Recommendations on what to watch are a key element of the future of TV; developing detailed pictures of what users like to watch now, and helping content providers predict what viewers will want to watch in the future. Slovakia-based SynopsiTV is one company trying to make content recommendations better for viewing audiences, through an online tool that it hopes will become a go-to recommendation resource for the future of connected television.
SynopsiTV, unlike GetGlue, doesn’t worry about social connections; rather it focuses on determining a user’s tastes based on a user’s input, which actually might be a better approach, since people who are friends don’t necessarily share the same taste in movies or music. SynopsiTV CEO Rastislav Turek told BetaKit in an interview that the approach is narrow by design to begin with, but that the company is “dreaming much bigger,” too.
Discovery is a crowded field. The Discovr series of mobile apps is trying to tackle it with a visual, interactive model, starting off with music but recently adding people discovery to its suite of apps; Hunch, which was acquired by eBay, also counts movies as one of its core strengths, and builds its recommendations based on a “Taste Graph” it builds from user-curated content and information; and of course Netflix has long counted a smart recommendation tool as one of its core features. SynopsiTV’s approach is closer to Hunch’s, since it draws on input from the user to make its recommendations. But SynopsiTV is hoping its integrated approach will eventually help it sell its product to platform operators who ultimately want to sell as much media as possible to their users.
“We want to become the ultimate platform for the entertainment industry. That means integrating every source where users watch any movise, TV show or videos,” Turek said. “We are starting with movies and TV shows because it’s much easier to identify them, but later we are going to add more sources, like YouTube, Vimeo and others. We have already indexed tens of millions videos on YouTube and are working through making sense of them.”
SynopsiTV is definitely aiming for the stars, with Turek claiming he hopes to be for movies, TV shows, music and other media what “Google is for the internet.” But the company is going about it the right way, with a user-centric model that not only works, but also looks good. Product is ultimately only a selling tool though, as Turek says his company is chasing bigger game with its API.
“Instead of focusing on mobile apps we are now working on integrations with set-top boxes,” he said when asked about native mobile apps (currently, the site is compatible with most modern smartphone browsers). “GoogleTV, Popcorn hour, Boxee, XBMC, even all players on Windows, Linux and Mac (something similar to Last.fm scrobbling). We are trying to get off rid of the manual actions required for the system right now (check-in to the movie when you are watching, rate it, etc.) to simplify user experience from the service.”
The angel-funded SynopsiTV, which is just about to open to the public, has a few barriers in its way; as Turek mentioned, in its current incarnation it requires a lot of input from users to generate its recommendations, for one, and others like Hunch are already attempting similar things. But if Turek and company can build a product that’s easy for set-top box makers and cable and satellite providers to integrate into their own solutions, and one that covers a range of input sources as well as Apple and Netflix manage their own closed content markets, it could have a blockbuster on its hands.