Hulu buys Video Genome Project for better recommendations

Steven Loeb · November 15, 2016 · Short URL:

The company will incorporate the company's data into its recommendation system early next year

There are two things that can make or break an Internet video streaming site: having the best content and offering the best recommendations.

Most services take care of the first one through their original content, including Hulu, which is getting ready to separate itself from competitors like Netflix and Amazon even further with its upcoming live TV service. Before it does that, though, it needs to get the second part down as well, especially it says that 75 percent of all of viewing on the platform is done through recommendations.

That's why the company announced on Tuesday that it has acquired The Video Genome Project, or VGP, a structured database of video content. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

This is how VGP describes itself:  "VGP discovers, ingests, refines and understands the component data and metadata elements of film, television, and online video records. The Video Genome Project's technology then assigns hundreds of contextual attributes to these video records on a granular level, to develop a clear and comprehensive picture of each piece of video content, from the inside out."

Basically, the company classifies and file video beyond just its genre or who is in it, but into much more specific categories. A movie isn't just in the science fiction category, for example, but can be grouped into movies about aliens or zombies, and then crossed with other genres. So if you're looking for a zombie love story, you'll be able to find it. 

"We create proprietary metadata 'lenses' to help better analyze the relationships between titles and content. Whether it is a car-guy movie or a lazy Sunday afternoon TV show, we have turned the facts about content into unique and usable information to be put into the hands of users," the company says.

Hulu began speaking with The Video Genome Project for the past six to eight months about partnering with them to leverage their technology. Ultimately, as it learned more about The VGP's unique and deep understanding of content relationships, and VGP learned more about the personalized experience Hulu is trying to build for users, it became evident that it would make sense to join forces. 

Hulu plans to combine The VGP’s proprietary technology with its own recommendation engine. The company expects to fully incorporate VGP's data into its recommendation system by the first quarter of 2017. A small group of VGP employees will be joining Hulu.

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,” Ben Smith, Head of Experience at Hulu, said 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.”

Breaking content down into more granular categories is something that Netflix already does. Earlier this year, the Internet got a hold of some of the company's "secret categories," which include "Wine and Beverage Appreciation," "Steamy British Independent Dramas," "Gritty Tearjerkers," and "Cerebral Scandinavian Movies." Now, with VGP's technology, Hulu will be able to do the same thing. 

Founded in 2013, The Video Genome Project had raised funding from Segel Group Limited. 

VatorNews reached out to Hulu for more information about the acquisition. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes