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New Sling TV hire points to an upgraded, personalized user experience

Ben Weinberger is a step in the right direction.


Allen Weiner


Posted on Jun 7, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 3:54 pm CDT

Sling TV Looks to a Personalized Future

Hirings and firings in the media business rarely make the front page, but in the case of Sling TV’s addition of Ben Weinberger, there’s reason to take note, pay attention or save the news to your favorite clipping service.

Weinberger, who comes to Dish’s live/on-demand service from TiVo, is one of the founders of Digitalsmiths, a company that emerged victorious from the disruptive video search space. In the competitive world of video search, many who failed focused solely on the technology piece of the puzzle, while Digitalsmiths also took the application of its search capabilities into strong consideration. For example, I recall having a briefing with the company when it showcased a b2b service it was developing for a film studio who wanted to sell clips from its films for commercial usage (in ads, for example). The ability to get down to the meta level — perhaps the scene where Vito Corleone plays in his tomato patch — was a powerful implementation of Digitalsmith’s capabilities.

In 2014, TiVo purchased Digitalsmiths with Weinberger becoming VP of services for the San Jose-based hardware and service provider. The addition of Digitalsmiths searching capabilities resulted in a 2014 Emmy Award for “Personalized Recommendation Engines for Video Discovery for Multichannel Video Programming Distributors.” Not too shabby.

Weinberger is anointed Sling’s chief product officer, which tells us the new TV provider is on a track to not only add new content to its lineup, but also to continue to improve customer experience to separate it from current and future competitors.

Which brings to mind a few questions. What sort of underlying platform will Sling use to handle the complexities of program customization. To put the process in its simplest terms, in order to personalize content, a process must be put in place to ingest/observe/gather the “tags” (descriptors) associated with each program. That info is put into a database and then married with individual user behavior. The merger of those two sets of information can yield a variety of personalized results. With Digitalsmiths belonging to TiVo, Sling will have to buy, build, or partner with a different tech provider.

Read the full article at the Video Ink.

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*First Published: Jun 7, 2015, 8:00 am CDT