Where to Find Good Web Video: Divvio

It’s hard to watch internet TV for any long stretch of time, and no, that’s not because it all sucks. Finding content that matches your tastes requires searches, clicks, and lots of refinement — not exactly a “lean back” experience.

Divvio, a new project from former CTO and CIO of AT&T Hossein Eslambolchi, is working to fix that issue by developing a dynamic channel creator with some very interesting technical advances. Key is the company’s patent-pending Adaptive Learning Intelligent Platform (ALIP), which refines content recommendations based on a user’s actions and preferences.

Divvio, which is releasing a preview version for Internet Explorer tomorrow, will run through a web browser rather than a downloaded media player. We haven’t been able to give it a spin yet, but we chatted with Eslambolchi this morning to get the details.

After logging in to the site, Divvio users will be able to refine public channels or create their own from scratch, including both video and audio items. The company’s engine builds an ontology of related words, relating, for instance, L.A. Lakers with Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, and searching under all those terms, said Eslambolchi.

Divvio also factors in popularity, community relevancy, and date and time. Users can build new rules and interest groups in natural language, telling the program “I don’t like Madonna” (his example, not mine!) to create a filter.

The product will first available in IE, then on Firefox in the Mac, in coming months on mobile phones, and over time on IPTV, said Eslambochi. The company has developed a way of showing video that conforms to a user’s platform and preferred media player. This is cool technology — Eslambolchi calls it “peer to source, like a URL softswitch” — that does not cache or transcode the content. That means viewers get to watch it where they want and copyright holders get to register a normal viewing.

The set of technologies here is impressive, and could be a boon to other projects we’ve looked at — TVTonic, for instance, would greatly benefit from dynamic channel creation on its slick Windows Media Center installation, and StumbleVideo, which already harnesses its community for recommendations, could perhaps more easily add new sources and platforms.

Divvio is working on signing content partners and already has 800,000 links to multimedia content gathered through crawling the web. The company has raised a few million dollars from seed funders including Allegis Capital, Eric Benhamou, Presidio STX, Farzad Naimi, Geoff Ralston, and Sachio Semmoto. It is currently raising a Series A round.

See additional coverage in Red Herring and BusinessWeek.