CES: New Samsung TVs to start with smart recommendation screen

By Cory Bergman 

In a first for a major TV manufacturer, Samsung announced at CES today that its new 2013 TVs will display a new “Smart Hub” experience the moment you turn them on. The “On TV” section of the guide will show the last channel you watched squeezed into a corner, and personalized recommendations will take up the rest of the screen.

A year ago, we predicted that TVs will soon “start up smart with social guides,” instead of the last channel you were watching. Samsung’s “S-Recommendation” technology doesn’t appear to take social into account just yet — it’s powered off viewing behavior and ratings. However, these recommendations span live TV, video on demand, apps and “social content,” Samsung said.

“As the plethora of apps and content grow, consumers are faced with the overwhelming challenge of discovering quality content that appear to their interests,” said Kim Hyun-Suk, EVP of Samsung. “We have simplified the process.”

In addition to the start screen (above), the new “Smart Hub” features four other panels, including one dedicated to social video. It highlights “user-created content from friends and family, popular videos from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and video call services,” Samsung explained.

The new TVs also include more accurate facial recognition, better gesture controls and AllShare technology to share content between devices in the home. “Your TV is almost human,” described Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.

The start screen will be a fascinating battleground to watch. When done well, it will be the most valuable real estate in TV — a springboard to TV viewing. Recommendations can not only be algorithmic, but paid. And those paid recommendations would be trackable to see how many people clicked through to watch a given show — a potential motherlode of new revenue for those who can drive scale against it. Google is already hard at work on cracking this code, and now we’re starting to see Samsung jump in with both feet, as well.