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By Peter Docherty, Founder & CTO, ThinkAnalytics
1. Recommendations for live, linear EPGs will come of age
With so much media focus on VOD and catch-up TV, it’s easy to forget that the majority of content viewed by consumers is still courtesy of the linear EPG. Despite the flurry of announcements relating to recommendations engines for relatively static VOD libraries or OTT content during 2012, the reality is that supporting ‘on the fly’ real-time recommendations for dynamic, linear TV and then personalising it to the individual, is a considerably bigger challenge – but one with a much larger commercial upside. 2013 will see more pay-TV providers choosing to deploy a recommendations engine powerful and flexible enough to support linear EPGs which feature 500+ channels. That comes to a whopping 200,000+ programmes over a two-week period.
2. Social media recommendations will gain ‘Generation C’ traction
Recommendations support for social media will be adopted by those, typically younger, Generation C (‘connected’) consumers who are happy to have their user profiles and viewing patterns exposed to the world and their viewing profiles enhanced based on their behaviour on social media sites. For these consumers, watching what their friends and contacts on Facebook and Twitter are watching may take precedence over discovering their own personal tastes and preferences.
3. Integrated recommendations will reduce the need for search
Although the words ‘search and recommendations’ are usually inexorably linked, search is a minor part of the picture with just four per cent of viewers knowing what they want to watch and searching for it. During 2013, recommendations will move from the EPG sidebar to take centre stage as part of the standard UI. The 96 per cent of viewers who prefer a ‘lean-back’ user experience will benefit from a recommendations-based UI as the ‘lean-forward’ EPG search takes a backseat.
4. One size doesn’t fit all
It might be assumed that all recommendations engines help Pay-TV providers to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but in reality some don’t. During 2013, cloud-based ‘black box’ solutions that churn out the same recommendations to every pay-TV provider in a specific region or country will lose their lustre. One size certainly doesn’t fit all in the personalised recommendations sector.
5. Multiscreen recommendation models will flourish
The need to support automated intelligent navigation and personalised recommendations on multiple devices and platforms will come to the fore in 2013. Service providers are expected to create great user experiences on smartphones, tablets, PCs, Connected TVs and games consoles, as well as via the set-top box. A comprehensive range of algorithms – covering areas such as metadata and behaviour – and designed to interact in many different combinations to enable multiple recommendations techniques across different devices/platforms is vital. To demonstrate the requirement for a broad array of automated, interacting algorithmic techniques, consider the case of a pay-TV provider with 10 million subscribers and 80,000 programmes on offer; the number of possible combinations here would be 800 billion!