Blog Post

Social TV’s Big Week: Flingo’s $7M Funding Follows Super Bowl

Two days after social TV made a splash at the Super Bowl, yet another new entry in that field, Flingo, announced that it has secured $7 million in series A funding from August Capital.

Best known as the company started by BitTorrent co-founder Ashwin Navin, Flingo develops software for smart TVs from manufacturers including Samsung, Vizio, KG and Sanyo, among others. It’s entering a crowded market, but Flingo is trying to separate itself from the pack by playing up its social TV convenience. The chips are able to recognize thousands of broadcast shows – in other words, the TV tells the user’s second-screen device what’s being watched instead of the user having to input data like hashtags into their phones.

You can admit to your friends that you’re watching Smash with a single click — a convenience, of course, that also appeals to advertisers. “Our new investors share our vision that smart TVs represent a unique way to improve the TV viewing experience and an opportunity to unlock new sources for growth in the $60 billion TV advertising business,” Navin said in a statement.

A small but growing group of other companies – GetGlue, IntoNow, Shazam – are also developing apps that combine the experience of watching live TV with social networking on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While they’ve not diverted any significant portion of their collective $60 billion TV spend to the technology, advertisers are eager to experiment on these second-screen platforms – and that was proven Sunday with brands like Pepsi and Anheuser Busch conducting a number of social TV campaigns during the Super Bowl.

For this advertiser interest to grow into true monetization, GetGlue CEO president and CEO Alex Iskold told paidContent Friday, his company needs to grow its current user base of around 2 million to more than 20 million.

During the important litmus test of the Super Bowl, GetGlue said it’s own data shows it went in the right direction — a record 160,000 users “checked in” to the service, the company claims, up 300 percent from the 20,000 that checked in for the 2011 Super Bowl. (Other interesting data: GetGlue also said that 63 percent of its Super Bowl usage came from mobile phones, while iPad usage was only around 3 percent.)

Meanwhile, working with sponsors including Toyota, Best Buy, Pepsi, Bud Light and Fed Ex during the big game, Shazam reported “record engagement” for its platform, describing usage in the “millions.”

Of course, standard third-party metrics would gauge the level of growth in the social TV sector more effectively.

That data is hard to find, but a small, rather informal study conducted by connected TV marketing company CTV Advertising involving 10 second-screen Super Bowl watchers found that there was “deeper engagement” for advertisements that rewarded social TV users with incentives.

Yahoo’s IntoNow, for example, made those who tagged a Pepsi Max Super Bowl ad eligible for a lifetime supply of the cola beverage.

Notably, however, the CTV study also found that six out of the 10 subjects noted getting flack from their real social connections – i.e. people actually present in the room with them – for being dialed into a mobile device while watching the game.

Four of 10 participants also said the second-screen app distracted them from the commercials unfolding on the primary screen. And seven of 10 said they had trouble getting their apps to work properly.