Light Reading

Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
6/28/2012
50%
50%

A U.K.-based startup has made notable progress with a content recommendation engine that mines metadata and tracks usage patterns to help customers seek out and find content they might actually like.

Considering the almost bewildering array of linear and on-demand content now available to viewers, perhaps it's not surprising that the tool, developed by ThinkAnalytics Ltd. , is gaining traction with pay-TV providers.

The company is trying to solve a freedom of choice paradox (apologies to Devo) faced by consumers -- they like having the breadth and depth of content but still need some help finding the content they might want to watch.

Recommendation engines are already popular among over-the-top (OTT) video providers such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). But ThinkAnalytics says its engine goes beyond the "light touch collaborative filtering" that some OTT players use by tapping into metadata and other information gathered not just from VoD usage and live TV channel surfing, but also by factoring in their preferences for non-video content such as books and games. The result of that work creates a "unique preference profile" of the customer, says Chairman Eddie Young.

And that process isn't limited to the set-top box. ThinkAnalytics says its technology can be built into guides driving navigation systems on tablets, smartphones, PCs and other connected devices that have become key to TV Everywhere strategies.

And the idea is gaining traction with pay-TV providers. The U.K.-based company claims that its technology currently is built into navigation systems that are in front of 70 million customers, and counts Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), Telenet and Unitymedia GmbH (now part of Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)) among its major customers.

It's also working with three unnamed service providers in North America, including two "very large cable companies" that are just about to deploy the technology, as well as a smaller IPTV operator, Young says.

It's maybe worth noting at this point that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s IP-capable X1 platform, which is set to launch soon in Boston, will sport a recommendation engine.

Why this matters
As cable continues to expand its content libraries and TV Everywhere efforts, the use of slick, cloud-based navigation systems probably aren't enough to help video customers discover content without going through a laborious process.

The use of recommendation engines will give pay-TV operators access to the sort of navigation tools that have helped to popularize OTT video services and should help to improve customer satisfaction levels.

And tying a recommendation engine to these new interfaces could help cable operators improve VoD sales levels well beyond what they've been able to generate from older, more limited menu-driven guides that require users to search for content on their own.

For more



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:28:59 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


I've found no problems when I know what I'm looking for (ie. the latest episode of Game of Thrones) , but cable Vod's not really set up well for browsing to the point that i never start up that menu just to poke around.  but suppose recommendations and a little smartening up of the service wouldn't hurt.  JB

shygye75
50%
50%
shygye75,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:28:59 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


There's a reason it's called the "idiot box" by some.

AESerm
50%
50%
AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:28:58 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


Interesting to hear Think Analytics describe collaborative filtering as so-last-year, or as a "good but early" step, as I reported here. Used to be that Netflix or Amazon was the model. Could this be a leap-frog moment? Granted, with so many idiots both watching and appearing on the screen, these algorithms could be the smartest game in town. 

shygye75
50%
50%
shygye75,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:28:57 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


It looks to be another step in the direction of, "Let's give people what we can" rather than "Let's give people what they want."

shygye75
50%
50%
shygye75,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:28:56 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


"We notice you've watched three episodes of Jersey Shore. Based on your viewing habits, we recommend that you walk seven blocks south to the Liquorama outlet, buy the gallon-sized bottle of Grey Goose, walk seven blocks north back to your home, and drink the contents of the bottle you purchased." Welcome to Nirvana.

craigleddy
50%
50%
craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:28:56 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


Much depends on how well the app is designed and how well it works. I think a well-done recommendation engine (as well as better search tools and bookmarking) could be helpful to find something to watch amid the vast wasteland of TV. Such tools could be an asset for on-demand recording and viewing, sampling new shows and movies, and tracking your favorite actors and celebrities. 


Think of it this way, Dennis: You could set it up so you would never miss Lady Gaga on TV again. Doesn't that sound appealing?...Well, OK, maybe not the best example. 


 


 

Nikki Ralston
50%
50%
Nikki Ralston,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:28:49 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


Collaborative Filtering is more like 'so 10 years ago' for entertainment discovery. When Amazon first started using it, it was the best thing available. CF is still one of the best techniques to use when there is no meaningful information available about the items being recommended. It is essentially statistical 'blind guessing'. So engines that know absolutely nothing about the content beyond generic metadata are still using this, because  they don't have anything better.


TA claims they use 'systematic metadata analysis'. Not sure what this means. Metadata is superficial and contains no nuanced details about the plot, mood, style, etc. So this is a classic 'garbage in, garbage out' situation. Discovery that relies on generic underlying metadata is never going to deliver much beyond the metadata.


You and I may both like comedies, but you prefer offbeat, cynical, witty comedies about dysfunctional families and I like sentimental, gross out humor about teenage life and obsessive quests.  Metadata, no matter how you analyzeit, will never understand tastes on this level.

Nikki Ralston
50%
50%
Nikki Ralston,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:28:48 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


VOD is hugely undermonetized because the discovery is so bad (It's often like browsing the shelves of a library organized by the Dewey decimal system.


Making it a little better will increase profits a little, but VOD has huge revenue potential- HUGE!


Discovery is the dynamite that will blow this mine open.  

shygye75
50%
50%
shygye75,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:28:48 PM
re: Brits Rev Up Recommendation Engine


Hi, Nikki -- Rather than mess with collaborative filtering, I think we've hit on a better way to make this stuff work: Train users to simply follow the recommendations of their favorite devices. It won't work with everyone, but I think we can reach critical mass with this strategy. We've had a few generations of prep work, courtesy of mass-market advertising.


 

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Predicting Traffic Patterns for Quality Mobile Broadband

4|29|15   |   6:45   |   (0) comments


Accessing information ubiquitously creates complexity and creates heavy traffic onto the network, especially at large-scale events like sporting events or festivals. In this video, Huawei's Mohammad Hussain speaks to experts about how to predict traffic and improve user experience during periods of heavy traffic.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is not the easiest of topics to take on board, so here's a Light Reading infographic, developed following conversations with the folks at HP, that helps make sense of where NFV is taking the industry.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Verizon Saves 60% Swapping Copper for Fiber
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/19/2015
Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 5/18/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones