TV Time debuts an analytics platform for the streaming era

TV Time, the consumer app that helps bingers keep track of where they are with favorite shows and socialize with fellow viewers, is today expanding its business with the launch of an analytics platform called TVLytics. The new service will allow creators and distributors to tap into real-time data from across more than 60,000 TV shows. It will also offer other anonymized data collected from viewers, including things like on which platforms viewers watched, their favorite characters, bingeing behavior, viewers’ locations, anticipation from fans for new episodes, social engagement and more.

The data is pulled from the app’s community of around a million daily users from more than 200 countries who check in with the app some 45 million times per month. To date, TV Time has tracked more than 10 billion TV episodes, and has seen 210 million reactions.

TV Time began its life as a source for TV show GIFs known as WhipClip, but later pivoted to a social TV community after acquiring TVShow Time in December 2016. This proved to be a smart move on its part, as the company has grown to 12 million registered users (and growing).

The app’s core functionality is focused on offering TV viewers a place where they can follow shows and mark off the ones they’ve watched — something that’s especially helpful in the streaming era where people are often hopping from one binge-watching session to another, then back again, or are watching multiple series at once and need to remember where they left off.

In addition to being a utility for tracking shows, the app offers a community section for each episode where fans can post photos, videos, GIFs and memes, as well as like and comment on the content others share. Viewers can even leave video reactions about each episode, in a format similar to the “Stories” found on apps like Instagram or Snapchat.

TV Time also interjects questions of its own — asking about your reaction (good, funny, wow, sad, etc.), favorite character, device watched on and more. And it inserts its own polls in the middle of the fan discussion page, which ask about pivotal moments from the episode and what people thought.

With the launch of analytics, TV Time aims to make use of all this data by offering it to clients in the TV industry who are looking for more comprehensive viewership data for planning purposes.

Of course, TV Time’s data is not a Nielsen equivalent — it’s user-generated and self-reported. That means it’s not going to be able to tell content creators, networks, distributors and other clients how many people are watching a show exactly. Nor can it give a holistic overview of the show’s fan base. TV Time’s viewers skew younger — in the 18 to 34-year-old range — and only around 10 to 15 percent are based in the U.S., though that market is the fastest growing.

But TV Time can tap into the reactions and sentiments shared by a subset of a show’s most engaged fans.

Its paying clients today include a handful of TV networks, streaming services and talent agencies that have been testing the app in beta for around a month. They use TV Time’s analytics to help spot trends, develop and expand a show’s audience and make decisions about how to cast and market their shows. Some have also used it in advertising negotiations. Customers pay a flat annual subscription fee for access to this data, but TV Time won’t disclose exact pricing.

“We’ve been testing it to figure out which of the insights we’ve launched are most valuable. That’s how we landed on things like the completion rate, the binge rate, affinity reports, mobility scores and favorite characters,” explains TV Time head of Programming, Jeremy Reed.

The value offered by TVLytics data doesn’t just come from the data itself, but also how hard it is to collect. In today’s fragmented TV viewing ecosystem, consumers now watch across devices, and split their time between live TV, recorded TV, live TV delivered over the internet, subscription video services and internet video sites, like YouTube.

In addition, TV Time notes that, overall, the number of long-form shows on television has grown by 69 percent since 2012, with nearly 500 scripted original series airing in 2017, citing data from FX Research Networks. The majority of these scripted shows are coming from over-the-top platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and others. That’s a lot of TV content to keep up with, especially as consumers hop between devices — even in the midst of a single episode.

What TV Time does is keep all this viewing data together in a single destination, and can make connections about what viewers are watching across platforms — from TV to Netflix and beyond.

“With studios — they’re looking two years out in producing content. They start to see trends in types of characters, and certainly start to see the characters of this show resonate with the characters of this other show and start to see the overlap,” notes Reed. Plus, he adds, that overlap is “agnostic to platform.”

TV Time data is put to use for consumers as well, in terms of helping to recommend their next binge.

And now its community is demanding the ability to track movies, too — especially now that streaming services are backing their own feature films. Reed says this isn’t something TV Time has planned for the near-term, as there’s so much to do around episodic content — but that it’s absolutely “a never-say-never” kind of thing, he hints.

Santa Monica-based TV Time’s team of 35 is backed by $60+ million in funding, according to Crunchbase, from investors including Eminence Capital, WME, IVP, Raine Ventures and Greycroft, plus individual entertainment and media industry executives like Ari Emanuel, Peter Guber, Steve Bornstein, Scooter Braun, Gordon Crawford and Ron Zuckerman.

Bannersnack makes it easy to punch the monkey (and more)

An app like Bannersnack is something you never think you need — until you do. Designed by a digital marketer from Romania, Gabriel Ciordas, the app was originally called FlashEff and was used to create Flash banners for online marketers. Over time, however, HTML5 and graphics overtook Flash and the company pivoted to offering easy-to-use design tools for marketers and business owners.

The service is free to try and costs $7 a month 30 static images; $18 a month gets you embedded banners with full analytics. The company is completely bootstrapped and has been working in the space since 2008.

