Social TV is a space that’s coming together slowly but surely, and synchronizing or checking in is probably one of the most important factors in that evolution — one reason Shazam’s audio-recognition-powered push into the second screen last year was so interesting.
But very close synchronization has remained elusive because live TV streams get delivered through a variety of technologies — cable, IPTV, satellite and so on — and they all have different latencies. In other words, even when people are watching live TV, they aren’t necessarily watching it at precisely the same time.
That’s where a Munich-based startup called wywy (thankfully pronounced ‘why-why’) comes in.
Until Friday Wywy had been in ultra-stealth mode, but now it’s emerged with a bang. Not only has it brought in €2.5 million ($3 million) from Cipio Partners (BuyVIP, Danger Inc) but the deal also sees wywy take over the majority holding of an existing Cipio portfolio company, audio detection experts Idioma.
This is where it gets interesting. Idioma‘s been around for years, offering its broadcast TV monitoring and automated detection services to market research companies such as Nielsen and the GfK Group. Add that to wywy’s interactivity products, and there’s your synchronization. The company is pitching these wares to a variety of potential customers, ranging from broadcasters and set-top box manufacturers to advertisers and, via APIs and SDKs, even other social TV providers.
“We’re extending this media monitoring business into the second screen market so we understand what the user is watching and synchronize that to the second level,” wywy chief Andreas Schroeter told me.
“For a social TV app, we could [provide] automatic check-in. Most rely on manual check-in. A second use-case would be to push content at exactly the right second – for each viewer that is a bit different due to latency issues. Between cable, satellite and IPTV you could have five to thirty seconds’ difference.”
So where could this kind of super-accurate timing come in useful? Imagine TV talent show votes, Schroeter suggested, or even political debates, where viewers could express their approval or disapproval of a candidate as they speak.
And, of course, it has appeal for advertisers too. Here, wywy offers services such as one-click ‘buy’ buttons for ads shown on TV, along with a second screen so those commercials can be (shudder) extended in various ways. The company can even provide push notifications, so a viewer can be urged to buy a certain outfit at the very moment it’s visible on some modelling show.
With Idioma already having been able to monitor 300 channels in the U.S., the newly-fused company is preparing to offering synchronization with 30 European channels in the summer, too.
It’s an impressive package, and the monitoring part of the technology is already proven. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is mostly a behind-the-scenes startup: you might be hearing a lot more about wywy in the future.