TV broadcaster Sinclair launches STIRR, a free streaming service with local news and sports

Local TV broadcasting company Sinclair Broadcast Group today announced the launch of a new streaming service called STIRR that aims to bring local TV news and other content to the growing number of cord cutters across the U.S. The company today owns over 190 TV stations, which it’s leveraging in order to create its own “skinny bundle.” However, unlike TV streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or YouTube TV, for example – STIRR will be free and ad-supported instead of a paid subscription.

The service will offer access to national news, sports, entertainment and digital-first channels and a video-on-demand library in addition to its local content, which serves as the anchor for the new service.

In a special channel called STIRR CITY (yes, all caps), the service will stream a curated, 24/7 program lineup based on where the viewer lives. This will include local news, local and regional sports, entertainment and city-focused lifestyle programming from the local Sinclair TV station in that city.

STIRR CITY joins other original channels developed for the service, including STIRR Movies (for some reason, no caps), STIRR Sports, and STIRR Life.

STIRR Sports and Life will offer locally focused programs, we’re told. For example, the Sports channel may show high school football, and the Life channel might show a local lifestyle show like “Seattle Refined.” When local content isn’t available, the channels will be fleshed out with content aggregated from other networks on STIRR.

STIRR Movies will also be aggregated content, but the company is exploring additional deals, we’re told.

At launch, there are over 20 national networks and digital-first stations available, but few are notable.

The list includes: BUZZR, Charge, Cheddar, Comet, CONtv, Dove Channel, DUST, FailArmy, Futurism, Gravitas, Mobcrush, MovieMix, NASA TV, Outdoor America, The Pet Collective, SOAR, Stadium, TBD, The T, and World Poker Tour.

The company says it plans to grow its selection to over 50 networks by the end of 2019.

It’s clear, however, that the network selection won’t be the draw here – it’s the local content.

Today, it’s still fairly difficult for cord cutters to access local programming. While consumers can use a digital antenna to capture over-the-air TV signals for free, it requires the installation of a not-very-aesthetically-pleasing antenna. (At least Amazon’s Fire TV Recast gives you the option of hiding the antenna in a back room so as not to junk up your entertainment center.)

But even with an antenna, signals can be hit-or-miss – some areas have poor reception, or are too far from the signal’s source for a good experience.

And while the new crop of live TV streaming services provide another means of accessing local channels, they are not free.

Plus, the live TV services include cloud DVRs which subscribers use to record programs then skip the ads. STIRR doesn’t have a recording option, which may make it attractive to advertisers.

“Despite the explosive growth of new national over-the-top (OTT) services, local TV station’s programming, especially local news, has remained some of the most popular and desired content to audiences and advertisers alike,” said Adam Ware, STIRR’s General Manager, in a statement. “By creating the STIRR CITY channel format, local TV stations can now extend their programming strength to OTT,” he added.

Ware also points out that STIRR will give advertisers a way to reach a different demographic who is no longer watching traditional TV.

“Local broadcast traditional skews older. Streaming skews younger,” he tells TechCrunch. “This brings the two together for the first time,” he says.

STIRR’s ad sales will be coordinated between Sinclair Digital, OTT Compulse and Sinclair’s local stations. And its ad revenue is shared with content partners. (The company hasn’t ruled out a premium version that eliminates ads, we understand, but has nothing like that at launch.)

Also of note, you don’t have to live in a particular city to tune into its local programming via STIRR. That’s good, too, because STIRR doesn’t have a presence in all major metros. But it will suggest your closest markets when you load the app.

One caveat about STIRR: while local programming is available, STIRR won’t stream the primetime shows that these networks carry – you’ll still need your antenna or a paid streaming service for that. (Or, if you’re like a growing number of TV viewers, you don’t watch much network TV these days, in favor of streaming shows on Netflix and Amazon.)

In time, STIRR’s selection of content could be enhanced by more regional sports channels, as it’s a top bidder for those being sold by Disney and Fox. That could make the service more compelling.

STIRR is available for free on the web, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku.

*We’ve run into some launch bugs when testing STIRR, and have gotten page load errors when trying to access the Channel Guide. Hopefully these will smooth out in time as traffic stabilizes.

 

 

 

 

Tablo’s new DVR for cord cutters skips the commercials for you

Nuvyyo, the makers of the Tablo OTA DVR aimed at cord cutters who want to watch and record live TV, just gave their DVR a big upgrade. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company launched a redesigned DVR called the Tablo Quad, a four-tuner DVR that now offers the option for an internal SATA drive instead of only external USB drives. But the more exciting news is Tablo’s new ability to automatically skip the commercials when you play back a recording. There’s not even a button to press – the software does it for you.