“Bannersnack has always been self-funded. We built our resources step by step, as our business grew together with our efforts. We think it’s fair to say that we worked for every penny we’ve ever gotten and further invested it back into growing our business,” said Ciordas.

The service has 100,000 monthly users who create 180,000 visuals a month. They offer standalone graphics as well as responsive HTML5 images. The most interesting tool, the Banner Generator, creates banners in multiple sizes instantly, freeing business owners up to do what they do best: sell stuff.

Again, it is rare to see a product so focused on a single, important niche, and Bannersnack fits the bill. While you could fire up Pixelmator and try to make your own banners, this tool is surprisingly pleasant to use and works quite well.

“Our main objective is to empower marketers, designers, and business owners, while reshaping the way agencies and businesses create visuals for their marketing purposes,” said Ciordas. After all, not everyone has the skills or talent to create flashing banners featuring exciting mortgage reduction opportunities and free iPad sweepstakes.

Tableau gets new pricing plans and a data preparation tool

Data analytics platform Tableau today announced the launch of both a new data preparation product and a new subscription pricing plan.

Currently, Tableau offers desktop plans for users who want to analyze their data locally, a server plan for businesses that want to deploy the service on-premises or on a cloud platform, and a fully hosted online plan. Prices for these range from $35 to $70 per user and month. The new pricing plans don’t focus so much on where the data is analyzed but on the analyst’s role. The new Creator, Explorer and Viewer plans are tailored toward the different user experiences. They all include access to the new Tableau Prep data preparation tool, Tableau Desktop and new web authoring capabilities — and they are available both on premises or in the cloud.

Existing users can switch their server or desktop subscriptions to the new release today and then assign each user either a creator, explorer or viewer role. As the name indicates, the new viewer role is meant for users who mostly consume dashboards and visualizations, but don’t create their own. The explorer role is for those who need access to a pre-defined data set and the creator role is for analysts and power user who need access to all of Tableau’s capabilities.

“Organizations are facing the urgent need to empower their entire workforce to help drive more revenue, reduce costs, provide better service, increase productivity, discover the next scientific breakthrough and even save lives,” said Adam Selipsky, CEO at Tableau, in today’s announcement. “Our new offerings will help entire organizations make analytics ubiquitous, enabling them to tailor the capabilities required for every employee.”

As for the new data preparation tool, the general idea here is to give users a visual way to shape and clean their data, something that’s especially important as businesses now often pull in data from a variety of sources. Tableau Prep can automate some of this, but the most important aspect of the service is that it gives users a visual interface for creating these kind of workflows. Prep includes support for all the standard Tableau data connectors and lets users perform calculations, too.

“Our customers often tell us that they love working with Tableau, but struggle when data is in the wrong shape for analysis,” said Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau. “We believe data prep and data analysis are two sides of the same coin that should be deeply integrated and look forward to bringing fun, easy data prep to everyone regardless of technical skill set.”

AI game trainer Gosu.ai raises $1.9M to give gamers a virtual assistant

If you play hardcore and competitive games, you want to win, so it would be useful to have someone leaning over your shoulder giving you tips on how to play better. Someone who knows all your moves and behaviors, for instance.

That’s the thinking behind Gosu.ai, which has developed an AI assistant to help gamers play smarter and improve their skills. It’s now raised a $1.9M funding round led by Runa Capital, with participation from Ventech and existing investor, Sistema_VC. Previously, the startup was backed by Gagarin Capital, a new Silicon Valley-based early-stage VC firm focusing on AI investments, which invested in Prisma and MSQRD, which exited to Facebook and Google, respectively.

Gosu.ai provides tools and guidance for users to improve their skills in competitive games. It analyzes their matches and makes personal recommendations. It also helps players prep, suggesting gear sets, starting items and offering ideas on how to take on a particular opponent. The platform currently works with Dota 2, with plans to support CS:GO and PUBG in the near future.

The company was founded by Alisa Chumachenko (pictured), who was the creator and former CEO of Game Insight, a big gaming world player. She says: “There are 2 billion gamers in the world now and 600 million of them play hardcore games, such as MOBAs, Shooters and MMOs. We can help those players reach their full potential with our AI assistants.”

Gosu.ai’s main competitors are Mobalytics, Dojomadness and Moremmr. But the main difference is that these competitors make analytics of raw statistics, and find the generalized weak spots in comparison with other players, giving general recommendations. Gosu.ai analyzes the specific actions of each player, down to the movement of their mouse, to cater direct recommendations for the player. So it’s more like a virtual assistant than a training platform.

In addition, Gosu works in the B2B field, as well, by offering gaming companies a variety of AI tools, for example a predictive analytics.

Mixpanel analytics accidentally slurped up passwords

 The passwords of some people using sites monitored by popular analytics provider Mixpanel were mistakenly pulled into its software. Until TechCrunch’s inquiry, Mixpanel had made no public announcement about the embarrassing error beyond quietly emailing clients about the problem. Yet some need to update to a fixed Mixpanel SDK to prevent an ongoing privacy breach. Read More