Metadata firm Rovi announced Tuesday it bought video directory site Sidereel for an undisclosed amount to expand into the realm of consumer-facing web properties. The news was made public in conjunction with the launch of AllRovi.com, a new site that makes Rovi’s media guide available to consumers online.
San Francisco-based Sidereel previously raised $1.5 million in funding. Rovi’s VP of product management Trent Wheeler told me in an email that Sidereel’s exec team will stay on to join Rovi, and that it will “keep SideReel as a separate online site for TV content.” That’s good news for Sidereel, which has been one of the more successful online video guides, recently surpassing one million daily visits. The site has also been investing substantially into original video production, and is currently filming episodes for more than 20 web series per week in-house.
However, industry insiders have sometimes taken issue with the fact that Sidereel also scours unlicensed “pirate” sites for links to streaming content. Sidereel emphasizes legitimate content sources like Hulu and various network sites, but users can oftentimes click through to episodes hosted on sites like Megavideo and Novamov as well. Having these links on a site run by Rovi is particularly ironic, since Rovi’s legacy business includes content protection for major media companies. Wheeler said Rovi hasn’t determined if it has to implement any changes to Sidereel, and that “content on the website will remain the same for the time being.”
Regardless of these issues, the acquisition is an interesting move for Rovi, which has been on a buying spree ever since it changed its name from Macrovision. The company acquired the content recommendation specialist Media Unbound about a year ago, and it spent $720 million on Sonic Solutions in December. Rovi’s core business proposition has been its TotalGuide, an EPG for connected devices. Now it’s bringing that programming guide to the web, directly competing for the eyes and clicks of consumers with AllRovi.com.
To be honest, AllRovi.com isn’t exactly enticing at this point: The site offers information and recommendations for movies and music, but there’s no possibility for interaction, or even media consumption. Consumers can learn that a movie is available on DVD, but there are no links to online streams, and there’s no TV content listed at all. Sidereel could help with both of these issues, and in turn, beef up Rovi’s TV-based EPG offerings, which seems to be the real end game for the company, as Wheeler explained today. “Rovi acquired SideReel because we believe we can integrate its technologies and metadata into our product offering (to help) our customers… find great TV content, regardless as to the platform,” he told me.
Rovi Chief Evangelist Richard Bullwinkle recently told us in an interview that his company is looking to the web to bring services to Google TV and similar browser-based TV platforms:
“We see cloud-based services delivered to browsers on the television as a great enabler of exciting services in the next few years.”
In other words: Rovi wants to use web-based experiences to get its EPG solution on the next generation of connected devices. Having a TV show directory can only help to do so, and a solid user base that’s already accustomed to watching web video on the TV screen doesn’t exactly hurt either.
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