Blog Post

Snapstream’s TV Trends Charts TV Mentions

Snapstream launched a free, online analytics tool called TV Trends yesterday, which allows users to track the number of times particular words were mentioned on television. Type in up to five words, and TV Trends will scour the major broadcast and cable news networks, then graph the number of times those words were spoken. For example, here’s a chart listing comparative mentions of “Facebook” and “Twitter.”

TV Trends is an off-shoot of the company’s main product, Snapstream server, which is like a DVR on steroids, capable of recording up to 10 channels at once, either at a specific time or 24/7. The software also grabs metadata from programming as well as the closed caption feed, allowing users to search through all the recorded content to pluck out video clips of interest. Rakesh Agrawal, Snapstream’s founder and CEO, says TV Trends is used by shows like E!’s The Soup, and was used by the presidential campaigns last year as they wanted to track mentions of their candidate as well as certain issues.

Realizing that it generates a lot of information, Snapstream began looking at ways to expand its offerings. “What would be a way for us to make this data available in a copyright-friendly way, and do interesting things with it for the general public?” said Agrawal. “Some enterprise customers wanted to graph mentions of their brand.” And thus was the spark for TV Trends.

Snapstream has been recording national stations ABC (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), NBC (s GE), FOX (s NWSA), MSNBC, FOX News, CNN (s TWX) and Headline News 24 hours day for roughly a year. TV Trends filters out non-news related programming such as sit-coms and dramas, but does include entertaining news shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

There are some limitations to the service. TV Trends can’t distinguish between “Apple” computers and a Braeburn apple, or similar commonly named brands. And unfortunately, there isn’t much action that you can take with the results. They don’t click through to the actual video clip, nor does it provide a full transcript of the show that includes the mention. It’s a shortcoming Agrawal is aware of, but doesn’t mind. “We’re not a clipping service,” he said. “I think TV Trends has value in and of itself as a TV service that tells us how TV is covering particular topics.” Online services like 1Cast and RedLasso do let you search TV broadcasts for particular keywords and post clips to your site.

And since we’re on the topic of tracking Twitter and Facebook mentions, here’s a fun clip from The Daily Show that shows just how much the news networks are plugging social media sites.