Light Reading

Rovi Makes It Personal

Mari Silbey

Just two months after acquiring Veveo for $62 million in cash, Rovi has launched a new Personalized Discovery Solution combining its own entertainment metadata with Veveo's voice-enabled semantic search technology. The solution for pay-TV operators offers predictive search and a content recommendation platform. Rovi's metadata supplies contextual program information, while Veveo's machine-learning technology -- also called its "Knowledge Graph" -- adapts to a viewer's behavior over time to refine and personalize the user interface experience.

Rovi Corp. is also including Conversation Services in its new search-and-recommendation engine. Built by Veveo Inc. , this technology enables an interactive dialog between users and the on-screen program guide. Veveo Chief Marketing Officer Samrat Vasisht once described the service as "Siri for your TV," referring to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s voice recognition software. (See Rovi Snaps Up Veveo.)

Rovi has been a leader in the TV guide business through several company incarnations, starting out as Gemstar-TV Guide International, then getting acquired by Macrovision before Macrovision changed its name to Rovi in 2009. The company's UIs were once on nearly every Motorola cable set-top, but the program guide market has gotten more crowded in recent years, and Rovi faces numerous competitors today. In response, Rovi has not only added to its guide capabilities, but also expanded into new businesses, including interactive advertising and audience data analytics. (See Macrovision Resets as 'Rovi'.)

John Burke, who joined Rovi in March after leading corporate strategy and development at Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), referenced new monetization opportunities enabled by the Personalized Discovery Solution. In the company press release Burke said:

    While we believe more personalized discovery services will delight subscribers and ignite greater engagement, they also represent an opportunity for providers to differentiate their services, fuel retention and increase the lifetime value of a subscriber. Moreover, when combined with additional Rovi services, personalization creates the opportunity for more tailored and addressable advertising and, based on the availability of return-path data from set-tops and second screens, the opportunity to analyze consumption habits to further refine and personalize the entertainment experience.

The Rovi Personalized Discovery Solution joins the Rovi Cloud Platform. Rovi notes that the personalization technology "may also be tightly integrated in Rovi Connected Guides, for use on Smart TVs, mobile phones and tablets."

In the search-and-recommendation space, Rovi contends with a handful of noteworthy competitors. These include ThinkAnalytics Ltd. , Jinni Media Ltd. , and Digitalsmiths Corp. , which was recently bought by TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO).

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/29/2014 | 6:48:14 PM
Re: Recommendations
kq4ym - It makes for an easier viewing experience -- if it works. Siri has problems if you hold the phone to your mouth. How accurate will your set-top box be if you're shouting to it while the kids are screaming and dog is barking?
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2014 | 5:27:55 PM
Re: Recommendations
It may be that time will tell whether voice commands will increase profits. If it makes for an easier tv experience and can be combined with additional choices that lead to extra sales and/or loyalty, it should be a no-brainer. The question is who will come up on top of the heap with many competitors certainly entering the field pretty radidly.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/28/2014 | 12:20:33 PM
Is there evidence shnowing to what extent recommended programming and voice control improve customer loyalty and increase viewing times?

As for recommended programming: It seems to be effective for Netflix and people do sit and surf random recommended YouTube videos, so it stands to reason that it would also be attractive for cable TV. But I'd love to see evidence of how effective it is. 
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