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What is a Digital TV Listing?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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A digital TV listing is a guide to the television programming available through a particular provider, and is typically accessed through the TV. Whether digital TV is received through cable, satellite, or another type of receiver, almost all providers now offer a digital TV listing for their subscribers. The TV listing might be interactive, allowing the user to scroll through independently, or it might be a static scrolling channel that simply lists the television show schedule.

The basic concept of a digital TV listing is that it includes a few key pieces of information. These are the date, the time, the channels, the name of the television show, and the length of the television show. Many digital TV listings also include a brief summary of the program, as well as a notation as to whether or not the episode is new or a repeat. This information is used by Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, which can be programmed to only record new episodes of television shows.

In an interactive digital TV listing, the user can scroll through the guide, viewing what is currently airing as well as the shows that will air in the future -- generally for up to approximately one week. Some providers may offer information for the schedule further into the future. If the user has a DVR connected, he or she can select the shows to be recorded by scrolling through the guide. The guide may also show channels that are not currently being subscribed to, but this allows the user to see what is available that he or she would like to subscribe to those channels -- such as sports channels, movie channels, or music channels.

Another type of digital TV listing might also be a set scrolling guide, which the user cannot scroll through independently. This type of listing is usually just set on a specific channel, and was much more common in the past with analog television. The television listing here will only be able to show what is currently playing, as well as what will air in the next hour or two.

A digital TV listing may also be available online for free, though not all television providers offer this service. Some types of digital video recorders will allow the user to set shows to record from the Internet, which is especially convenient. Various network channels will also offer their television show schedules online for free.

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