Hulu acquires Video Genome Project to sharpen recommendations

Image: Hulu

Hulu today bought the Video Genome Project, a big granular database it intends to integrate in order to better personalize its user experience and recommendations engine.

Hulu didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, but it did say it expects to fully integrate the VGP database into its recommendation system by the first quarter of 2017.

The VGP, founded in 2013, aggregates information about video content and digs into data beyond genre and cast to deliver recommendations based on its proprietary metadata “lenses.”

“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,” said Ben Smith, head of experience at Hulu, in a statement. “With this strategic acquisition of The VGP’s technology, we’re gaining important data and personalization capabilities that will allow us to serve our users even better as we expand into live programming.”

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Hulu is expected to launch its live TV service next year. The SVOD hasn’t revealed pricing or channel lineup yet, but it has stayed busy signing licensing deals, most recently bringing onboard ABC/Disney and 21st Century Fox.

Hulu’s live TV service will likely bow after AT&T launches its DirecTV Now service, and once it comes to market it will have to compete with established vMVPDs like Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.

Of course, Hulu is already competing against SVOD giants like Netflix, which has also put in some work to better personalize its recommendations. Hulu’s purchase of the VGP should help it stack up better against competing services’ recommendations.

“We built The VGP because we always believed that every household deserves the most robust discovery tools, ones that deliver a hyper-personalized video experience that mirrors how the human brain naturally curates content,” said Xavier Kochhar, founder and CEO of The Video Genome Project, in a statement. “Given its forward-thinking leadership and true emphasis on content discovery, which we saw in the personal user experience they are building, Hulu really was the obvious choice for us to realize The VGP’s vision.”