Are digital and traditional pay TV providers ready to offer a service that can automatically provide viewers with programming based on their preferences and previous selections? ZoneTV is betting that they are: The start-up hopes to raise its profile and prospects today as it unveils a collaboration with Microsoft and Ooyala to introduce this fall what it calls a “first-of-its-kind, customizable suite of linear TV channels.”
The plan is to offer cable subscribers a $6.95 a month option to receive ZoneTV. It will aggregate internet videos from established content companies — including The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Glamour, Vogue, Wired, NASA, Scuba Diving, and DocComTV — for genres such as kid’s programming, fitness, cooking, casual games, sports, and lifestyle.
Videos would be queued for viewers much like a scheduled TV channel. The difference is that people can make on-demand choices that would automatically be followed by selections based on them — similar to the way Pandora and other music services pick songs to play for different listeners.
ZoneTV has distribution agreements with Comcast, AT&T’s DirecTV, CenturyLink, Telus, Bell Canada and Frontier Communications.
Ooyala’s technology will make sure that different content providers’ videos look good on a TV. Microsoft Cognitive Services helps with the metadata and artificial intelligence capabilities needed to make recommendations.
“We’re building the next generation of pay-TV services, so we need next-generation tools,” ZoneTV CEO Jeff Weber says. The collaboration with Ooyala and Microsoft will help to provide “an unmatched capability to enhance the TV ecosystem and translates into a one-of-a-kind viewer experience.”
The company will share data about viewing choices with content creators. It also expects to include brief ads, to be dynamically inserted so they reach audiences the buyer wants to reach.
ZoneTV says it has 6,000 hours of videos that can be selected and arranged on the fly.