Peel is rolling out its social programming guide in 21 European and Asian countries this week, allowing users of select Samsung Android tablets to find TV shows they want and change the channel with the device’s integrated IR blaster. Samsung is preloading the Peel app onto its Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets, with plans to roll out TV guides in more than 50 countries by early 2013. The Mountain View-based startup hopes that the partnership with Samsung will lead to millions of additional users over the holiday season.
Peel’s programming guide has been available in North America ever since the company launched with its own IR blaster accessory last year. It also has been providing basic remote control capabilities to users of Samsung’s devices in a range of countries for some time, but the company’s VP of Marketing Scott Ellis told me this week that it took some effort to provide all of those users in countries like Malaysia, Portugal and Luxembourg with actual TV guides to tell them what’s on at any given time. “This requires relationships with a patchwork of metadata providers,” he said, adding that Peel is now providing guide data for 20,000 channels in Europe alone.
Peel’s new app with TV guide data will be available in 17 European countries, including heavyweights like Germany, the U.K. and France, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Initially, it will be limited to Android tablets from Samsung, but Ellis said that he wants to have the same functionality available on other Android devices as well as other platforms as well soon.
Peel is competing in a crowded space of social TV guides and companion apps, which includes newcomers like NextGuide as well as established players like the more check-in focused GetGlue, which recently got acquired by Viggle. However, Ellis told me that he doesn’t see that much overlap between apps like GetGlue and Peel, in part because of Peel’s strong focus on remote control capabilities. In the end, changing the channel matters more to users than checking into a show, he said. “The core proposition of social TV is secondary to the user,” he said, adding: “For us, control is a key part of the experience.”
Ellis didn’t want to tell me how many active users Peel currently has, only stating that it is north of three million, and that he expects to add millions more as people buy Samsung devices this holiday season. Publicly available data from Google Play suggests that there are between one and five million installs of the Galaxy Tab version of the Peel app alone. Peel is also available on iOS as well as through a standalone Android app. The company currently employs 25 people, and raised a $16.7M Series B from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and others in 2011.