I have noticed ten M&A transactions and investments throughout Europe and parts of US until now in 2017, writes Christian Töpper, managing director of Taxxus Media.
For sure, in this fragmented industry I will not have got everything. However, it seems as if M&A is getting more important in a lesser known part of the TV and Video industry: the TV navigation marketplace. These are (TV) metadata providers and companies offering search and recommendation as well as data collection and analysis solutions in the broadcasting industry.
Letting consumers know what´s available on TV seems to becoming a real business issue. But the other way round seems even more thrilling: letting TV operators know which content consumers used, is sending this business into the next hype. Connecting consumers with content will open completely new dimensions to TV content owners, to advertisers, to aggregators, and – as they hope – for operators as well.
TV navigation, and all the issues connected, had not always been in a business focus in the past. The EPG had been a technical component for quite some time. Platforms and operators had one. But that was it.
In days when Netflix is shaking up the world of TV consumption, this is changing. Other US OTT players like Youtube, Amazon, Hulu that are getting traction. Traditional operators feel the heat of OTT. Now, TV service providers, most visible in the US, are trying to get back into the lead. They are using metadata driven services to enhance user experience and to develop new services for content owners, broadcasters, and advertisers.
EPG, search and recommendation, addressable TV, all these buzzwords are without substance if there is not first class TV metadata set at hand. It is *the* tool to link content to distribution channels (linear and non-linear), to users (at home, on the go), to devices (TV, smartphone, car, …), to advertisement. Every single part of TV UX is driven by the availability of TV metadata.
It´s about raw materials: You need raw materials to put intelligence on it. But the TV metadata “raw materials”-industry, suppliers like Gracenote/Nielsen, Tivo/Rowi, and media press Group are much closer to a broadcast stream than an aluminium plant is to a smartphone. Their hundreds of skilled developers speak the same language, care about the same things as their counterparts at broadcasters and operators.
Historically, the TV metadata industry had been run by quite traditional thinking folks. Like their clients had been. Lot´s of them (me too) went through an education in the print media, publishing daily TV listings in newspapers. But – with their clients – this is changing since a while. Nowadays the top TV metadata companies are tech driven innovators.
In an industry changing that fast, it´s only consequent that M&A is coming around. Driving factors are consolidation on the one hand, and innovation on the other. Both models can be seen when it comes to selling or buying TV navigation related operations.
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Startup SambaTV raises 30m USD growth capital, Time Warner, A+E Networks involved
Late in June, SambaTV, a data and analytics company, received a 30m USD growth investment. Analyzing TV viewership across millions of households worldwide, Samba TV’s technology lets consumers discover and watch the shows they love while giving brands a view of content and advertising consumption across broadcast and cable TV, OTT, apps and digital platforms.
Founded in 2008, SambaTV had received 8,2m USD venture and series A investments.
2015, SambaTV bought Warsaw based startup Filmaster for 1m USD. Filmaster provided Netflix-like personalization and analytics solutions for the entertainment industry.
Time Warner also invested in Conviva. It looks like big data issues – which are connected to TV metadata and recommendation – are in the cable TV giant´s venture focus. Different from Comcast, they seem to keep their investments at some operational distance, while Comcast integrates units like Watchwith into their day to day business.
Ericsson to sell TV metadata division?
In June, Ericsson is said to be investigating the sale of its broadcast and media services division. The sale would include the content and design business, historically known as RedBee, acquired by Ericsson in 2014. Inside Ericsson/RedBee the TV metadata division is serving top tire operator and broadcaster clients.
Only a year ago, Ericsson acquired US metadata supplier FYI Television in an attempt to catch up with its main competitors Gracenote and TiVo in the US market. Today some say, players like Cisco might be looking at buying Ericsson broadcast and media services.
2011 Red Bee, now part of Ericsson, acquired TV Genius, a TV search and recommendation company.
The TV metadata unit is probably not at the core of Ericsson´s strategic thoughts. Therefore it seems as if this deal – if it comes – will be part of an ongoing process of consolidation in the industry.
Genius Digital data technology acquired by Verimatrix
In June 2017, Verimatrix, the content protection company, acquired software and team of Genius Digital´s MiriMON technology. MiriMON is described as a data collection agent to collect data from an operator´s set-top box in real-time.
GfK, the market intelligence company from Nuremberg, Germany, invested into Genius Digital in 2013 and 2014 – only to give it back to the founders in 2016. Earlier in their lives, founders of Genius Digital had been creating TV Genius, which had been sold to Ericsson in 2011.
It seems as if Genius Digital is creating real value to the market. But there might still be a lack in stability of the business model.
