Rovi Tech Personalizes Cable Guide with Recommendations

California-based Rovi is developing technology that will turn cable TV guides from endless grids to a more-personalized recommendation service. Its version of the TV guide tracks viewer habits to make recommendations based on what the viewer has watched before, at what time, and even in what room. It searches through the live line-up, on-demand content, and Netflix to make recommendations. Users can also search for movies and shows using voice commands.

Rovi’s technology is trying to make it easier for TV viewers to find the shows or movies they want to watch on the hundreds of channels now available. If a person only watches family–friendly shows on the TV in the living room or a person watches the news every morning, Rovi can make recommendations that fit the viewer’s habits.

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“We spent a lot of time thinking about the context. That’s about when you’re watching, what’s happening in the world, where you’re sitting in the world, and what is in your profile,” said Darren Gill, Rovi’s vice president of product, in Wired.

Rovi has also made searching for video content easier in another way: voice commands. Voice searches aren’t new, but Rovi’s take is more nuanced than most. For example, people can inquire about a movie with the actor who played Tony Soprano, even if they do not remember the actor’s name. They could also ask about a sports team’s next game, and Rovi will find out which event is most relevant, even if the exact sport was never mentioned.

To make this technology work, Rovi utilizes a knowledge graph with more than 100 million pieces of information on shows, movies, characters, actors, athletes, sports teams, and more.

Rovi has not yet been fully adopted by any major cable company, but the company is still developing ways to monetize the guide with advertising. Also, other media companies could benefit from the exposure that viewers could get to channels and shows that viewers have never seen before.