Belgacom, which has 870,000 digital TV customers in Belgium, will invest $2 million EU in video recommendation service Jinni as part of a strategic partnership.
We previously covered Jinni when the company was named as one of Google’s partners for Google TV. Jinni claims to already have two tier-one cable operators in the U.S. as customers (the company cannot yet name them) but Belgacom is the company’s first European customer. Belgacom wants to make its TV services available on PC, set-top box and mobile and Jinni is part of its attempt to provide a more personalised experience to its subscribers.
Jinni’s web site, which gets around 1 million unique visitors a month, provides recommendations for online content and lets you search for movies and TV shows based on mood terms like “witty urban comedy” or plot elements like “unlikely couple” or “ambition” rather than simply genre or title. Jinni presents search results and recommendations visually and provides links to sites like Amazon, Netflix and iTunes (or, for European users, LOVEFilm), where you can buy or rent the content. The catalog currently contains around 30,000 titles.
At the heart of Jinni is a movie genome similar to Pandora’s music genome that categorizes video content using 2,200 different parameters or “genes” covering mood, style, setting, atmosphere, etc. The site uses a combination of natural language processing and sentiment analysis to derive the genes from reviews and other information available online about a particular movie. The recommendation system learns your “movie personality” based on ratings you give to search results and expects to give high-quality recommendations after 10-20 ratings.
Belgacom also announced an investment of $4 million in in3Depth Systems, the holding company controlling Softkinetic, which produces gesture-controlled interfaces. This implies that Belgacom is planning to deploy a gesture-controlled set-top box as well as Jinni’s recommendations, which combined with the 3-screen capabilities (PC, TV and mobile) could make for a very innovative hybrid TV service.
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