Comcast Tests Personalized TV Recommendations

-- 'My TV' Section on Program Guide Will Feature Subscribers' Favorite Actors and Shows

New York – Comcast is testing several different ways to deliver personalized TV recommendations to its customers, including suggesting shows based on a subscriber's viewing habits and content recommended by Facebook friends. "There are quite a few personalization initiatives that are live now in Augusta, Georgia, and rolling out to a lot of places in the near future," Comcast Search & Discovery senior director of product management Brian Curtis told attendees here at the TVOT NYC Intensive Monday. 

One of the first personalized TV features Comcast will add to its user interface will allow subscribers to set their favorite actors, TV shows and channels. Comcast will recommend TV shows and movies to subscribers through a "My TV" section on its program guide. "Those favorites feed into your personalized profile," Curtis said. 

Comcast and other cable and satellite providers are able to track every click of a remote control from digital set-tops. Without knowing which member of a family that subscribes to Comcast is using the remote control, Curtis says Comcast may be able suggest content to subscribers based on usage patterns from set-tops. For example, it would be able to determine that a child is controlling the set-top, if it is between the hours and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., and the subscriber is viewing "nothing but Cartoon Network and [Nickelodeon's] Dora The Explorer."

But Curtis said Comcast is only looking to recommend content to households, or set-tops, explaining that privacy laws would compel the MSO to allow subscribers to opt in or opt out of receiving recommendations for individuals within a household. 

Comcast is testing personalized TV recommendations as part of its Project Xcalibur trials in Augusta, which are focused on developing a next generation TV platform that integrates live TV and cloud-based applications. The MSO is working with Tunerfish, a social TV firm owned by its Comcast Interactive Media subsidiary, on the personalized TV tests, Curtis said. 

Tunerfish has developed apps Apple's iPhone and mobile phones running Google's Android platform that let viewers recommend TV shows and movies to friends by using their phones to "check in" to various programs. Tunerfish has also developed a Facebook app for Project Xcalibur which lets Comcast subscribers and their friends share social TV recommendations through Facebook's "like" feature, Tunerfish general manager Jon McCrea told TVOT attendees. 

While Curtis didn't say when Comcast would deploy personalized TV recommendations, Comcast executives have said that the company will widely deploy a new user interface for its next generation Xfinity TV service in 2012. 

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