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Two and counting in US recommendation TV


Published: 11 January, 2013


Recommendation systems are still too low on the agenda for US pay TV companies. Automated recommendation is THE next step after the EPG, which was only a short stopping off space after zapping channel to channel.

If you spend more time looking for something to watch, than you do watching, it takes all the enjoyment out of TV and if you want to get straight down to watching, a recommendation system, just has to be the way to go. As people transfer viewing to smaller devices, they'll view content in shorter periods, which means they have to find content immediately and the only way that can happen is with recommendation systems which work as the ONLY route to content.

With the announcement this week that DigitalSmiths technology will drive Time Warner Cable, but this is one of only three companies at CES offering progress on recommendation. One other system on show was the already announced Cox deal with ThinkAnalytics, which powers its new Trio guide. This has already been launched to all Cox markets. It first went live to an initial market area in mid-November, and has now been deployed across the entire footprint in a month. The more people that use a system like this, the more they will tell others about it, and draw a response from TV rivals.

The other one was the launch of S-Recommendation on the Samsung smart hub for its latest F8000 LED TV. This devices comes with a quad core processor with immense engine power and it also offers voice controls through the microphone on the remote.

We're not sure that recommendations will work on a Smart TV, because it doesn't know any details about the services it is being attached to, and can only work by mashing together the metadata that comes to the device in the EPG.

But even this activity is a sign that the US is waking up to a new way to watch TV. Interestingly the R&D consortium of the collective cablecos in the US, CableLabs, has never considered it part of its remit to investigate and design an accredited recommendation program - strange since it is the next most important technology after delivery, something it solely focused on.

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