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Zone TV aims to use artificial intelligence to program TV channels

Technology firms and advertisers for years have been trying to figure out how to use cloud technology and digital data to curate programming tailored to individual viewers.

Zone TV, which has offices in Santa Monica and Toronto, on Monday announced the latest experiment in that pursuit.

The company plans to launch a group of 14 subscription video-on-demand television channels, including Foodies, Great Outdoors, Motors, Stylers, Mancave and Playground for children.

The twist: rather than employing TV executives to program the channels, Zone TV said it uses artificial intelligence to select and serve videos to individual viewers.

Zone TV said it has secured license agreements with various content owners, including NASA, the production firm behind the children’s show “Bob the Builder,” and traditional magazine publishers including Field & Stream and Outdoor Life to construct a small library of programming. It has been in talks with pay-TV providers to add its so-called dynamic channel streams to the pay-TV bundles offered consumers.

The company hopes to market the package of channels at around $6 a month. However, it would be up to the pay-TV companies to set the price.

Zone TV is hoping to sign deals with major pay-TV operators by offering a share of the revenue generated by the streams, but it declined to disclose the companies it has been working with.

“We are bringing content not available on TV,” Jeff Weber, chief executive of Zone TV, said in an interview. “We are putting it into a better consumer experience that allows personalization — and we are also changing the business model.”

Efforts such as Zone TV’s dynamic channels could benefit small independent content creators by helping them distribute their videos to television viewers.

Executives of the privately held firm — including company founder and executive chairman Douglas Edwards — have been refining the technology for more than a decade. The company was previously known as ES3.

Viewers would discover the channels because they would be listed in the pay-TV operators’ digital program guides. They also would have the capability to create their own “my zone” channel, which would be filled with programming specific to their tastes from the various Zone TV channels.

meg.james@latimes.com

@MegJamesLAT

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