A TV Guide for the Netflix Era

There's an article in the WSJ today: The Internet Gave Us Great TV—Now Where’s Our Great TV Guide? (paywall). 

In an effort to keep you watching (and paying), original programming budgets are skyrocketing. Netflix is ramping spend again, reportedly from $8 billion to $12 to $13 billion. Amazon is following suit. Even Apple is spending a billion. 

Times are great if you're anywhere close to the TV business. And they're great for consumers, too. 

I get most of my TV recommendations from social media or Reddit. But sometimes I'm at a loss of what to watch - and it's not improved by choice. I hate when I end up watching stuff I don't like, or when I find myself rewatching things. 

Netflix' 98%+ recommendations are more like 50/50 for me. 

We've seen a bunch of TV guide apps that try to help you decide what to watch over the years. For example, Berlin-based JustWatch or SF-based Reelgood. We've struggled with whether these types of plays become great businesses, but they're certainly answering a consumer need. 

The key issue is that they don't make a great jumping off point. I tend not to remember their existence when the decision point comes. And their recommendations are too RT/IMDB-based, rather than personalized to me. 

It's a hard problem given that the data is in the silos of Netflix/Amazon and your set-top box (if you haven't cut the cord). But it's a worthwhile problem to solve. Reelgood is the one that seems to really try to close the loop. 

My first angel investment was Last.fm, which applied collaborative filtering to music listening behavior. I haven't found a similarly well-implemented service in TV streaming yet. I'm sure it's already out there. 

1 response
Thanks for a good article Max. Fully agree with you. I feel like Netflix's commercial interests (i.e. pushing their own series to viewers) is more important than providing great recs. I have been trying an app called 'itcher' which is working pretty well despite the weird name :)