The commercial-skipping feature is still in beta, and the company won’t get into its secret sauce too much here. We understand, however, that Tablo is licensing the technology from a partner, as opposed to using something it built itself in-house.

According to the company, it’s not using human labor to mark where shows end and commercials begin. Instead, the tech is described as a “cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing algorithms and machine learning.”

To work, the shows are uploaded to the cloud, where the commercials are marked on the recording.

It’s able to figure out which portions of a program are commercials because of how they’re filmed – with quick cuts, for example. That’s why it works well on a show like “Big Bang Theory” but doesn’t work too well on your local news.

Still, the feature is notable because it’s automatic – you don’t have to worry with fast-forwarding or even pressing a commercial skip button, as on TiVo. It also works across all timeslots and shows, for the most part – not only those airing during primetime.

When the commercials are detected, Tablo will skip past them in the Tablo apps for Roku, Fire TV, Android TV and Apple TV, the company says.

However, the feature is only available to Tablo customers who pay for a subscription for their Tablo OTA DVR – including the Quad as well as older devices.

The Tablo Quad, like other Tablo DVRs, offers an option guide data subscription service, which provides the episode and series synopsis, cover art, and metadata for programs airing over the next two weeks. It also includes access to advanced DVR features like one-touch recording and out-of-home streaming through Tablo Connect, as well the new commercial-skipping feature.

The subscription is $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year, depending on how you choose to pay. You can also opt for a one-time payment of $149.99 for lifetime service.

Tablo QUAD will be available in late Q1 2019 at an MSRP of $199.99.

The commercial-skipping open beta will launch in March for any subscription-enabled Tablo OTA DVR.

Apple is bringing iTunes content to Samsung’s Smart TVs

Ahead of Apple’s plans to introduce its own streaming service this year, the company has partnered with Samsung to allow iTunes content to be accessible on Samsung Smart TVs. Samsung announced this morning that it will offer access to iTunes Movies and TV shows through a new “iTunes Movies and TV” app on its Smart TVs across 100 countries, and it will offer AirPlay 2 support on its Smart TVs in 190 countries worldwide.

Samsung is the first TV maker to have direct access to iTunes content though this new “iTunes Movies and TV” app, but this is not the first time that iTunes content has been accessible outside of Apple’s own ecosystem.

iTunes content is already accessible today through the third-party Movies Anywhere application, alongside purchases from Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Vudu, and others. That app currently works on a number of streaming media devices, like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and others, but not yet on Samsung Smart TVs. In addition, Apple Music can today be streamed on Android devices and iTunes is available on Windows PCs. 

According to Samsung, Apple’s new “iTunes Movies and TV Shows” app will allow Samsung Smart TV owners to browse their existing iTunes library and the iTunes store, where they can purchase and rent hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including a large selection of 4K HDR titles. The movies and TV shows will also work with Samsung Smart TV features, like the Universal Guide, the new Bixby, and Search.

Meanwhile, Samsung is making AirPlay 2 support available on a range of Smart TVs, including QLED 4K and 8K TVs, The Frame and Serif lifestyle TVs, as well as other Samsung UHD and HD models. This will allow TV owners to play videos, photos, music, podcasts, and more on their TV.

“We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home,” said Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, in a statement about the launch.

Given Apple’s plans to launch its own streaming service in 2019 – presumably through its existing iTunes app – it makes sense that Apple would make that app available on more devices in the living room, where it doesn’t have as much of a presence thanks to Apple TV’s small footprint.

The new app and AirPlay 2 will be offered on 2019 Samsung Smart TV models this spring. Samsung says. 2018 Samsung Smart TVs will receive a firmware update to enable access.

 

 

Nielsen: the second screen is booming as 45% often or always use devices while watching TV

Americans are regularly checking a second screen while watching TV, according to a new report from Nielsen which examined the media consumption habits of U.S. adults in the second quarter of 2018. Today, 28 percent of adults say they “sometimes” use a digital device, like a phone or tablet, when watching TV. A much larger 45 percent report they use a second screen “very often” or “always.”

The figures go to show how addicted U.S. consumers are to their smartphones – we don’t even put them down when tuning in to a favorite show or to watch a movie.

In fact, very few people – only 12 percent – reported they “never” use another device while watching TV.

