How TiVo does its collaborative filtering

February 18th, 2005

There is an interesting paper that describes how TiVo computes its recording recommendations.

The abstract:

We describe the TiVo television show collaborative recommendation system which has been fielded in over one million TiVo clients for four years. Over this install base, TiVo currently has approximately 100 million ratings by users over approximately 30,000 distinct TV shows and movies. TiVo uses an item-item (show to show) form of collaborative filtering which obviates the need to keep any persistent memory of each user�s viewing preferences at the TiVo server. Taking advantage of TiVo�s client-server architecture has produced a novel collaborative filtering system in which the server does a minimum of work and most work is delegated to the numerous clients. Nevertheless, the server-side processing is also highly scalable and parallelizable. Although we have not performed formal empirical evaluations of its accuracy, internal studies have shown its recommendations to be useful even for multiple user households. TiVo�s architecture also allows for throttling of the server so if more server-side resources become available, more correlations can be computed on the server allowing TiVo to make recommendations for niche audiences.

See PVRBLog