Conviva: $40m investment by i.a. Time Warner
Looking for analytics is driving the $40m investment in Conviva in June 2017. The startup analyzes OTT viewing patterns and makes sense of the metadata for media companies like HBO and Sky. Broadcasters are learning from Conviva data, which device is using the broadcaster´s streams and how the stream performs. Matching Conviva data with broadcaster´s schedule metadata improves knowledge about user behavior and content consumption.
The investment is mainly coming from venture capital firms, as well as from Time Warner Investments. Total VC investment into the 2006 founded company is more than 100m USD.
As in other industries, investors are believing in data intelligence. Now coming to the broadcaster´s world…
Streaming guide startup Guidebox acquired by ColorTV
In April 2017, Guidebox, a startup founded 2012, was acquired by ColorTV – which itself was created in December 2015.
Guidebox is a B2B service aggregating streaming content data from hundreds of video services. It allows developers to enable end-to-end movie and TV discovery within their website or native iOS or Android applications. Enhancing video metadata coming from the video providers, is core part of Guidebox´ services.
ColorTV provides personalized video recommendations, real time tune in and rich data insights for content creators across OTT platforms. Enhancing metadata is part of ColorTV´s service. On top, they provide B2B recommendation services in the app world.
Funke Mediengruppe takes complete control over EPG startup Stanwood
Germany´s big TV magazine and newspaper publisher Funke bought last Stanwood shares in April 2017.
Stanwood was founded in 2009 and operates the “On Air” mobile EPG application. Stanwood employs 30 developers and product managers staff. They offer B2B EPG and metadata services in Germany, Funke being a major client.
Funke had been invested in Stanwood shares already in 2015, taking 33% of the shares at that time.
2014, Funke had been buying the TV magazine business from Axel Springer. Part of the deal had also been Watchmi TV guide services.
TV recommendation engine startup MightyTV acquired by Spotify
In late March 2017, Spotify, the music streaming service, bought New York based MightyTV, a Tinder-style recommendation and personalization app for TV content.
MightyTV is known for its knowledge in programmatic advertising and personalization. They will become part of Spotify´s global ad technology teams.
Founded in 2015, MightyTV had been funded by VC investors who had put 4,25m USD into the company.
Through acquiring MightyTV, Spotify is investing in innovation and monetization of their content services. Furthermore, the deal indicates that video might play a bigger role for Spotify in the future.
media press Group acquires Port Networks, #1 CEE TV metadata provider, and invests in the Baltics
Swiss-based TV metadata provider media press Group acquired their CEE counterpart Port Networks in early March 2017. Port Networks is running TV metadata services in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Romania. It´s services are covering the whole ex Yugoslavia region, and will be integrated into media press Group´s existing network.
media press Group is already operating services in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, and Bulgaria. The Port acquisition is giving media press broad European metadata coverage.
It is said that other big TV metadata operators had been interested in Port´s acquisition, driven by Port´s content and client portfolio.
Later in March 2017, media press Group announced the creation of media press Baltics by investing in two local enterprises in Lithuania and in Estonia.
2016, media press had been co-founding The European Metadata Group, together with Plurimedia in France and with Bindinc in the Netherlands.
media press Group´s investments in CEE and the Baltics are part of building up a network of local content production entities which share group-wide standards and technology.
Watchwith: Deep dive TV metadata company acquired by Comcast
Deciphering what is inside a movie, a TV show, or a sports emission is what Watchwith´s platform does. Watchwith´s technologies should improve search and discovery capabilities by identifying which actors are appearing on screen, locations shown in a given scene, or the start of a memorable scene within a sports emission. This is done by a mix of manual, editorial tagging and automated mechanisms of media analysis.
Comcast bought Watchwith in January 2017. The cable TV giant had integrated the Watchwith technology and team into its CoMPASS (Comcast Metadata Products and Search Services) unit.
Previously, Watchwith had been VC funded. It received a total of 13m USD investment for developing an In-Program Video Ads service. Investors had been i.a. Rogers Venture Partners and Samsung, as well as telecom supplier Arris.
Comcast might be leading the global TV service provider´s industry when it comes to enhanced services for users, broadcasters, and advertisers. Metadata obviously play a role in Comcast´s strategy. And within this aerea, Comcast seems to be using all types of tools of investment to improve its knowledge, team and offering.
Watchup: Acquired by Plex
In January 2017, news video aggregator Watchup was acquired by Plex.
Watchup is a smart solution for discovering and personalising news video.
Plex supplies a service for organising video content on customer´s devices, using a Plex media server plus Plex apps.
Watchup´s role inside Plex might be to aggregate more of news video content to Plex´s content aggregation and distribution platform.