Monday, December 17, 2007

Orca Introduces Content Search

Orca Interactive has introduced a content recommendation engine called COMPASS as part of its IPTV middleware software system. COMPASS will be in beta test at a small number of IPTV service providers in 1H08 and will be released for general availability before the start of 2H08.

There are three components to COMPASS:
  • The user interface
  • The recommendation engine
  • The backend management console
Orca's goal is to make the user interface simple so that the recommendation service will be easy for viewers to use and, consequently, useful. The tool will cover broadcast content, video on demand content, content recorded on the local DVR or the network PVR service, and user generated and other kinds of long tail content.

The recommendation engine is the software that generates recommendations. Its recommendations will be based on popularity, recommendations, and user preferences as defined by past selections. The recommendation engine that Orca provides is based on research work funded in part by the Israeli government.

The backend management console permits the IPTV service provider to define how the selection process works. For example, the IPTV service provider can define:
  • The relative importance of each type of recommendation type in the results. For example, the weighting of popularity, ratings, and user preference can be adjusted to favor one over the other to optimize the results for the service providers specific subscriber population.
  • The IPTV service provider can include recommendations from premium packages that the viewer does not subscribe to to encourage up selling and increasing ARPUs.
Orca has found out that it is important to give individual viewers to filter out content that they do not want rather than to positively select content. For example, families without children, will filter out children's programming.

I think that Orca is onto an important feature here. Identifying content and having interesting content presented to you without having to search for it will be a key to IPTV and other long tail services. It will be interesting to see how well Orca's efforts pan out.

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