A small Scottish technology firm is about to make finding stuff to watch on TV smarter for some U.S. viewers.
Content-recommendation technology provider ThinkAnalytics, a 57-person company based in Glasgow, has struck deals with two major American MSOs as well as a small operator, according to chairman Eddie Young. He declined to identify the customers.
All told, ThinkAnalytics has deals with 20 operators worldwide representing more than 70 million subscribers, including BskyB, Virgin Media, ITV, Telenet and Unitymedia.
When the U.S. operators go live, they will cover 15%-20% of the TV viewers in the States, Young said. “We expect the U.S. to come on strong,” he said.
Unlike some competitors, ThinkAnalytics provides content recommendations across VOD and linear TV listings: “Just VOD is simpler to do. Live recommendations across hundreds of channels across an EPG that changes every 15 minutes — that’s more challenging,” Young said.
Peter Docherty, ThinkAnalytics’ founder and CTO, says the company’s recommendation engine crunches data from a variety of sources, including subscriber ratings and selections, set-tops, metadata, time of day or week, and the state of content that is currently available.
The results can be impressive, if the stats from ThinkAnalytics are to be believed: In some cases customers receiving recommendations purchased up to 60% more than average.
At the same time, Docherty said, “It’s certainly possible to really annoy customers” with recommendations. For example, an operator should avoid recommending content that isn’t available in the customer’s programming package: “They just see that as an ad to get them to upgrade their TV service.”
Programming Note: Find out how operators and media companies are tapping into cloud-based technologies at TV’s Cloud Power, Thursday, July 19, at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. Scheduled speakers include Bob Fox, head of IBM Global Business Services’ Telecom, Media and Entertainment practice; Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, Verizon’s director of consumer video services; and Gordon Castle, director in PwC’s Entertainment, Media and Communications advisory practice.