Direct Line Blog

Does Yahoo need to check in to TV? Kinda, maybe, sure

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Yahoo has snatched up TV check-in service IntoNow for an undisclosed sum, the company said on April 25. The service, similar to song identification app SoundHound, lets consumers tag televised audio content with their mobile phones and tell friends what they're watching via Facebook or Twitter. Yahoo said IntoNow will boost the company's video programming and social media offerings.

I'm having a hard time seeing the value for Yahoo of IntoNow in its current incarnation. The service's data collection potential is definitely intriguing. From the statement announcing the acquisition:

IntoNow has indexed more than five years of US-based TV programming, creating a rich database to build video discovery and programming experiences. IntoNow is able to identify content down to the airing, episode and time within the program, as well as provide program information and links associated with it, all within a matter of seconds.

But from a consumer's perspective, the idea of firing up an app and tagging a TV show to let my buddies know I'm watching Community seems too complicated. If I really want clue people in to what I'm watching, I can just post it to Facebook or Twitter myself with some (hopefully) witty line. Chances are I'm already on checking Facebook or Twitter while watching the show (or, you know, actually watching the show sans cell phone, gasp).

I like the idea of being able to tag shows and cross-reference with Netflix or iTunes, but then I wonder why I'd need to cross-reference if I'm watching the show. I thought of the possibility that maybe I chanced across a movie halfway through and want to load it to my Netflix queue, but do I really need an app for those rare occasions?

Yahoo could use IntoNow to expand its advertising game to TV by launching campaigns similar to the one Pepsi is running with the service. I'm not up on the early results of that campaign, but if my experience with SoundHound or Shazam gives any indication, I have a tough time believing consumers are finding it easy to load the app and tag content within a 30-second time frame.

As for tagging and sharing online video, YouTube already has this sharing tools built in. I can't say I've ever used Yahoo to watch video, but I just popped over to its video vertical and - lo and behold - nearly all the content was pulled from YouTube.

So I have no idea how this acquisition will play out. I don't think it's a terrible idea, and given Yahoo's Q1 earnings, it's probably a necessary one. I would imagine if Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon or Facebook sniffed out the opportunity, they would have snatched up the company. And these days that seems reason enough for an acquisition.

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