Of course, there are other reasons why some people want to actively use their smartphone while watching television, beyond the need to scroll through Instagram during the commercial breaks.

Sometimes, people may want to actively engage with other fans or participate in an online conversation if they’re watching a TV program or other event live. For instance, they may want to tweet out their support for their team during a football game, or may want to react in real-time to a shocking turn of events on “Game of Thrones.”

Nielsen’s report noted this, as well. It said digital devices have actually impacted how we consume and interact with media today. That is, we’re using the second screen to augment the overall TV viewing experience, not detract from it.

In fact, most of the activities that take place on our devices while watching TV are related to the content.

For example, 71 percent said they use their device to look up something related to the TV content, while 41 percent said they text, email or message someone about the content. 35 percent said they shop for a product or service being advertised and 28 percent write or read social media posts about the content they’re viewing.

15 percent even use the device to direct them to a new program – meaning, they’ve tuned to different content after seeing something posted online.

Digital devices aren’t the only ways people simultaneous consume media. Surprisingly, a small handful of people listen to audio while watching TV, the report also found.

But this is a much smaller group, for obvious reasons – it can be difficult to process two different sources of information at the same time. Still, 6 percent said they often watch and listen to different content simultaneously – which is arguably an impressive, if very odd, skill to possess. But over half said they would never use TV and audio at the same time.

The report also looked at how people consume media – which hasn’t changed as much as you would think, despite the increased use of digital devices.

Instead, “prime time” is still a popular time of time for watching TV, including live and time-shifted programming as well as TV-connected devices like media players and game consoles.

In Q2 2018, U.S. adults spent 38 out of a possible 60 minutes on media consumption from 9 PM to 10 PM, including live and time-shifted TV, TV-connected devices, radio and digital devices (computer, smartphone, tablet).

9 PM was also the peak TV hour, with over half of consumers watching linear TV or interacting with TV connected devices like game consoles or streaming content through Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Fire TV.

 

 

Netflix tops other streamers with most Golden Globes nods, but Amazon beats it on TV

Netflix is having another good year when it comes to racking up the Golden Globe nominations. Last year, Netflix topped the list of the most-nominated networks alongside HBO with 12 nods, even if that didn’t translate to many wins for the streaming service. This time around, Netflix has scored eight nominations for its TV series and another five in the film category.

However, Netflix is not the most-nominated “TV” network. This year, that honor goes to FX Networks, which accumulated 10 nominations for its shows like “Atlanta,” “Pose” and “The Americans.”

FX is followed by HBO and Amazon Prime Video, each with nine nominations apiece.

HBO is usually further ahead because of its top vote-getter “Games of Thrones,” but the show’s hiatus meant it wasn’t eligible to compete this year. So, consider this a glimpse of how HBO will fare in the years ahead, when the “Game of Thrones” final season has wrapped.

Instead, HBO shows like “Barry” and “Sharp Objects” helped HBO score.

While Netflix led all streaming services by earning 13 total nominations across film and television, Amazon Prime Video was ahead on the TV side of things. It grabbed nominations for shows like “Homecoming,” featuring Julia Roberts; popular comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel;” and the limited series “A Very English Scandal,” with Hugh Grant. (Perhaps Hollywood star power still sells on the small screen?)

Netflix, meanwhile received nods for Chuck Lorre’s comedy “The Kominsky Method,” starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, which is up for best comedy series. Netflix’s “Bodyguard” is also up for best drama, and actors from “Glow,” “Ozark” and “Seven Seconds,” were nominated, as well.

Like HBO, Netflix this year was missing the chance to compete with some of its top shows, like “Stranger Things” and “The Crown.” Plus, post-scandal, longtime favorite “House of Cards” didn’t get any nominations for its last season.

Netflix’s eight nominations put it ahead of Hulu, though, which only pulled in two nominations this year — both for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Though Hulu also invests in original content, it does so on a smaller scale than Netflix and Amazon, which in part accounts for its meager showing. (It could also do better with what it greenlights…”The Handmaid’s Tale” is arguably very good, but difficult to watch. And its other shows don’t have as big a following, except perhaps those from Stephen King.)

On the film side of things, Netflix’s Oscar hopeful “Roma” received three nominations, including best foreign language film, best director (Alfonso Cuarón) and best screenplay. The foreign language film “Girl” (Belgium) and “Dumplin'” also helped Netflix earn more shots this year.

