A New Way to Find TV Shows to Binge: Watchworthy App Claims Instant Personalized Recommendations

Todd Spangler

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In the time of “Netflix and quarantine,” more people than ever are looking for the next great TV show to binge-watch. But with literally tens of thousands of titles across multiple streaming services, it’s tough to zero in on the ones you’re most likely to love.

Now there’s a new app aiming to offer a solution. Ranker, a site that provides fan-powered rankings across different categories, has launched Watchworthy: a free app that offers personalized TV recommendations and lets users build their own watchlists from dozens of TV networks and over 200 streaming services including Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus.

The app, initially available for only iPhones and iPads, launched Sunday on Apple’s App Store. A version of Watchworthy for other mobile devices is available at watchworthy.app, and the company plans to release native Watchworthy apps for additional platforms including Android, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV later in 2020.

Watchworthy’s recommendations are powered by Ranker’s proprietary machine-learning algorithms, which crunch thousands of new and existing up-or-down votes for TV shows. The app correlates the ratings submitted by users to calculate the shows most highly correlated to a Watchworthy user’s own picks (i.e., “if you like X, you’ll also like Y and Z”). According to Clark Benson, founder and CEO of Ranker, Watchworthy is the most statistically relevant crowd-sourced TV show recommendation app available — delivering pinpoint psychographic picks based on a user’s own favorites.

For example, Ranker’s data indicates that fans of AMC’s “Better Call Saul” tend to love gritty, dark dramas like Netflix’s “House of Cards,” Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” and HBO’s “True Detective” — and they’re also probably likely to enjoy cerebral comedies like Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You” and HBO’s “High Maintenance.”

Meanwhile, if you like Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” the top TV series you’re most likely to fancy are “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “Black Mirror,” “Westworld,” “American Horror Story,” “Riverdale” and “Penny Dreadful,” per Ranker’s data.

Of course, individual services like Netflix and Hulu provide recommendations for stuff in their own catalogs. But Watchworthy is platform-agnostic and spans both current and past shows. “Personalized recommendations are, surprisingly, still an open playing field in TV,” Benson said.

The company claims that a Watchworthy user needs to provide “likes” or “dislikes” on a just a handful of shows — with an on-boarding process that takes less than one minute — for the app to be able to discern with accurate probability what shows the user is likely to love (or not) across all networks and streaming services. It can then connect users directly to the TV shows on whichever streaming services they’re available.

Benson believes there’s plenty of demand for an app that can deliver more accurate suggestions. In the U.S. alone, consumers had access to over 58,000 streaming titles available only on subscription VOD services as of December 2019, according to Nielsen estimates.

Given the content glut, “it’s only getting harder to pick new shows across all of the new streaming services popping up,” Benson said. “Watchworthy is designed to relieve the paradox of choice by accurately recommending what is worthy of your time, where to find it and how to watch it.”

The Watchworthy app assigns shows a “worthy” score based on the percentage likelihood that an individual title is a match. Users can filter recommended shows by service, genre, runtime and content ratings. They also will have the ability to specify which streaming services they currently subscribe to. In addition, Watchworthy integrates Ranker’s 50,000 TV lists — e.g. “The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made,” “Funniest Female TV Characters” and “The Best Villains of the Small Screen” — for users to explore.

Benson said the company developing more features for Watchworthy, including adding movie recommendations and group-based recommendations (i.e., titles that two or more people would be most likely to love). The app’s revenue streams include advertising and fees from partner streaming service, which pay a bounty if someone Watchworthy refers to them signs up as a customer.

Launched in 2009, Ranker claims to have accumulated more than 1 billion votes on topics ranging from TV to movies, from video games to sports, and from food to lifestyle. The L.A.-based company, which Benson says is profitable, has about 100 employees.

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