Measurement company iSpot.TV acquired Tunity, which gets data on out-of-home TV viewing through an app that enables people to listen to muted sets in venues including bars, offices and health clubs.
iSpot said it acquired the Tel Aviv-based company, which previously raised $16 million, for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock. It is the third acquisition in 14 months for iSpot, described by NBCUniversal as a leader in the race to be an alternative to Nielsen for providing cross-platform measurement.
“Our vision is really being able to measure TV no matter how it’s delivered, no matter what screen it’s on, no matter what channel and this really completes the picture for us,” said Sean Muller, CEO of iSpot told Broadcasting+Cable.
iSpot has been working with Tunity on its work measuring NBCU programming, including the Super Bowl and the Olympics.
According to Paul Lindstrom, a former Nielsen research executive now head of research and analytics for Tunity, television hasn’t had good out-of-home viewing data till Tunity came along.
Nielsen measures out-of-home viewing with meters that pick up the audio from TV programming. Lindstrom said Nielsen’s meters can’t register viewing if set are on mute or if there is a lot of ambient noise, as is often the case in crowded locations. Nielsen has deployed meters in only 44 markets and much of the viewing its meters do pick up is actually guest viewing by people in other people’s homes,” he said.
“Audio is a fundamentally flawed method for doing out of home,” Lindstrom said.
With Tunity, people have chosen to listen to the audio for channels they want to watch. To tune in, they use their smartphone to take a video of the TV screen they’re watching. The app can use that video and location data from the device to verify where the viewing is taking place. It also picks up commercials that are both watched and listened to.
Lindstrom said that viewing patterns on Tunity show peaks during key moments in sports programming or event shows. The patterns are consistent enough that Lindstrom said it is possible to forecast Nielsen in-home ratings based on Tunity’s out-of-home metrics.
“There’s no reason to think than people who have the Tunity app are going to choose to view differently than other people,” he said. It’s a very good and representative group.”
Lindstrom added that Tunity has picked up viewing from inside the White House.
Muller said that iSpot will be investing to increase the number of Tunity app users to more than its current 2 million viewers. The app is free to use, and the company generates revenue by selling its data and analytics.
“We’re going to invest in integrating their analytics into our products,” he said. The Tunity backend has already been integrated into the iSpot infrastructure.. By third-quarter it will be included in iSpot’s measurement, currency and attribution products.
Muller said iSpot is already close to doing its first deal with a network for out-of-home measurement.
iSpot will be adding Tunity’s 10 employees and its Tel Aviv location will become iSpot’s first international office.
Lindstrom will become VP of research and analytics for iSpot. Initially he will focus on out-of-home, but “he’s going to contribute pretty broadly to the company,” Muller said.
“We’re going to be investing in this capability. We think it is a really good one and the industry needs it,” he said. ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.