Websites, including new OK.com, seek to help families make media choices

Published: Friday, Sept. 14 2012 7:00 a.m. MDT

“We think the media landscape is shifting as we speak. We’re really focusing on home entertainment because we believe that in a family that’s where the most media is consumed, and with the increase in home entertainment there’s a major opportunity to be a unique resource. If we can (capture) that market now, and focus on the family, we’re putting ourselves in a really good position moving forward.”

Platforms galore

At its core, OK.com provides differentiated value to users by not only helping them select which movies they want to watch, but also how they’ll consume those movies. Via virtual tie-ins with content providers, OK.com can instantly generate real-time data for a movie such as which Redbox locations have the DVD in stock and whether that film can be streamed through Netflix. (And while it no longer qualifies as groundbreaking innovation, OK.com also provides show times and ticket prices for movies that are still playing in theaters.)

“As we’ve been going around the country telling people about OK.com, they really light up when we talk about all the different platforms we’re tied into,” Johnson said. “Right now it’s just Redbox, Netflix Instant and Netflix DVD, and then what’s in theaters. Soon we hope to have Amazon and iTunes added to it as well.”

Additionally, OK.com offers an alternative to the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system. User-generated recommendations combine to yield an age recommendation for every movie — recommendations which can be much more instructive than the MPAA’s generalized ratings.

For example, consider the cases of “Forever Strong,” the 2009 film about a high school rugby team, and the new Tom Cruise vehicle “Rock of Ages.” Both films garnered a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, yet OK.com users believe “Forever Strong” is safe for a 10-year-old while “Rock of Ages” should be limited to ages 17 and above.

‘A unique experience’

While OK.com employs computer algorithms to predict which movies users will like, there’s a major difference between the new website and the formulaic recommendations of, say, Netflix: OK.com places a premium on what movies your friends like.

“If you connect with Facebook (to OK.com), you can invite friends and build a network in which you share recommendations with each other,” Johnson explained. “And we then take all that data and tailor recommendations based on ratings, reviews, release times, recency of the movie and how many theaters that movie has played in. That means everyone can have a unique experience on OK.com. ...

“In many ways our algorithm is nowhere near as complex as Netflix, and we’re not going to be as accurate (as Netflix) if we relied on an algorithm alone. But with the friend component, we hope to be incredibly accurate.”

J.G. Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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