Dish and its corporate sibling EchoStar have quietly been testing a movie recommendations platform called Flixpert, Variety has learned. Flixpert promises to help people find movies to watch through recommendations from friends and trusted contacts; Dish has been testing mobile apps for the service with a few hundred users.
Online footprints suggest that Flixpert has been in development for at least two years, but a flurry of new activity suggests that Dish may be getting ready to launch the service in the near future. A Dish spokesperson declined to comment.
Dish quietly released the current test version of the Flixpert app for iPhones earlier this year, and followed up with an Android app this fall. The company also launched an Alexa skill for Flixpert some time last year. The service’s mobile app currently offers users the ability to browse movie recommendations, share recommendations with their friends, and find movies available to play on Dish’s TV service as well as Dish Anywhere.
“What was that awesome movie your best friend shared with you? Can’t remember? Don’t worry, Flixpert helps you quickly remember the best recommendations from friends when you need them the most,” the app description on the Play Store reads.
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Flixpert’s iOS and Android apps can be freely accessed by anyone, but without any promotion, there has been little uptick from ordinary users. Flixpert’s Android app has been downloaded just north of 50 times, according to Google Play. Publicly available Facebook data suggests that the service may currently only have a few hundred monthly active users.
Work on Flixpert seems to be at least partially motivated by a fear of being out-innovated by other online video services and their respective content recommendation engines. A slide deck for an internal corporate presentation on the service, which was briefly available online but has since been removed, specifically called out Netflix and its content recommendation efforts, quoting Netflix execs saying that personalization and recommendations had saved the streaming giant more than $1 billion per year.
The deck continued by asking: “How will Flixpert help EchoStar do the same?” The presentation also suggested that the platform would help the company to become “the center of the conversation with industry giants.”
The document framed Flixpert-style crowdsourcing as an answer to algorithmic content recommendations, concluding: “Recommendations have been taken over by strangers and bad algorithms. People are tired of searching and settling. Let’s bring the conversation back to the people!”