TiVo swipes Gracenote out of Dish, hints of more to come

The news that Dish Network has completed the transition of its meta data services from Gracenote to TiVo this week is the first evidence we have seen of an operator switching off Gracenote since the company was taken over by Nielsen late last year. The implication is that TiVo is approaching customers and saying, “do you really want all of your data being handled by an old dog like Nielsen, when we have all the new tricks?”

TiVo has replaced Gracenote as the supplier of program information and image-based content for Dish Network’s linear TV services. Dish’s Sling Media has also integrated the TiVo Conversation service and last year signed a ten-year patent renewal license with old Rovi for its natural language platform – which powers Conversation alongside its Knowledge Graph Engine.

We expect TiVo to snag more deals at Dish for its technologies and patents in the future, particularly in its OTT video operations and possibly with a heavier hand in voice search functionality – where the company is increasingly seen as a leader.

The TV movie metadata and music tracking business Gracenote used to be much larger than the old Rovi, finding fame through the Tribune Media Services element, which specializes in collecting metadata from US TV programs. The traditional Gracenote side came from music fingerprinting, so it is the TMS aspect which we suspect fits more into Nielsen’s plans.

Gracenote might still argue that it is dominant in providing metadata to the world’s search and recommendation engines, but TiVo has a decent claim to that title too, if not right now then certainly in the future there is the potential for TiVo to overtake Gracenote in this field. We believe Gracenote is still stronger in the US today, with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, plus Apple iTunes and Amazon Music, on its customer list, although the TMS ID is almost universally used.

The deployment means TiVo can continue to brag about having 9 out of the top 10 pay TV operators in the US. The only missing name is Comcast, a signature it looks more likely to secure following the approval of an initial ITC determination back in May stating that Comcast and its suppliers, Arris and Technicolor, infringe TiVo’s patents – potentially leading to a new patents license.

Interestingly, at CES earlier this year Gracenote told Faultline Online Reporter about a switch out in the opposite direction at Comcast – an 18-month project to replace TiVo’s metadata system on the X1 platform, rolling out to some 22 million set tops. That seems an awfully long time, especially as TiVo then confirmed to us that it could switch out a Gracenote system in far less than that time frame.

So Gracenote metadata does power Xfinity and one of its final forays before being bought by Nielsen was to expand into data for live sports programming when it snapped up Dutch Infostrada Sports and Halifax-based SportsDirect for $54 million in May 2015. This will have certainly piqued Nielsen’s interest, to extend the combination of metadata and audience measurement to the lucrative area of live sports.

Nielsen completed its $560 million acquisition of Gracenote from Tribune Media in February 2017. Gracenote has kept its name and operates inside Nielsen’s Watch segment, with Nielsen employees now making up most of Gracenote’s executive team.

On the advertising side, Dish’s Sling TV was one of the first to take advantage of Adobe’s new Advertising Cloud platform, enabling its marketer customers to bid on Sling TV’s premium ad inventory, in both linear TV and on-demand formats. The basis of this technology comes from TubeMogul, the programmatic technology vendor Adobe recently bought, combining its demand side ad platform with the Adobe Marketing Cloud to provide customers with an end to end independent advertising and data analytics platform across multiple formats.

The new TiVo holds some genuinely valuable intellectual property and has been using these assets to successfully get signatures on patent license agreements over the years. DirecTV might be its next number one target.

Dish VP of product management Niraj Desai said, “Through our long-standing collaboration with TiVo, we were able to integrate its enhanced metadata offerings and provide a cohesive and seamless entertainment experience across our product platform.”

TiVo VP and GM Roz Ho said, “With our industry-leading metadata catalog and innovative discovery solutions, TiVo is helping companies like Dish power the ultimate entertainment experience.”