Rovi Buys Fanhattan to Pitch Startup’s Fan TV Box to Cable Operators

Rovi, a provider of entertainment metadata and TV guide software, has acquired Fanhattan, a four-year-old startup that had seen limited traction for its set-top box and interface designed to provide a next-generation experience for cable TV services.

Rovi did not disclose the purchase price, but said the deal was all-cash. San Francisco-based Fanhattan had raised at least $8.4 million from investors including NEA, Redpoint Ventures, BV Capital and Greycroft Partners. The startup has 46 employees.

According to Rovi, Fanhattan founders Gilles BianRosa and Olivier Chalouhi will remain with the company as part of Rovi’s Discovery Products Business Group. The Fan TV device and software integrates multiple sources of programming, such as linear cable TV and video-on-demand with over-the-top video into an integrated interface.

Fanhattan, founded in 2010, initially launched a video-discovery app for finding movies and TV shows from multiple sources. Then it switched focus to developing a set-top box, the Fan TV, that would pull together all video into one screen on the HDTV.

But while Fanhattan’s foray into the device arena gained some attention from MSOs, it never took off as the hoped-for cable box replacement the founders had imagined; among other things, the Fan TV lacks DVR capabilities, while most cable operators have long-term investments in their existing devices and infrastructure.

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Time Warner Cable launched Fan TV, priced at $99, earlier this year — positioning the device as a complement to its regular set-tops and DVRs. Last year Cox Communications launched a short-lived test using Fan TV as part of a broadband-delivered subscription TV service trial in Southern California.

Rovi’s acquisition of Fanhattan dovetails with the company’s strategy to deliver next-generation guides for service providers, Omar Javaid, SVP and GM of Rovi’s Discovery Group, said in announcing the deal. “We believe the Fanhattan technologies and team will complement Rovi’s advanced metadata, semantic discovery and predictive analytics capabilities to offer truly differentiated solutions to our customers,” he said.

According to a Rovi rep, Fanhattan was not a customer of Rovi’s metadata.

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