Startup TV Time is opening the kimono to its database with billions of fan reactions to television shows — to let TV networks, digital-video services and others take a deeper dive into the buzz about specific programs, characters, and episodes.
The company’s new TVLytics platform provides a window into reactions to 60,000 shows, including on traditional TV and on subscription VOD services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube. The data is pulled from TV Time’s user base, which averages 750,000-1 million active users on a daily basis. The free app lets users track TV shows, get recommendations and vote in different categories for each program.
The point of TVLytics isn’t to gauge total audience for a TV show, a la Nielsen ratings. Rather, TV Time’s TVLytics is designed to provide a read on what fans of a particular show are especially passionate about (or, by the same token, what they hate) and benchmark that against other content.
“We had this app that had interesting trend insights, and ultimately clients wanted a platform to look at their shows versus every other show — down to the episode level — and they wanted it in real time,” said Jeremy Reed, TV Time’s head of programming. The company has sold custom reports before, but now it’s selling self-serve access to the full TV Time database.
What’s important to note: The data aggregated by TV Time is self-reported — it’s not a passive measurement service that tracks actual behavior. In addition, the app’s user base skews young, primarily comprising people 18-34. Another point: Only 10%-12% of its active users are in the U.S. The company is boosting its focus on increasing reach into the U.S., according to Reed.
TV Time competes against other players that track social reaction to TV shows and viewing on OTT platforms, including Nielsen and specialty firms like 7Park Data and Canvs. TV Time’s execs say the company’s approach is different because its app collects first-party data (i.e., it’s not culling reactions from Facebook or Twitter) from highly engaged television viewers in real time. And compared to rivals, TV Time provides more fine-grained analysis, showing viewers’ emotional reaction to a series, episode, character, or specific moments in an episode.
For example, TV Time’s data shows that fans of Netflix’s “GLOW” are most likely to also be interested in “Fleabag” (BBC/Amazon), “Barry” (HBO) and “Crazyhead” (E4/Netflix).
“It’s a quantitative way to get at qualitative data,” said Carol Hanley, TV Time’s chief revenue officer. She joined the company last fall, after serving as CRO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group.
To date, TV Time has logged more than 10 billion data points from users about individual episodes, and it claims users check into the app more than 43 million times per month. According to Hanley, to data can help business users identify emerging trends, analyze competitors, and find new audiences, as well as to help inform casting, licensing and marketing decisions about shows.
Hanley wouldn’t reveal current customers of TV Time, but she said clients include TV networks, over-the-top and talent agencies. Nor would she disclose pricing but said the service is available as a site license for a flat annual fee.
According to Hanley, one of TV Time’s network clients recently used the TVLytics tool as part of negotiating advertising deals. Ad buyers were undervaluing one of the network’s primetime shows compared with a competing program that had a slightly higher Nielsen rating. Using TVLytics, the network found that its own lower-rated show actually had higher engagement and more positive sentiment than the competitor, and used that to obtain higher ad rates.
Meanwhile, how comfortable are TV Time’s users with the fact that the company is selling their data (albeit anonymized) to third parties? Hanley said the company is fully transparent with users about its business model. In fact, after it recently updated the app to comply with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the additional disclosures about TV Time’s data-sharing practices turned out to actually improve engagement. “We thought we’d get blowback but it’s actually been positive,” Hanley said. Users “have the sense they are affecting the creation of TV shows.”
TVLytics provides different categories of metrics including mobility (which devices fans are watching the show, including phones, tablets, computers or televisions, and how does that vary by content, genre or country); favorite characters; anticipation about new/returning shows; affinity (which competitive or similar shows fans of a series are also watching); bingeing (how quickly are shows being watched over a time period); social engagement (which shows fans share or post about most in their social feeds); and emotional response (how viewers react to specific episodes or different kinds of programming).
The company’s current business model is a pivot from the original plan. It was founded in 2014 as Whipclip, whose app was designed as a social network for TV fans to share short, licensed clips of their favorite shows. That didn’t work because the startup had difficulty obtaining rights to clips; last year it changed its name to TV Time and migrated Whipclip users to the new app. The social features of the current app are based on tech developed by TVShow Time, a small Paris-based startup the company acquired in December 2016.
TV Time’s listing data largely comes from open-source provider TheTVDB.com, supplemented with data from ColorTV-owned Guidebox, a provider of TV search and discovery metadata.
TV Time has about 35 employees, most based at its Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters, with a three-person team in Paris who came from TVShow Time. the company has raised $60 million to date from investors including WME, Eminence Capital, IVP, Raine Ventures, Greycroft, and industry execs including Ari Emanuel, Peter Guber, Steve Bornstein, Scooter Braun, Gordon Crawford and Ron Zuckerman. The company is led by co-founder and CEO Richard Rosenblatt, former chief exec of Demand Media and chairman of Myspace.
The TV Time app is available free to download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. The app offers subscriptions for $1.99 monthly (or $11.99 yearly), which provides access to special features like custom posters, fan art and access to enhanced stats.
Here’s a screenshot of TVlytics’ show view, displaying results for Netflix’s “GLOW”: