 58, wherein the means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
69. A system for restricting particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: means for providing an opportunity for a user to indicate a restriction level; means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level; means for providing an opportunity for the user to select the particular video-on-demand programming; means for requesting authorization information from the user; and means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
70. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with mature audience.
71. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with teen audience.
72. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises means for providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with general audience.
73. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for restricting the particular video- on-demand programming associated with at least one rating that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
74. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for restricting the particular video- on-demand programming associated with a program type that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level .
75. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for restricting the particular video- on-demand programming associated with at least one keyword that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
76. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for restricting content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
77. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for blocking the particular video-on- demand programming.
78. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for hiding information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
79. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for masking information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
80. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for replacing information about the video-on-demand programming with generic information.
81. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for altering the appearance of information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
82. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises means for providing shading to information about the video-on-demand programming.
83. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
84. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
85. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
86. The system of claim 69, wherein the means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises means for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
87. A system for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; a display; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access using the user input device; and restrict access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
88. The system of claim 87, wherein the television programming is a television channel.
89. The system of claim 87, wherein the content associated with the television programming is video-on-demand programming.
90. The system of claim 87, wherein the content associated with the television programming is Internet content.
91. The system of claim 87, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to block program listings information associated with the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
92. The system of claim 87, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide an opportunity for the user to indicate content associated with the television programming that is to be restricted using the user input device.
93. The system of claim 87, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the particular video-on-demand programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user on the display in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
94. The system of claim 87, the control circuitry is further configured to display the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
95. The system of claim 87, the control circuitry is further configured to display the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
96. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to indicate video-on-demand programming of at least one program type that is to be restricted from access using the user input device; and restrict access to the video-on- demand programming of the at least one program type.
97. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to sort video-on-demand programming by criteria selected from a group comprised of name, program type, rating, and keyword; provide an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access using the user input device; and restrict access to the video-on- demand program.
98. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access using the user input device; and restrict access to information about the at least one video-on-demand program by performing an action selected from a group comprised of hiding information about the at least one video-on- demand program, masking information about the at least one video-on-demand program, replacing information about the at least one video-on-demand program with generic information, altering the appearance of information about the at least one video-on-demand program, and providing shading to information about the at least one video-on-demand program.
99. A system for restricting access to video-on-demand content using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked using the user input device; and mask the at least one keyword, wherein the at least one keyword is associated with the video-on-demand content .
100. The system of claim 99, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide an opportunity for the user to select at least one predefined keyword that is to be masked using the user input device.
101. A system for restricting content associated with particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; a display; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to request content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming using the user input device; restrict the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming; requesting authorization information from the user; and display the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
102. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to block the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
103. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to hide information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
104. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to mask information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
105. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to replace information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming with generic information on the display.
106. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide shading to information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
107. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to alter the appearance of information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
108. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
109. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
110. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
111. The system of claim 101, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
112. A system for restricting particular video-on-demand programming using an interactive television program guide application, the system comprising: a user input device; a display; and control circuitry configured to: provide an opportunity for a user to indicate a restriction level using the user input device; restrict the particular video-on- demand programming associated with the restriction level; provide an opportunity for the user to select the particular video-on-demand programming using the user input device; request authorization information from the user; and display the particular video-on- demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
113. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with mature audience using the user input device.
114. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with teen audience using the user input device .
115. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with general audience using the user input device.
116. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to restrict the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one rating that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
117. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to restrict the particular video-on-demand programming associated with a program type that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
118. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to restrict the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one keyword that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
119. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to restrict content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
120. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to block the particular video-on-demand programming.
121. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to hide information about the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
122. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to mask information about the particular video-on-demand programming on the display.
123. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to replace information about the video-on-demand programming with generic information on the display.
124. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to alter the appearance of information about the particular video- on-demand programming on the display.
125. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to provide shading to information about the video-on-demand programming on the display.
126. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
127. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
128. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
129. The system of claim 112, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to display the particular video-on-demand programming to the user on the display in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
130. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
131. The machine-readable media of claim 130, wherein the television programming is a television channel .
132. The machine-readable media of claim 130, wherein the content associated with the television programming is video-on-demand programming.
133. The machine-readable media of claim 130, wherein the content associated with the television programming is Internet content.
134. The machine-readable media of claim 130, wherein restricting access to the television programming and the content associated with the television programming comprises blocking program listings information associated with the television programming and the content associated with the television programming.
135. The machine-readable media of claim 130, wherein providing an opportunity for a user to indicate television programming that is to be restricted from access comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate content associated with the television programming that is to be restricted.
136. The machine-readable media of claim 130 is further encoded with machine-readable instruction for displaying the particular video-on-demand programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
137. The machine-readable media of claim 130 is further encoded with machine-readable instruction for displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
138. The machine-readable media of claim 130 is further encoded with machine-readable instruction for displaying the restricted television programming and the content associated with the television programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
139. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate video-on-demand programming of at least one program type that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the video-on- demand programming of the at least one program type.
140. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to sort video-on-demand programming by criteria selected from a group comprised of name, program type, rating, and keyword; providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to the video-on- demand program.
141. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one video-on-demand program that is to be restricted from access; and restricting access to information about the at least one video-on-demand program by performing an action selected from a group comprised of hiding information about the at least one video-on-demand program, masking information about the at least one video-on-demand program, replacing information about the at least one video-on-demand program with generic information, altering the appearance of information about the at least one video-on-demand program, and providing shading to information about the at least one video-on-demand program.
142. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked; and masking the at least one keyword, wherein the at least one keyword is associated with the video-on-demand content.
143. The machine-readable media of claim 142, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate at least one keyword that is to be masked comprises providing an opportunity for the user to select at least one predefined keyword that is to be masked.
144. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to request content associated with the particular video- on-demand programming; restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming; requesting authorization information from the user; and displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
145. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises blocking the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
146. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises hiding information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
147. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises masking information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
148. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises replacing information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming with generic information.
149. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises providing shading to information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
150. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein restricting the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming comprises altering the appearance of information about the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
151. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
152. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
153. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
154. The machine-readable media of claim 144, wherein displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
155. Machine-readable media for restricting access to content associated with television programming using an interactive television program guide application, wherein the media is encoded with machine-readable instruction for performing the method comprising: providing an opportunity for a user to indicate a restriction level; restricting the particular video-on- demand programming associated with the restriction level; providing an opportunity for the user to select the particular video-on-demand programming; requesting authorization information from the user; and displaying the particular video-on- demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user.
156. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with mature audience.
157. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with teen audience.
158. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level comprises providing an opportunity for the user to indicate a restriction level associated with general audience.
159. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one rating that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
160. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with a program type that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
161. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with at least one keyword that is predefined as restricted by the restriction level.
162. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises restricting content associated with the particular video-on-demand programming.
163. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises blocking the particular video-on-demand programming.
164. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises hiding information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
165. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises masking information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
166. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises replacing information about the video-on- demand programming with generic information.
167. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises altering the appearance of information about the particular video-on-demand programming.
168. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein restricting the particular video-on-demand programming associated with the restriction level comprises providing shading to information about the video-on-demand programming.
169. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid parental control code from the user.
170. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving a valid voice command from the user.
171. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid fingerprint authentication from the user.
172. The machine-readable media of claim 155, wherein displaying the particular video-on-demand programming to the user in response to receiving valid authorization information from the user comprises displaying the particular video-on-demand .programming to the user in response to receiving valid biometric authentication from the user.
PCT/US2004/000851 2003-01-13 2004-01-13 Systems and methods for providing parental control of vod programming WO2004064377A2 (en)

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