(via Engadget, Deadline)

Hulu to top 23 million subscribers by year-end

Hulu will top 23 million subscribers by year-end, according to comments made by Hulu CEO Randy Freer speaking at Business Insider’s Ignition conference this morning. While Freer didn’t state the number outright, he said that the business will have added more subscribers in the second half of 2018 than it did in the first. Based on the numbers we already know, that would put Hulu somewhere in the 23+ to 24 million range by the start of 2019.

Hulu announced at CES in January 2018 its subscriber count had reached 17 million. It then updated that number at this year’s NewFronts presentation to 20 million. If Hulu is on track to add more subscribers in the second half of the year, then it will at least top 23 million.

“I think our numbers will be really impressive,” Freer said. “But, we need to get 30, 40, 50 million homes in a way that we can scale,” he added.

The exec also spoke of the potential for Hulu’s live TV business, offering another hint of how quickly that product was growing by way of a comparison with a competitor – AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

“We think the live TV market is robust,” Freer said. “DirecTV Now announced their number in the third quarter and we grew 10x of where DirecTV Now was. We were growing in October and November. We had our best third quarter, our best October, our best November,” he added.

DirecTV Now had added 49,000 customers in the third quarter. That means Hulu’s Live TV product alone had grown by nearly 500,000 subscribers in the quarter, which would account for a big chunk of Hulu’s overall subscriber growth of 3 million-plus.

The CEO didn’t talk about what’s in store for Hulu with the change in ownership, where Disney is becoming the majority shareholder by way of the 21st Century Fox acquisition. It will take a 60% share, leaving Comcast as a 30% owner and AT&T’s WarnerMedia with 10%. (But the latter is considering selling its stake, AT&T just told investors.)

However, he did offer some hints of what’s on Hulu’s roadmap, including an international expansion.

“We’re exploring all opportunities to expand the geography…we have support from ownership to drive that drive that opportunity,” Freer said.

Freer also noted that Hulu’s ad revenue, thanks its combination of live TV and on-demand, has grown by north of 50 percent over the last year, and is continuing to grow.

“The ads business is really starting to come into its own, and our ability to generate ARPU around ad subs has been terrific,” he said.

He also painted a picture of the flexibility a digital TV service like Hulu offers, suggesting that consumers may one day be able to pay for individual shows on ad-free basis, instead of having to subscribe to an ad-free tier. Or they could toggle on live TV to watch their favorite sports games, then turn it off when they ended – effectively describing a pay-per-view sports product.

“We know sports has a tendency to drive subscriptions…so we will certainly be evaluating sports as an opportunity,” Freer noted.

This ability to personalize your TV is one of the reasons Hulu believes the cable TV era is over, the CEO added.

“The aggregated linear cable network as a business…it had a great 20 year run. I think the next decade – it’s not going to be about aggregated linear TV networks or scheduled networks,” Freer said.

Disney to invest in more original content for Hulu, expand service internationally

In addition to plans to launch its own Netflix rival, Disney+, next year, the company says it also plans to increase investment in its other streaming service, Hulu. Thanks its buyout of 21st Century Fox, Disney now own 60 percent of the TV streaming service, which it gives it “considerable say” in how Hulu is run, noted Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger on this week’s earnings call with investors. He said the plan now is to invest in more original content for Hulu and expand the service internationally.

Disney would also be open to acquiring more of a stake in Hulu, the CEO later said.

Disney sees the value in both Hulu’s IP and talent, particularly on the television and movies side, Iger told investors. And it plans to use the television production capabilities of the now combined company to “fuel Hulu with a lot more original programming,” he added. This, Disney believes, will help make Hulu more competitive in the marketplace.

“Given the success of Hulu so far in terms of subscriber growth and the relative brand strength and other things too like demographics, we think there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu notably on the programming side,” Iger said.

Currently, Hulu has had only a handful of breakout original hits – most notably, the timely dystopian spectacle that was  “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But its originals output has paled in comparison with Netflix, which projected it would spend $8 billion on content this year, with plans to increase that in 2019. Hulu has spent considerably less – around $2.5 billion, per analyst estimates.

With Fox, however, Disney gains access to the Fox studio and FX, and more, which will help it fuel Hulu with more original content. Iger declined to say if that content would be exclusive to Hulu in the future, but did confirm the studios are part of Disney’s plans for Hulu.

Iger also spoke of other changes ahead for Hulu, including possible adjustments to Hulu’s pricing, and its plan to bring Hulu to more international markets.

“After the deal closes and after we have the 60 percent ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content. But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes,” Iger added.

The acquisition is expected to close in 2019.

