What is EPG and How Does it Work?

Shalabh Agarwal Nov 6th, 2023

EPG- EPG stands for Electronic Programming Guide. It is an electronically generated list of content broadcast by a channel over a certain period. From the broadcaster’s perspective, it is a timetable for promoting their content. This timetable can be a day-long, a week-long, a month-long, or sometimes even longer. However, viewers usually watch the schedule for a limited period.

In most modern broadcast systems, this EPG is generated automatically, where the broadcaster feeds the list of content into the system as an XML, HTML, or CSV file.

In other words, EPG stands for Electronic Program Guide. This on-screen menu tells you what TV and radio programs are available on your television. You usually find the EPG by pressing a button like ‘Guide’ on your TV/set-top box remote control.

EPG functionality varies slightly depending on your platform (Freeview, Freesat, Sky, etc.). Most allow you to see which programs will be available up to a week in advance. Some offer additional functionality, such as seeing what programs were on last week and then watching them using an on-demand player such as BBC iPlayer.

EPG Time Shift

We often have to move away from the TV screen, so we miss some content. But, if we pause or rewind the content shown in a channel, we can also enjoy the missed parts when we return. This is possible using EPG Time Shift. EPG Time Shift lets you pause, rewind, and fast-forward the current content on the EPG. It helps us in many ways:

Viewers can re-watch the content parts that we have missed. 

By using fast-forward, we can skip unnecessary songs and unwanted scenes. We can pause the content to move on to meaningful work.


When we stream content through an IPTV box, we can see the list of scheduled content to be broadcasted by the various channels being streamed by that box. This serves as an illustration of EPG  functionality within IPTV. In IPTV, there is an electronic programming guide software that lets you develop a schedule of content that your channel (in the case of Roku) or app (in the case of others) will stream so that your consumers know when they Can stream. You will be able to watch your favorite shows. On the front end, the EPG lets viewers browse the content streamed by all the channels and the upcoming performances of the next few days.

How EPG is Used?

If you are a broadcaster, you might wonder how to use EPG for your channel. It would help if you started by using a list of content with their streaming time slots based on the content available to you and your audience’s preferences. Be careful when setting this schedule, as sometimes the timing of your shows can affect their viewership. Therefore, you need to schedule your content when you expect maximum audience.

Once you finalize the schedule, you must feed your plan into the headend system. If you use a traditional headend system, this process may take longer to complete. But nowadays, digital headend and IPTV headend have simplified this process.

Once you upload the schedule to the headend, your EPG schedule is transmitted by the particular video character generation (CG) equipment in your headend to the broadcast server, from where it is broadcast to the audience.


Broadcasters can use electronic programming guides to provide additional information about their channel’s content. The list of upcoming shows helps them retain their audience, as the audience knows when the performances of their interest will be aired. Additionally, because viewers can view the entire content catalog, they often come back to watch more content even after watching their favorites.

How has EPG evolved

Media company United Video Satellite Group launched the first EPG in North America through a cable channel, The Electronic Program Guide, in 1981, giving way to the EPG channel two years later. Through this, cable TV subscribers in the United States and Canada could view the channel’s program schedule up to 1.15 hours before broadcast by tuning into the channel’s EPG.

A few decades later, the name was changed to Preview Guide, TV Guide Network, or TV Guide Channel. Cable subscribers also benefited from the Super Guide system in the 90s when it became part of the Uniden 4800 receiver, which was made commercially available then.

Program information for up to two weeks was available for access. Suppose a program of their interest is currently playing. In that case, a simple button press will redirect them to their favorite channel.


Finally, electronic program guides (EPG) and interactive program guides (IPG) display scheduling information for current and upcoming broadcast programs (usually television listings) to users of television, radio, and other media applications. So these are the essential points that we will cover in this article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Ans: Accessing an EPG on your TV is usually straightforward. You can open the EPG by pressing the “Guide” or “EPG” button on your remote control. This action will display a grid-like interface on your screen, allowing you to browse through the available channels and program schedules. The specific button and process may vary depending on your TV or cable/satellite service provider.

Ans: Yes, most EPGs allow you to customize your viewing preferences. You can typically filter the EPG to display only the channels and programs you’re interested in. This customization option ensures that you have quick access to your favorite content without having to scroll through an extensive list of channels.

Ans: Yes, many streaming services and online content providers offer EPGs as well. These digital EPGs are often integrated into their user interfaces, making it easy for viewers to browse and discover content, including live TV channels and on-demand shows. You can usually access them on smart TVs, streaming devices, and mobile apps.

Ans: In addition to program schedules, EPGs can provide additional information about the shows or movies, such as brief descriptions, ratings, and sometimes even cast and crew details. Some EPGs also include advanced features like the ability to set reminders for upcoming shows, record programs, or explore on-demand content, depending on your TV service or device.

Ans: Yes, you can access EPGs on mobile devices and computers through compatible applications or websites offered by your TV service provider or third-party apps. These digital EPGs provide you with the convenience of checking program schedules, setting reminders, and discovering content on the go. Just download the relevant app or visit the website to access the EPG from your mobile device or computer.

Shalabh Agarwal - Co-founder, Enveu
Shalabh Agarwal is the co-founder of Enveu, one of the fastest-growing App automation and OTT solutions providers. Shalabh oversees the global businesses for Enveu and has been working in the Technology and SaaS space for over 15 years.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for Streaming Solutions?

  • Go-Live on 12+ platforms
  • Zero Revenue Share
  • Multiple Monetization Models
  • 50+ Integrations

get a demo today

Take control of your digital media strategy.
Contact us for a no-obligation demo of the Experience
Cloud, tailor-made for you!

    By Continuing, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy