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Time Warner leads funding for second social TV company

Date January 24, 2012

(Reuters) - Media conglomerate Time Warner Inc is leading a $12 million round of funding into a start-up company that analyzes tweets and Facebook posts as people watch their favorite TV programs.

Social TV analytics company Bluefin Labs is also backed in its second round of funding by another new investor, SoftBank Capital, as well as existing backers Redpoint Ventures and Lerer Ventures.

Time Warner, whose networks include Turner, CNN and HBO, has previously backed GetGlue, a social entertainment company that allows U.S. TV viewers to "check-in" when they are watching their favorite shows.

Time Warner investments executive Rachel Lam said the latest investment in Bluefin showed that the company sees engaging and understanding TV viewers as important to its future as more viewers share their opinions and experiences about TV through social media.

"For Time Warner it's pretty important to understand where the social data might take us and how it impacts television programming as well as the advertising," said Lam, who will join Bluefin's board.

Boston-based Bluefin launched its flagship analytics service Bluefin Signals last July for clients to analyze and organize social media conversations about U.S. national television.

The company said clients use the social data about TV shows and commercials to help make buying and selling decisions. Bluefin's clients include TV networks, marketers and agencies including CBS Corp, Discovery Communications Turner Networks, Starcom MediaVest, MediaCom and MTV.

To date it has collected data from more than 11,000 shows and analyzes more than 5 billion pieces of social media commentary every month.

Bluefin Chief Executive Deb Roy said his company will focus on expanding its sales efforts to get the service to more clients who want to better understand the viewers as consumers of programming as well as advertising.

"You can use understanding of social media to better optimize your advertising to consumers," Roy said.

(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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