Small Screen, Big Idea: GetGlue Positioned To Power Social TV

Today GetGlue reveals a new $12 million funding round. Much more potent, however, is news that its check-in rate is up 1,000%, and that 75 TV networks are using GetGlue’s social tech to appeal to fans.

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GetGlue’s an interesting little entity, and one you may not immediately think of when the topic of social medai, sharing, check-ins, and social review sites comes up. Yet as its press release today notes, the firm is seeing such success that, following a $6 million funding round in 2010, it’s raised another $12 million in financing led by Rho Ventures–a firm that professes to be a non-traditional VC with a bent toward IT, comms, and new media.

GetGlue’s been so successful in fact that it’s also saying its user base has crossed the 2 million mark, it surpassed over 100 million check-ins during 2011, and its database now encompasses “over 350 million check-ins, ratings, and reviews.” Based on this success, today’s news comes alongside a revamp of the website and the “flagship iPhone app” and an announcement of intent: “With this funding, GetGlue will continue to play a market defining role as social television goes mainstream.”

That, of course, is the hidden juicy fact here. Social television is very much on deck for 2012, with many a reveal at CES of different connected televisions and set-top boxes, devices which bring social media engagement directly to the big screen in everyone’s living room. (Myspace and Justin Timberlake are getting in on that action.)

Fast Company spoke to founder and CEO Alex Iskold today: “We’ve been following the social TV scene, which is an extremely exciting and growing market.” Iskold said that the new money will really help “create a market-defining role as we think social television is going to go mainstream in 2012 into 2013.” The growth in the industry, Iskold thinks, comes via a number of factors: “People find socializing around TV and entertainment so exciting, and the market is further catalyzed by the networks really wanting to pull social and TV together, and are putting a lot of promotional muscle behind it.” He also confirmed that while check-ins to movies and books and so on will remain part of the experience, as the firm views entertainment “holistically,” Iskold highlighted that “TV is by far the biggest vertical for us.”

The new cash injection will help “the main goal of building up the product, and our user base,” and in 2012 GetGlue also plans to launch new innovations which includes targeting TV guides. Iskold said those have become “stale and impersonal, and we want to change this by introducing the next gen of the guide which is personal and smart and knows your habits and knows your tastes”–and ropes in social facets.

Unbeknownst to its users, perhaps, GetGlue’s platform and analytics have been used by 75 major TV networks to drive social interaction on 680 “popular shows,” according to the press release, names which include ABC and Fox, and cable networks like MTV and HBO. “In addition, over 30 major media companies have embedded GetGlue’s check-in platform into their apps and websites. Notably DirecTV is now using GetGlue to power check-ins and their social television guide on the first screen.” To avoid disasters like the ill-fated early attempt to live-mesh social chat on Twitter and shows like Fringe, GetGlue’s also honed its filtering tech to “reduce noise and help fans enjoy chatting with each other as they watch TV.”


So add to interesting developments like the Ubuntu TV, Samsung’s efforts to include voice and gesture control in their sets as revealed at CES, and Apple’s entry into the TV market this year or next, the fact that social interaction really is coming to TV. The networks want it thanks to the deeper analytic insight they can gain about viewers. And so, clearly, do cable providers: Time Warner was one of the original investors in GetGlue, and also took part in the new round of funding. Now one big question yet to be answered reamains: Do viewers want it?

[Image: Flickr user Gry]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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