NDS Adds Jinni for Video Recommendations

Finding what you want to watch on TV is going to be a big problem in the coming years as more video choices crowd into your living room. As a result, recommendations will play an increasingly important role in our video discovery. To that end, NDS, which makes middleware and applications for multi-service operator set-top boxes, announced today that it has launched its Recommendations Engine Partner Programme, and video recommendation service Jinni is the first company to join.

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. cable customers conducted by NDS, having TV recommendations was one of the top applications desired for their cable service.

Jinni’s recommendations are powered by the company’s Movie Genome and can provide suggestions based on previous viewing patterns, mood-based browsing, or a semantic search like “action with a surprise twist.”

As we’ve written before, with the coming wave of video choices, it’s less important to show viewers everything that’s on, and more important to show them the slice that they’ll be most interested in. It’s part of the reason Netflix (s NFLX) has been so gung-ho about improving recommendations, and why their (outsourced) work in that area is so important.

Netflix, of course, is making a big push in the over-the-top video space and concedes that its amped up streaming efforts could be seen as a threat to cable’s video business. OTT services like Netflix, and the widgets that will be developed for TV screens will enable viewers to easily search and get video recommendations without even turning on their cable box.

NDS argues that built-in widgets will be more powerful than those made by outside developers. “OTT widgets are more limited and don’t know what’s going on with your cable box,” Steve Tranter, vice president of broadband and interactive for NDS said, “They can’t recommend things to you that easily because it’s a separate experience.” Tranter says recommendation will be more powerful because the cable set-top box will know what you watch and be able to provide more context.

Of course, NDS’ customers are cable cos, so he’s a little biased. If people cut the cable cord altogether, they’ll be able to get context from other sources. The broader point is that with today’s announcement, NDS recognizes how important recommendations will be for TV watchers.