In a follow-up interview with CNBC, Iger also said that Disney would be interested in acquiring more shares of Hulu, if the opportunity arose.

“It is premature really except to say that if Comcast is interested in divesting, or if Time Warner or AT&T Time Warner is interested in divesting, we certainly would be interested in buying their stake. But with 60%, which is what we will own, we’ll have enough control to manage Hulu in a way that is consistent with – the strategy of the company is deploying,” he said.

CBS launches a streaming entertainment network, ET Live

CBS is today launching another streaming network, this time focused on entertainment news. The service, which is called ET Live, was developed by CBS Interactive and CBS TV’s “Entertainment Tonight” news magazine, and will be available both as a standalone app as well as a part of the CBS streaming app aimed at cord cutters, CBS All Access.

The new service will deliver 24/7 coverage of entertainment news, including breaking news, celebrity interviews, features, behind-the-scenes, red carpet coverage, plus trends stories across celebrity fashion, beauty and lifestyle.

The content isn’t just a rehash of the “Entertainment Tonight” on-air broadcast, the network claims. Instead, it will feature original programming and a roster of new hosts, including Lauren Zima, Denny Directo, Cassie DiLaura, Tanner Thomason, Jason Carter and Melicia Johnson.

The flagship show’s current hosts – Nancy O’Dell, Kevin Frazier, Nischelle Turner and Keltie Knight – will make regular appearances, however, to promote what’s up next and other exclusives.

At launch, the service is available on its own website at ETLive.com and through an ET Live app on iOS, Android, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV, with more platforms expected in the future.

It’s also being integrated into CBS All Access’s live feed across platforms, and as feed within CBSN, the network’s 24/7 streaming news service.

The new streaming network is the latest of several launches aimed at bringing more CBS content to a new generation of viewers who no longer tune in to traditional pay TV.

A few months ago, CBS debuted a portfolio of streaming services under the brand CBS Local. These help deliver local news to cord cutters and other digital media consumers, including its CBS All Access subscribers. It also operates news network CBSN, which it added to CBS All Access last year. And it launched streaming sports news service, CBS Sports HQ, earlier this year. This can now also be found in CBS All Access.

Like CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and your local CBS News (where available), the new ET Live feed is available in the “Live” section of the CBS All Access app. Users can toggle between the various live streams with a tap, then can choose to watch live or jump back to watch previous segments on-demand.

ET’s brand made sense to be the next to transition to reach over-the-top viewers because of its existing reach, including on digital platforms. The TV show has nearly 5 million daily viewers, while the ETonline.com website averages 20 million monthly U.S. uniques, per comScore. Its social audience is even larger, with over 70 million U.S. users monthly, the network says.

“From CBS All Access to CBSN and CBS Sports HQ, we are dedicated to bringing consumers best-in-class streaming services,” said Rob Gelick, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Entertainment Digital for CBS Interactive, in a statement about the launch.

“ET Live is a natural expansion of our strategy and expertise in this area. We have the great advantage of being able to apply key learnings from our leading digital entertainment properties and marry that with the #1 entertainment brand in ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to create a new offering for the next generation of entertainment consumers, those that are platform-agnostic and expect content to be accessible anytime, anywhere,” he said.

TV streaming services see 212% jump in viewing hours over past year

Live-streaming TV services, like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV and others, are gaining steam in the U.S. as more consumers cut the cord with traditional pay TV. According to a new report from Conviva out this morning, these services (called virtual MVPDs) now account for more than three-quarters of all plays and viewing hours in the U.S. That growth has come at the expense of dedicated apps from individual publishers, the report found.

Over the past 12 months, streaming TV services — the virtual MVPDs like Hulu with live TV, Sling TV, or PlayStation Vue — have seen a 292 percent increase in plays and a 212 percent increase in viewing hours, while publisher apps have seen declines of 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively, across those fronts.

The services have also been improving over time. Many suffered from glitches and outages at launch — and this continues today, on occasion. But overall, they’re more stable than in the past.

The report found that across these streaming TV services, there’s been a 22 percent decrease in video start failures, a 7 percent shorter wait time for video to start playing, 25 percent higher picture quality and 63 percent less buffering.

The draw of streaming TV services is a cable TV-like experience with added benefits, like the ability to watch across devices, record shows to a cloud DVR that’s not (in theory) limited by disk space on a set-top box, integration with your smartphone’s notification system for alerts about favorite shows or events and more.

But the ability to tune into live content — like live events and sports — is a major draw for cord cutters, as well.

