Hulu Buys The Video Genome Project To Sharpen Recommendations

Hulu just enhanced its ability to target programming to user preferences with the acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, of the Video Genome Project, which was backed by venture capital firm Segel Group Limited.

The companies describe VGP as “one of the largest, broadest and most granular structured databases of video content.” Hulu plans to feed the information into its recommendation engine to create what it describes as “a more powerful way to surface the right content to the right user at the right time, in both live and on-demand environments.”

The integration should be complete by the end of March.

VGP uses what it calls “genes” that it assigns to TV shows based on a wide range of elements from the metadata. It wants to offer a more useful and nuanced way to identify viewer interests than others might find by looking at, say, genre, cast, writer or director.

“The future of television is not just going to be about where and how you watch, it’s going to be about how personal your viewing experience can be,” Hulu’s Head of Experience Ben Smith says. The acquisition will “allow us to serve our users even better as we expand into live programming” with a streaming service planned for early 2017.

The company — owned by Comcast, Disney, Fox and Time Warner — says that its recommendation engine drives about 75% of all viewing on the platform.

VGP founder and CEO Xavier Kochhar says his company was designed to offer viewers “a hyper-personalized video experience that mirrors how the human brain naturally curates content.”

Hulu, he adds, “was the obvious choice for us to realize the VGP’s vision.”

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