After raising more than $10 million since being founded in 2007, social TV startup BeeTV is shutting down and putting its assets up for auction, CEO Yaniv Solnik informed us in an email Monday morning. Included in the sale is some patented recommendation engine technology designed to help viewers find new content.
BeeTV might be the most recent big social TV app to hit the dead pool, but it’s unlikely to be the last. Over the previous year or so, at least a half dozen startups have emerged with apps designed to allow users to share what they’re watching with friends and to get recommendations about new content they might like.
BeeTV’s issues speak to the difficulty social TV startups have in getting consumers to download and use their applications. In a crowded segment of the market, app makers have struggled to differentiate their products from the competition. One way to do so is by making the so-called “check in” feature as seamless as possible. And so, app makers like GetGlue are partnering with operators like DirecTV to link their apps directly to viewers’ set-top boxes.
Unlike some of the more recent social TV startups, BeeTV took a somewhat circuitous route to offering this functionality to consumers: It originally launched way back in 2008 as a way for operators to create personalized recommendations for their subscribers. But it relaunched earlier this year as a consumer-facing iPad app. That’s the opposite route of most of the latest app makers, which have launched to consumers first and have since been striking deals with cable operators and TV networks to partner on promotions designed to increase engagement and live TV tune-in.
Earlier this year, Philo — which competed with GetGlue and others — was acquired by LocalResponse. Consolidation is likely to continue as social TV apps get weeded out. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on this space to see how the social check-in and recommendation apps evolve to get and keep users’ attention.