SeaChange buys TimeLine Labs, Boosts Social Media Portfolio

Multiscreen video software vendor SeaChange International has agreed to buy social media TV analysis specialist Timeline Labs for $14 million in cash. The move signifies the growing importance of social media interaction for pay TV operators, even if the phenomenon has not grown as rapidly as was anticipated two or three years ago. Timeline is a California-based SaaS (Software as a Service) company providing software for real time analysis of social media messages, giving operators, broadcasters or content providers the ability to find and distribute newsworthy social trends and insights. The software also enables viewing audience engagement across television, mobile and PC, to be measured.

According to Malcolm CasSelle, Timeline Labs’s CEO, the company’s key differentiator is the ability to provide powerful search tools across multiple social networks to identify breaking and trending news. “We also feature visualization tools that let broadcasters and other news teams do what they do best: tell stories and break news,” said CasSelle. “With SeaChange we anticipate cross-selling opportunities that will help us extend our platform to new customers including multiscreen and OTT service providers in new geographies.”

Timeline’s software is based on a content management platform that enables its customers to discover, curate and display geographically targeted news stories that are currently trending across social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is already deployed with US broadcast customers such as FOX Television Stations, Sinclair, Media General and Tribune broadcast television stations, as well as online providers like 120Sports.com. Investors include former executives of television networks ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Guggenheim Digital Media.

For SeaChange the acquisition will extend the ability to support social news analysis from the traditional broadcast segment to multiscreen providers, according to its CEO Jay Samit.

Social media integration with TV in its various guises has been slower to take off than many analysts predicted, lagging behind social network use itself. This was highlighted at the 2014 US Super Bowl almost a year ago, when twitter conversation actually fell slightly by 3% over the previous year, according to the Nielsen SocialGuide.

This though was a blip explained by last year’s match being less competitive than the one before and generally social TV engagement has been rising, if unspectacularly. According to the Nielsen State of Social Media report, the impact of social media on TV viewing is steadily increasing on most key counts. For example 12% of people surveyed said they recorded more programs as a result of social media recommendations or activity in 2013, compared with 10% in 2012, while 11% said they watched more live TV as a result, up from 8% a year earlier. The latest findings indicate these trends have continued during 2014 and SeaChange decided now is the time to ramp up its offering on this front by extending to multiscreen.

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