Jinni, a content discovery system for movies and TV shows, was recently named one of the first partners for Google TV. To find out more about the features that will come out of that partnership, we contacted the Israeli startup for details.
The objective of Google TV is to integrate access to online and TV content, but this greatly expands the viewing options available, making discovery important. Jinni on Google TV will be a browser-based app, customized to fit the TV experience, with interface adjustments such as easy navigation to fit a user’s remote control. While Jinni.com applies only to online content like Netflix and Amazon, Jinni for Google TV will add discovery tools for live TV and video-on-demand.
What makes Jinni different from other movie-search sites is that it 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.
I asked Jinni’s co-founder Yosi Glick how Jinni’s existing features will be adapted for Google TV. He suggested that in addition to the semantic search and discovery functions, personalized channels — each representing one aspect of the user’s entertainment personality — could be a compelling alternative to generic channels. A user could also get personalized search results for programs that are live now or about to be broadcast. Google’s blog suggested that the first Google TVs should available by Q3, 2010.
Jinni’s business model involves licensing the Jinni API as well as advertising based on user taste modeling. The company declined to comment on the commercial terms of the partnership with Google. Jinni has also recently established partnerships with various players in the TV world, including NDS, OpenTV and thePlatform.