TV Recommendation Company, beeTV, Raises $8 Million in Series B Funding

--Investment Is Largest-Ever by Italian VC, Innogest

beeTV, a Milan-based company that offers a platform which it says allows viewers to choose the TV shows they want to watch by presenting them with a "personal content channel" (the platform was unveiled in the US at the DEMOfall 08 conference in San Diego last September--see [itvt] Issue 8.06 Part 2A), announced Wednesday that it has completed a Series B funding round that saw it raise $8 million. The round was led by Innogest, Italy's largest VC firm, and beeTV says it will use the new funding to "become the default entry system for television viewers into their world of TV entertainment," to expand its sales operations, and to increase its penetration in the US and the Far East. "This is the single largest investment our firm has ever made," Innogest CEO, Marco Pinciroli, said in a prepared statement. "This fact alone shows how much we believe in beeTV, with the concept, its management, and its business strategy." Added beeTV chairman, Rodolfo Hecht: "We already knew we had the most innovative product on the market. Now we have the means to push it to the next level. We are proud of being one of the few companies that is able to announce a major VC deal in today's frozen market."

According to beeTV, its platform's personal content channels can be used by IPTV, cable, satellite, and DTT operators, as well as by mobile and broadband TV services (all on a white-label basis), to market and distribute their content in a "personal, push manner." The company offers set-top box (beeSTbox), PC (beeWeb) and mobile (beeMobile) implementations of its core technology (it says that service providers can "integrate all three-screen PCC's or choose a combination that fits their own marketing and distribution needs"). When viewers launch their personal channel, it presents them with a personalized line-up of short clips of TV programs and movies (note: the clips can be presented as a video mosaic that offers various configurations or as a linear stream), from which they can then choose the content that interests them and that they want to watch in full. According to the company, the content line-up of each viewer's personalized channel is determined in real time by a "proprietary contextual matching algorithm" that draws on data derived from previous viewing behavior (i.e. which programs they select or reject; the platform presents viewers with four choices: "Watch," "Later," "Never" and "Record"), a consumer profile, timing sensitivity analysis and the business logic and marketing requirements of the viewer's pay-TV operator. beeTV says that a personal content channel's programming line-up can be drawn from a variety of sources, including broadcast and premium TV, VOD, SVOD, pay-per-view and PVR.