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There are many sites recommending all sorts of things these days: music;  movies; places to visit, eat and stay;  fashion… and, of course, there is Amazon that recommends anything.

How about TV shows, though?  Frequently I find myself helpless in front of the TV with too much choice and yet nothing worth seeing only to find out the next day that I missed something great or, worse, that there is some amazing show on Season X that I’ve overlooked for years.

So far, I’ve found three recommendation services aimed at me (B2C), the bloke on the sofa, and a fourth serving multi-channel cable/satellite players (B2B).

SocialGuide
B2C. A real-time social guide for TV and social TV platform that makes every show across every network instantly social.
US-based.
Founded 2010
Beta release in the Spring of 2011
SocialGuide Raises $1.5 Million For Social TV Guide
SocialGuide debuts daily social TV rankings

Matcha
B2C. Bringing the social graph to movie and TV recommendations and aggregating the millions of movies, TV shows, and clips floating around the Web for an enhanced search and discovery experience.
US-based.
Founded Sept 2010
Beta release June 2011
Matcha: A Social TV Guide And Movie Recommendation Engine That Doesn’t Suck
– Matcha’s social TV guide connects with Netflix, Hulu

beeTV
Originally B2B; branched into B2C. A social TV service that is a real-time, cross-platform hub for all consumers’ activity around TV.
Israeli with offices in Italy and the US.
Founded Aug 2007
– beeTV gets in your head, tells you what to watch
– beeTV Raises $8 Million For Stunning Personal TV Recommendation System
– beeTV integrates social TV into new apps

TVGenius
B2B. A software company that has specialised in TV content discovery through recommendations, search, and interactive TV guides.
UK-based
Founded in 2005
TVGenius TV trends blog

What other ones have I missed?

UPDATE

There are two services that I’d classify as “intelligent remotes” (as explained to me by Michel Cassius).  However, I feel that once we being accepting these services, others like Tivo need also be considered.

BuddyTV
Started as an an online TV guide and discussion center but, with it’s upcoming smartphone app that includes recommendation, it becomes an interesting player in this space.
US-based
Founded 2007
–  BuddyTV turns your iPhone into a smarter viewing guide and remote

Peel
It’s one part application, one part hardware.  It will keep track of your favorite shows and, after a few days, start recommending other shows that you might like.
US-based
Founded 2009
–  Peel Universal Control

Clue Score = How well an industry has embraced the potential of the Internet.
– Press (newspapers and magazines) A+
– Movie (Hollywood) B
– TV (broadcaster) B-
– Radio C
– Music F

I have been helping media companies think through and execute their media strategies since 1998.

This month I began work on a detailed 8-year forecast of the global market for recorded music. The hardest factor to predict (and I am still struggling with it) is the contribution of digital sales. All the research firms’, consultancies; and music companies’ estimates I have seen say ‘yes’ – they have global music sales recovering as early as 2007 with sales anywhere between 2010 and 2012 exceeding 2006 values.

I began my analyses with this same hypothesis. Alas I am coming to the conclusion it won’t happen. The reason is that the music industry have resisted embracing potential of the Internet.

Music has been visibly online since 1998 when eMusic launched. We are at the end of 2007 and all the music industry has managed to do little. They focussed on minimising the down-side of the Internet (ie, illegal file sharing) instead of maximising the upside (eg, greater ease of sampling and buying, selling back catalogue). Today they are wrestling with iTunes, DRM and, because of market failures, illegal file sharing.  It’s not evident how they can remedy things in the short term.

It made me think that, compared with all the media industries I’d worked with, the music industry has done the least necessary to profit from the Internet.

The press has tried hard. They were quick to put their content online. It took them a while to learn to publish for the web, but most figured out. Of course some titles gave too much away (eg, TIME to AOL) but that’s down to execution. My point is that just about every publisher quickly develop some sort of “web strategy”. They weren’t in denial. Some publishers even bought dotcoms in classified and local directories. Many have embraced blogs. And, recently, some titles are beginning to develop social networks. I give them an ‘A+’.

The movie industry realized early on that they’d be in the same hot water the music business was in unless they did something about it. Viant (my favourite work place) was working with movie studios as far back as 1999 to develop Internet business models. Today there are a variety of ways that you can buy movies — not all ideal but proof that they are experimenting. And, they sure know how to use the web to market their fare. That’s a ‘B+’ in my view (I’d give them a A- if they weren’t still enamoured to DRM).

TV has been a bit of a sleeper but has moved fast this year. Broadcasters used the web to put out loads of program information and, generally, did that well. They even offered show-related chat rooms and forums. And, this year, all the US broadcasters developed broadband portals built around their real asset: video. That earns them a ‘B-’.

Radio has been ignoring the Internet. Stations have little to show other than streaming shows and creating email addresses for their DJs. Most stations, until recently, have been dissing podcasting. I give them a ‘C’ because they were quick to offer streaming but have done nothing of note since.

CBS Corporation’s President and CEO, Leslie Moonves, highlighted his company’s commitment to develop digital revenues during the Q3 earnings call.

