Social TV Startup Bluefin Labs Raises $12M in New Funding

Company analyzes TV viewers' real-time reactions to shows

Social TV is coming of age. In an announcement today, Cambridge, Mass.-based social TV analytics startup Bluefin Labs said it had raised $12 million in series B financing.

The new funding, which is double the amount raised in its series A round (according to CrunchBase), was led by Time Warner Investments, with participation from new investor SoftBank Capital and existing investors Redpoint Ventures and Lerer Ventures. All told, the company has raised about $8 million since launching in 2008.

As more TV watchers share their real-time reactions via social media, Bluefin Labs’ technology listens and analyzes the commentary to provide marketers, agencies and television networks with insights that can inform the buying and selling of TV programming. The company’s clients include networks, such as CBS, Discovery Communications and Fox, as well as agencies and brands, such as WPP’s Mediacom, Starcom MediaVest Group, Mars and PepsiCo.

Bluefin Labs will use the new financing to grow sales and client services and invest in technology and R&D, the company said.

“We are witnessing a huge shift in consumer behavior, as people now naturally turn to social media to voice their opinions about what they are watching on television. Our technology allows us to therefore provide deep insights into consumer mind-sets,” Deb Roy, Bluefin Labs’ co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We are continuing to build out Bluefin’s services to provide enhanced data which enables our clients to glean more of an understanding of their audiences and target consumers.”

The company introduced its analytics service with a private pilot program in May 2011 and then launched its primary analytics product, Bluefin Signals, in July 2011. Bluefin Labs said it provides data and analysis for more than 346,000 individual TV telecast airings across all television dayparts and genres.

Rachel Lam, senior vice president and group managing director of Time Warner Investments, who will join the board of directors, said in a statement, "There are meaningful implications for the television and advertising industries as companies learn to leverage social media and big data for competitive advantage. We are looking forward to scaling this service further and continuing the transformation of how the industry understands consumer engagement with shows, brands and commercials on TV."