Rovi is looking to expand its ability to help clients create more personalized recommendation systems, and to do so it quietly acquired media recommendation firm MediaUnbound for an undisclosed amount. The purchase, which closed Friday, March 12, could bolster Rovi’s data business by providing recommendation information as a value-add, while also delivering better recommendations to end users that access content through its own electronic programming guide.
MediaUnbound has helped to build static and dynamic personalization and recommendation engines for a number of clients, including Napster, eMusic and MTV Networks. The company has focused primarily on the music industry, but Corey Ferengul, Rovi’s executive vice president of product management and marketing, said in a phone interview that the same software can be used to provide recommendations for other media types that Rovi has in its database, including movies, TV, games — even books. In fact, he says that many of MediaUnbound’s customers use its recommendation system along with Rovi’s data products.
The first step for Rovi will be packaging MediaUnbound’s recommendation technology to customers that buy its media data. But the company could also integrate the technology into its TotalGuide digital programming guide, which could enable it to extend more personalized movie and TV show recommendations to end users.
Rovi evaluated a few different recommendation services before acquiring MediaUnbound, and according to Ferengul, it was just as interested in acquiring the company’s talent as its technology. “Recommendation is a hot space right now, but there isn’t a single answer — there will be continual answers that need to be developed over time, and we needed a good team to keep us looking forward,” he said.
Cambridge, Mass-based MediaUnbound was founded by three Harvard University students in 2000. Privately held, the company has been profitable since 2003.
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