“I want to talk about our efforts in the digital space. New media is a huge opportunity that cuts across all of our businesses and affects everything we do as a premier content company. You guys are always asking us when we’re going to start making money here. While it is still too soon to quantify the impact, I can tell you we expect to generate hundreds of millions in digital revenues in ’07. We made a number of very significant moves over the quarter to extend the reach of our television programming online.

In October we partnered with YouTube to begin offering short form video streams that include content from the CBS Television Network, Showtime, and CSTV. Meanwhile as I mentioned earlier, we continue to find new platforms to stream our hit content. We’re already offering many of our shows on Google Video, Apple iTunes, Amazon.com, and AOL. Plus we began offering free next-day streaming of 12 primetime series on Innertube, our own entertainment website. We have streamed more than 2 million episodes of our show so far this season and over 3 million related videos. These numbers continue to grow week over week.

[…]Meanwhile, DVR and Internet streaming are only adding viewers. New technologies and platforms make it easy for people to enjoy both programs that air during these highly competitive time periods. We are already getting paid for this incremental viewing on the Internet, and we expect to get paid for DVR viewing next year. “

tags: TV CBS

Why don’t broadcasters simply tell when the third series of Lost will start again in the UK?

Tonight, at the fifth Beers & Innovator get together, I met with Paul Pod, one of the founders of TIOTI (Tape It Off The Internet). The idea behind TIOTI is to help people find the programs they want to watch.

Boy, do I need that! I just can’t understand why broadcasters don’t let viewers subscribe to an email service to alert hem when they favourite programs will air. Yep, just an email newsletter. Of course, if you want something more complex I could propose SMS alerts, synchronization with my calendar software fan groups, recommendation engines, RSS feeds, etc.. But just a good old simple email newsletter would do.

Annoyingly, I have been forced to become a Radio Times reader to avoid missing the new season of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm and 24. I am very frustrated for having missed the opening episode of Extras and Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

I embraced TIOTI’s proposition as soon as Paul began explaining it to me because it solves my need to find the ongoing episodes of the series I’m hooked on.

TIOTI is far more complicated than my email newsletter idea (it has BitTorrent feeds and more) so broadcasters still have time to react. And, react they must because they run the risk of losing my eyeballs to content that I download into my PC and pump into my plasma screen begging the question ‘can they afford to bleed audience like that?’

tags: TV television user centric

Today ITV announced that they are building a broadband portal to replace ITV.com. As far as I know, they are the only European broadcaster doing so. Why?

ITV are following on the lead of American broadcasters all of whom, for the start of the Fall TV season, have launched broadband portals offering viewers rich video experiences. ABC was the first to launch with a pilot in March and for the Fall has succeeded in selling over $2.5m per quarter worth of ads on for its broadband portal this season. NBC, Fox and CBS have their own services.

It is a necessary move for broadcasters. Their “sofa audience”, the people that watch traditional TV, is dwindling. To make matters worse, it is the most sought after segments – the teens, young adults and affluent middle-aged – that are swapping the sofa for the computer.

So, to regain these valuable eyeballs broadcasters need to develop compelling broadband sites. Key features include full screen viewing, simulcast (watch it on the PC if a family member has hijacked the TV); catch-up (if you missed this week’s episode on TV you can still catch it online); show extras (eg, scenes cut-out, interviews with key cast members) and archive both for shows and advertisements. It is not a trivial exercise. The video should be surrounded by related content (eg, other video, articles); invitation for the viewer to participate (eg, join a forum) and recommendations (eg, “you should also watch this”). More advanced broadcasters might want to offer personalization options such as letting users create (and share) their own playlist.

Building such portals requires 3 to 9 months of planning and development depending on the broadcasters technical infrastructure (I know, I am working on one such project at this time)..

There is a business case though, admittedly, it still has to be proven. Broadcasters can generate incremental revenues.

1. Selling advertisement during the playback of simulcast, catch-up, extras and archived content.

2. Selling more intricate advertisement packages (eg, take-overs) and sponsor dedicated sub-sites.

3. Extending their show’s franchises (and advertisement opportunities) by offering spin-off webisodes. NBC, for example has created The Accountants as a spin-off of the highly successful US version of The Office.

4. Inviting users to participate, to contribute their own content and, in the process, generating more traffic to the portal.

There is also the potential to sell subscriptions for specific services (eg, archives). However, the general wisdom at this time is that it’s better to maximize the number of viewers with advertisement-paid content than to impose a subscription fee and risk low take-up.

When I did a quick check of the online offering of the major broadcasters in France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK all I found were traditional, text rich websites that inelegantly played video extracts on a pop-up window.

I don’t know why European broadcasters haven’t begun to develop their broadband offerings. After all, the downward TV viewing trends are common across Europe and broadband subscriptions are becoming widespread and the business case is there (to be tested).

Prediction: In the next 18 months three to four leading European broadcasters will launch broadband portals.

tags: TV broadband television