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Tribune Media Leads $2.75 Million Round in Digital-Video News Startup Watchup

Newspaper publisher McClatchy also invests in startup, whose service delivers personalized Internet newscasts


Watchup, a startup that delivers personalized newscasts to Internet-video devices, has raised $2.75 million in funding led by Tribune Media.

The round included participation from newspaper publisher The McClatchy Co. and existing investors Knight Foundation, Stanford University’s StartX Fund and Campus Televideo founder Ned Lamont. The latest round brings Watchup’s total funding raised to $4.25 million. Other investors include former WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz; Tom Yellin, former ABC News executive producer and president of production company The Documentary Group; and Turner Broadcasting (through the Media Camp accelerator program).

Watchup, founded in 2012 at Stanford’s StartX accelerator, culls news from sources including PBS NewsHour, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CBS Interactive’s CNET, Univision Communications and Sky News. The Watchup service then delivers that content in a personalized video-news stream to iOS and Android tablets and smartphones, Google Glass and Amazon’s Fire TV.

“Watchup extends our vision of expanding the reach of quality local news content, and we are excited to invest in a product dedicated to ensuring that local news is available everywhere,” Larry Wert, Tribune Media’s president of broadcasting, said in a statement.

Added McClatchy president and CEO Pat Talamantes, “The visual web is becoming increasingly important to digital media companies, and we see Watchup as being a key innovator in this space.”

With the funding, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Watchup plans to invest in improving its personalization algorithm and expand the service to additional TV-connected devices, said co-founder and CEO Adriano Farano. Watchup currently has six employees, and he expects to double that within the next few months.

“We want to go toward ecosystems where our personalized news experience makes sense — and that’s the TV in the living room,” Farano said. Watchup’s service is ad-supported, and the startup has pilots with CBS Interactive and Fox to serve preroll ads in its video newscasts.

With the addition of Tribune Media and McClatchy as backers, Watchup’s investors have “hundreds of years of journalistic history combined and yet they are all realizing how dramatically watching habits have changed,” Farano said.