San Francisco-based Flingo today announced a $1 million add-on to its existing $7 million round, bringing the total for its Series A funding to $8 million. The additional investment comes from entrepreneur and TV media mogul Mark Cuban, who was apparently wandering the show floor at CES this year when he came across the Flingo booth, and immediately offered up an investment in the company. The company helps pair broadcast TV content with mobile apps, allowing viewers to interact with their favorite programs.
Flingo is an early leader in connected TV second screen content, using a combination of audio fingerprinting and its own proprietary automatic content recognition system to sync up smartphone and tablet apps with content broadcasted live or pre-recorded on television. Flingo CEO Ashwin Navin told BetaKit in an interview that one of the advantages of being early to this market has been the willingness of partners to deploy Flingo technology. The company’s partners currently include A&E, Fox, Showtime, CBS and more on the content side, and Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sanyo and Insignia, among others on the hardware side.
The funding will help Flingo pursue more partnerships on both sides of the equation, Navin said, but it will also be used to help the company ramp up its efforts around TV data collection.
“Our signal processing tech basically allows us to very rapidly identify shows and objects within shows, and use those algortithms to create metadata for hundreds of broadcast networks in real-time,” he said. “So the capital that we just raised was kind of the fuel that we needed to build out data centers across the country where we’re literally just taking live feeds of broadcasts and cable content and running them through our alogrithms to create this new metadata on a frame-by-frame basis.”
Indexing broadcast TV in this way is something other startups have also begun attempting, including Boxfish, the web-based tool designed by Eoin Dowling and Kevin Burkitt that makes broadcast television content searchable by dialogue, to create “a layer of discovery between television and the internet.” Flingo has a much stronger presence in terms of partnerships among media companies, however, which means it might be better positioned to get both source-level access to broadcaster information in the creation of its metadata, and that it’ll also be better positioned to use the data it gathers in partnership with existing media entities.
Flingo is also hard at work providing connected experiences between first and second-screens, via synced content delivered to mobile devices as shows and broadcast occur on televisions. It has some competitors in that area, too, including Shazam and yap.TV, but Navin thinks that Flingo’s focus on the big-picture issues, like leveraging the untapped big data pool represented by the metadata content his company is hard at work indexing, will keep them on top of this market.
“Viewer input is basically the ‘holy grail’ of programming,” he said. “The whole reality category lives and breathes on feedback from the audience, and that’s what makes their shows more relevant. What we hope is that this new platform gives programmers a one-to-one relationship with their audience for the first time in the television, and increases the velocity of that feedback loop that currently takes place via SMS, Facebook, etc., making it even more frictionless.”
That’s something Navin thinks Flingo will be able to help others like Shazam and yap.TV (which has actually already worked with Flingo in the past) better enable, through partnerships to improve and back up their own existing tech. The backing of Cuban, who joins existing investors Gary Lauder and August Capital, definitely indicates that key players in the television industry think Flingo’s on the right track with its semantic network approach to making better sense of televised content.