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Virgin Media O2 wants to pick your telly for you

vmo2 what should I watch

Converged UK telco Virgin Media O2 has launched a TV and film recommendation engine called ‘What should I Watch?‘

In an age that could be described as intermittently locked down, we’ve all spent plenty of time on the sofa wondering what televisual fresh meat will best while away the evening.

Indeed, data ‘uncovered’ by VMO2 apparently points to a 60 percent rise in Google searches for ‘what to watch’ since the start of lockdown.

News of this apparently prompted them to team up with Official Charts Company to launch the ‘What Should I Watch?’ service.

The engine takes into account various preferences, and the algorithm taps into a database of 711,084 movies and 122,159 TV shows, offering 189,168 TV seasons and 2,919,074 TV episodes.

It also provides a top 10 list of movies, based on the Official Film Chart. This is based on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD and Digital Download sales.

“Our new ‘What Should I Watch?’ platform has been designed to help save on time spent surfing TV channels by bringing the nation’s most popular films and TV shows together in one place, helping TV fans find the right genre, for the right mood, in minutes,” said Simon Groves, Director of Brand and Marketing at VMO2.

“We’re always looking at ways to offer our customers the latest tools and technology so they can enjoy the best in entertainment. Partnering with the Official Charts Company provides real time insight into the most popular films of the moment, ensuring we’re bringing customers the latest trends. Combining this with existing customer preferences means we can offer bespoke recommendations to make deciding what to watch that little bit easier.”

How to tackle a charts system in the age of streaming is a tricky one. In the music business, they weight one CD sale or album download against something like 1500 streams (though this figure changes) to try and engineer some parity. Most tunes are being consumed via streams, meaning the once all important measurement metric of a number 1 selling album starts to lose some of its relevance.

In the TV space, Netflix measures a ‘watch’ as anyone who’s watched more than 2 minutes and is selective about what it releases. So while the results of a service like this from VMO2 is going to be skewed in favour of actual downloads and the activities of however many people are still buying physical CDs, there’s no obvious way to incorporate streaming platform views and sales in order to provide a holistic measure of what everyone is currently watching.


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