beeTV Takes Video Recommendations to the TV

Recommendation services, especially for online video, are a dime a dozen these days. But here’s one that’s a bit different: beeTV, which launched at DEMO today, is a content recommendation platform for TV operators that compiles a personalized channel of VOD content for each of that operator’s customers.

And hey, this is neat: The company’s tech team is led by Gavin Potter, who was recently profiled in Wired magazine for being “Just a guy in a garage” (his actual handle), albeit one who was kicking ass on the Netflix Prize (the DVD rental company’s open bounty to improve its recommendation system by 10 percent).

Milan-based beeTV says for TV operators it can be a marketing aid, and for consumers, a source of relief from dealing with overwhelming (but uninspiring) choices of what to watch. The idea, said beeTV chairman and founder Rodolfo Hecht, is “to give you satisfaction for what you already paid for.”

beeTV isn’t without its own limitations — recommendations are based on and restricted to only the provider’s content, and consumers don’t actually have accounts on the platform (metadata is gathered implicity) — but I like that it’s trying to get in on middleware instead of going direct to the web. And getting excellent data for making recommendations would require being invasive — like, for instance, Comcast’s musing that it might build cameras into its receivers to know which family member is sitting in front of the TV.

As for actual customers, Hecht told us today that the company has a deal signed with “one of the biggest IPTV players” that it can’t announce yet. Clearly, the peril of not interacting directly with consumers is that beeTV won’t go anywhere unless it can sign up IPTV, cable and satellite customers.

beeTV has 30 employees and is self-funded. Hecht recently sold his last company, a sports-oriented rights management company called Media Partners, to Infront for an undisclosed amount.