Vizbee Draws a Crowd

Recent investments in a startup called Vizbee by two major programmers and broadcasters present more proof that extending a link between smartphones and the TV has become a key focus as consumers continue to divide their attention between those screens.

Following Epix’s deployment of Vizbee’s mobile-to-TV casting technology last year, Turner and Tegna have since followed, backed by strategic investments in Vizbee.

Vizbee is focused on crossplatform casting and data. Using its technology, a publisher’s mobile app can auto-detect connected TVs with one tap, and install and launch apps that stream content to the TV, where engagement is generally higher than it is on a smartphone.

Vizbee has also developed DeviceGraph, which helps advertisers promote targeted “tap-to-TV” direct-response campaigns that are capable of supporting interactive ads.

App, Ad-Sales Opportunities
Turner has been tapping Vizbee’s platform for a couple of its apps, while Tegna believes the company’s technology could create more ad inventory for Premion, its expanding local ad network for over-the-top content.

Turner added Vizbee’s technology in its TBS and TNT (pictured) apps during a digital upgrade undertaken in May 2017. That upgrade enables users of those apps to cast content from their mobile phones to connected TVs without the need for a plug-in. Turner said it now allows casting of TBS and TNT programming via Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Samsung smart TVs.

That ease of use “drove greater interest in application downloads,” as Turner also saw a 30% month-over-month gain in the number of “casts” between June and October 2017, accumulating 1.7 million casts during that period.

Epix is also using Vizbee’s technology to power an “Epix Cast” feature introduced last year.

With its OTT-facing Premion product, Tegna’s been focusing on content creation, aggregation and distribution, as well as advertising technology that enables targeting and automation, as well as content discovery.

Tegna sees Vizbee’s technology playing a role in both content discovery as well as some elements tied to its ad-tech platform. Further, Tegna sees Vizbee as a way to seamlessly link the smartphone and the smart TV, a process that has sometimes proved to be a bit elusive.

Generally, Vizbee will help Tegna deepen its relationship with publishers and create more OTT ad inventory for Premion, according to Ed Busby, Tegna’s senior vice president of strategy. Vizbee’s data solution will also create opportunities to implement ad targeting and boost overall performance, he added.

Tegna has started to embed Vizbee’s technology in its publisher apps and is exploring how to possibly use Vizbee in its own mobile apps.

Vizbee was founded in 2014 by Darren Feher (former CEO of Conviva and chief technology officer of NBCUniversal) and Prashanth Pappu (former senior vice president of product marketing, Unicorn Media, and head of products at Conviva).

Vizbee didn’t disclose the amount of those investments nor the amount of its latest round of funding, which also included participating from existing investors Core Capital, Armory Square Ventures, Kinetic Ventures and NEA. An SEC filing on Dec. 27, 2017, from Vizbee shows a total offering amount of $5 million, with $3.59 million of that amount sold at the time of the filing.