Yahoo! Movies Adds Recommendation Engine

Netflix has long advocated that one of their key differentiators is their proprietary Cinematch movie recommendation engine, fueld by dozens of ratings (or in my case, 725+ ratings) by millions of subscribers.

Today, Yahoo! released a movie recommendation service on their Yahoo! Movies property. (via SoCalTech)

The engine walks you through a seeding process, where you confirm your age (from your existing Yahoo! profile), specify your general interest in Hollywood/Mainstream vs. Independent flicks, then rate a half dozen titles across a variety of genres. You’re then given a sample set of personalized recommendations for movies currently in theatres, movies on TV (with the option of removing channels, like HBO, that you might not have), new releases on DVD, and from “Movie Fans like you”.

Notably missing is integration with Yahoo! 360 (emulating Netflix Friends), Yahoo! TV (where showing me tonight/this week’s TV movie recommendation would be most valuable…), and of course, RSS support. (It’d also be nice to be able to rate a movie at the main Yahoo! Movies page without having to write a review.)

So that’s heavy on product and light on strat… Looking longer term, we now have Yahoo with both music and movie recommendation engines, digital music distribution, strong ties to the studios (including in-show placement, ala Apprentice and Contender) and an ever growing pyschographic (“behavioral”) profile of its users… A Netflix tie-up to power Yahoo DVD Rentals would be a much more compelling deterrent to Amazon than the recent deal with Wal-mart… OTOH, can NFLX afford to help anyone with the presence of a Yahoo! make the transition from physical movie distribution to VOD/VOI? Tough spot to be in.

On another front… Now, who’s going to write a little routine to scrape my NFLX ratings, persist them client-side in an XML file, and feed them into Yahoo’s engine? If you know of such a beast (that works from a logged-in state, i.e., doesn’t require handing over my NFLX or Yahoo userid/password), please drop a note!

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