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How to instantly improve your holiday TV viewing

How to instantly improve your holiday TV viewing
'Yule Dogs' is one of Cox's On Demand features for the holidays. (Photograph Courtesy of Cox Communications)

Do you wish you could watch whatever you want, wherever and whenever on any device you want? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the volume of programming choices and wish you could set up personalized viewing lists? Well, your dreams are about to come true.

Launched in 2013 and recently upgraded to a second generation, Cox Contour checks off all of the items on that wish list. This highly intuitive and personalized content delivery system enables fast and easy access to shows that suit the preferences of up to eight separate users in the household on whatever device suits them best.

Contour also allows customers to create personal guidelines to help you choose from about 80,000 hours of VOD (video on demand) movies and shows, as well as offerings from "live" TV.

Contour also offers a number of features specifically for the holiday season. "When you go into VOD there's a Holidays folder," says Tarlin Lanese, senior manager of product marketing operations for Cox.


"There's something like 60 Christmas and Hanukkah movies in there," he says. "It also finds all the episodes of all the TV shows that have a holiday theme. So if you're a fan of 'Cheers' from a long time ago and there was a huge episode with a holiday theme, it's in that folder. It also has a whole section dedicated to just kids. You might even find something in the Holiday folder like 'Krampus,' which I guess technically is a horror movie, but it's also a holiday movie."

Lanese says that one of Contour's most popular features is voice command, which lets viewers summon up their favorite programs or search for things they might want to watch by simply speaking into the remote control.

“You can do things like say a title, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ and it'll pull up that particular movie. You can say actor names like 'Bill Murray' and it will show you everything that Bill Murray is in. You can even just say words like 'You'll shoot your eye out.' And guess what returns? ‘A Christmas Story.’ It's pretty cool. And very, very fast,” he says.

Viewers can also use voice command to control the rest of their Contour cable box. For instance, they can say something like "Record 'It's A Wonderful Life'" and the box will just do it. There's a lot of depth to the system as well. In addition to displaying the titles of movies and TV shows that an actor starred in, the system generates a bio and a list of all the actors he or she has acted alongside.

Of course, customers can still use text entry on the remote control to find things they want to watch. Either way, Contour is an improvement over previous means to locate and call up programming.

Dina Taylor, a longtime Cox Communications customer living in Mission Viejo, California, upgraded to Contour about eight months ago. So far, she says, she can't get enough.

"My husband is a huge sports fan," Taylor says, "so he likes the Sports App. We both love the 'voice control' feature. This feature is awesome because we tape a lot of shows, and it allows us to speak into the remote to record the show without having to remember what time or day the show is on."

She also praises the screensavers, news clips and weather info as among her favorite features of Contour. From flaming yule logs and winter snow scenes to Christmas puppies and kittens, Contour's special holiday screensavers are designed to help set the mood whether you're entertaining or just want to "cozy up" your home. And you can add some holiday music to your home with Contour's holiday-themed music channel.

Lanese offers this advice for the holiday season: "Honestly, spend time with your family and friends. Curl up on the couch to watch a movie or set the music in the background and do nothing at all but be together. It's about family," he says.

— Joe Yogerst for Cox Communications