Year-over-year, live TV content has seen a 49 percent increase in plays and a 54 percent increase in viewing time. The NFL is a huge part of this, with plays up 72 percent and viewing hours up 83 percent in Q3 2018, versus the year-ago quarter.

In the weeks that games were airing, NFL viewership accounted for 3 percent of total plays and 2.8 percent of all viewing hours in the U.S.

Because many viewers tune in at the same time to watch a live broadcast, compared with other content, there’s still room for improvement on this front. The firm also found that live television streams take 10 percent longer for videos to start, and see 72 percent more exits before the video starts, as a result.

The way consumers are watching streaming TV services is changing, too, the study said.

Though one benefit of these newer services is no longer being tied to a TV for viewing, it seems many still prefer it. While mobile viewing continues to grow — it’s up 57 percent year-over-year — it no longer dominates.

Connected TVs — such as those connected to Roku players, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, etc. — now account for as many streaming TV plays (38 percent on TVs) as mobile devices (39 percent). They also account for more than twice the viewing hours, with a 56 percent share to mobile’s 25 percent share.

Viewing on the PC is down by 18 percent, meanwhile.

Conviva, like other reports, has found that Roku leads the market — in this case, in terms of viewing hours. Roku accounted for 40 percent of viewing hours, but Amazon Fire TV gained. Amazon’s connected TV device platform increased its share of viewing hours from 3 percent to 18 percent over the past 12 months, and increase its share of plays from 4 percent to 19 percent.

The report is a snapshot of the industry that comes from Conviva’s global footprint of 50 billion streams per year across 3 billion applications and 200 million users. The company works with brands like Sling TV, HBO, Sky, Turner, Hulu, Discovery, CBS, Canal Digital and others. That gives it deep insight into the streaming TV space to see trends, but not a complete look as not all providers are Conviva customers.

Reelgood acquires Guidebox to bring streaming TV data to more places

Reelgood, a startup aimed at helping cord cutters find shows and movies to watch on the services they subscribe to, has made an acquisition in the hopes of bringing Reelgood’s data to more places. The company has bought Guidebox, a streaming availability data provider which powers Roku, TVGuide, Metacritic and others.

Deal terms weren’t disclosed, but we understand the price was in the “multi millions.”

Guidebox began its life in 2012 as a consumer-facing website that brought together full show and episode data in one place, then pointed you where you could watch – very much like today’s Reelgood, in fact. But over the years, it shifted its focus to working with publishers and device manufacturers. For example, it’s been well known to be the service that powers Roku’s universal search feature.

It was most recently reported that Guidebox was sold to video data and recommendation startup ColorTV. However, Reelgood says that deal never actually happened – the announcement of the acquisition was premature. (ColorTV now appears to be shut down, as it turns out. We’ve attempted to reach them for confirmation.)

Reelgood says it decided to buy Guidebox because it aims to be more than just a guide for streaming TV.

“Imagine asking your Alexa, ‘Which of my shows has a new episode?’ or reading about a show online and, embedded within the article, seeing where you can watch it,” the company explains in its announcement about the deal. “For TV to ‘just work,’ we need to make it easier to get Reelgood’s data onto other products, too.”

The need for better organization of streaming services’ content is more critical than ever in today’s cord cutting era, as consumers increasingly ditch their cable and satellite TV subscriptions to build their own bundles of video services. The average U.S. household now uses four different streaming apps, says Reelgood, and this acquisition will allow it to expand its reach to over 50 million of those households.

The company says it will build on the existing Guidebox technology to make it even easier for companies to help their own users find streaming content. This data will be made available through an API.

That also means that Reelgood isn’t shutting down Guidebox or ending its existing business relationships – it aims to expand them, as well as pursue new business opportunities. It’s currently in the process of renegotiating some of Guidebox’s deals with larger TV and cable media-centric companies which provide service to some of the bigger networks, we understand.

Guidebox had been working with content providers like Lionsgate, the WWE and Fandor, Variety reported last year.

In terms of the Guidebox team, not all are joining long-term. The executive team is on an earn-out plan, and will help to integrate the technology with Reelgood and transition the client relationships. A few employees working on data  integrity and quality assurance have been hired by Reelgood to help as it expands the product and service.

“No one wants to spend time hunting through apps for the right show,” says David Sanderson, Reelgood founder and CEO, in a statement about the deal. “People expect their devices to help them decide what to watch and where to watch it. Whether it’s a search engine, website, streaming media player, or voice assistant, this is an opportunity for companies to get the experience right.”