NDS Adds Jinni for Video Recommendations

Finding what you want to watch on TV is going to be a big problem in the coming years as more video choices crowd into your living room. As a result, recommendations will play an increasingly important role in our video discovery. To that end, NDS, which makes middleware and applications for multi-service operator set-top boxes, announced today that it has launched its Recommendations Engine Partner Programme, and video recommendation service Jinni is the first company to join.
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. cable customers conducted by NDS, having TV recommendations was one of the top applications desired for their cable service.

Jinni’s recommendations are powered by the company’s Movie Genome and can provide suggestions based on previous viewing patterns, mood-based browsing, or a semantic search like “action with a surprise twist.”
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iTunes 9 Genius: It’s in the Mix

iTunes IconHaving spent a day with iTunes 9 and OS 3.1 on an iPhone and iPod touch, I find that I am completely smitten with a feature I pretty much completely ignored before yesterday. I’m referring to Genius, which hadn’t lived up to its name until this latest retooling.

Since upgrading to iTunes 9, I’ve used Genius Mixes exclusively on both my computer and my portable devices. Contrast this to the two or three times I ever used a Genius playlist since their introduction in iTunes 8. Read More about iTunes 9 Genius: It’s in the Mix

YouTube Looks to Unexpected Recommendations

YouTube_logoYouTube (s GOOG) is taking a page from Netflix (s NFLX), looking to recommendations as a way to squeeze a few more video views (with ads) out of its massive audience. Only this time around, the recommendations YouTube wants to make are of a more unexpected variety. The Wall Street Journal writes:

So Walk and his team are now trying to figure out how to find new topics to engage users, a process he calls “manufacturing spontaneity.” The “serendipity of YouTube,” he said, is to show people a “selection of videos you didn’t intend to see but are very compatible. I didn’t come here to watch this. But somehow I find myself watching 10 videos about topic blah.”

The article provides the example of how someone who watches Van Halen videos might get “fatigued” after viewing a bunch of them in a row, so YouTube might generate a recommendation to watch scuba videos (Snorklin’ With the Devil?) instead.
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How About a Last.fm for Movies?

whiwaIs it time for a Last.fm for TV shows and movies? That’s the question a new online video platform called Whiwa.net is raising. Whiwa is a video community based on scrobbling –- the act of automatically tracking your media consumption habits and sharing them with the world — that is at the core of Last.fm’s social and recommendation features.

Whiwa is run by two developers out of the Czech Republic. The duo told me they have a lot of plans for their platform, but at this point it’s clearly still very experimental. However, the idea behind it is certainly interesting, and it begs the question: Could a movie site like this eventually become as big as Last.fm? Or is video just too different of a beast than music?

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Genius Extended to Movies and TV in iTunes 8.1

picture-45I still have a lot of music-savvy friends who deny the validity of the the name Genius for Apple’s (s aapl) recently implemented iTunes music recommendation engine, but regardless of how appropriate the name may be, the service has now been turned on for movies and TV, too. That means selecting any movie or TV show in your library should bring up Genius recommendations in the sidebar, so long as you have it turned on and are using iTunes 8.1.
Genius results are about as accurate as you might expect based on your experience with its usage regarding music. The top results are always episodes from the same series and season as the content from your library. When I tested it out using “Battlestar Galactica,” Season 1, recommendations from beyond the series were fairly accurate, at least getting the genre right, and included “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Firefly” among the top results. A similar test with “Heroes,” a far more mainstream program, brought back bizarre results, with the top recommendation outside of the series itself being Dexter. Only parallel I can draw between the two is that Dexter is a serial killer and Sylar is sort of one too. And both star hot girls, maybe?
picture-51You also get a new TV Shows tab in the Genius: Just for You subsection of the iTunes store main page. As you can tell from the screenshot from my own recommendations, I am indeed a huge nerd, and aside from Supernatural, iTunes knows me all too well. I suppose it would have shown me Movies recommendations as well, but I don’t actually own any iTunes-purchased movies as of yet. Let us know in the comments how well those recommendations are working out.

GigPark: Turning Social Networks into Testimonials

gparkIn professional services, you are only ever as good as your last engagement. Which is to say, if you have no one to vouch for the quality of your work, then you’ll probably have a hard time finding more.

Traditionally, the best way to sell to future prospects was by shopping around the recommendations of previous employers. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy, but clients may be skeptical because you control who is providing testimonials, not people they already know and trust.

GigPark means to bring word-of-mouth recommendations to the web, using a social network model. You can browse existing recommendations just by visiting the site, but the innovative twist offered by GigPark comes into play when you register an account with the site.

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Jinni Raises $1M for Video Discovery

Jinni, a video search and discovery service, has raised $1 million from Israeli investment collective Startup Factory, according to Globes Online.

Jinni doesn’t have a live site, but it appears to be looking to license its personalized recommendation technology to TV and online video operators, similar to the strategy of another Israeli video discovery startup we’ve covered, Taboola. Recommendations are definitely an interesting and somewhat unexplored aspect of online video, but we haven’t seen significant business development to back up this licensing model. You might be better off competing for the Netflix prize.

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