Watching the Watchers
- Tuesday, May 17, 2011
- By Erica Naone
Bluefin Labs aims to know almost everything about what's on TV, who's watching it, and what they think about it.
Deb Roy stands before what is now a familiar image of a "social graph," representing the ways people are connected to each other through online social networks such as Twitter. But as he stands there, a more complicated graph appears. Roy calls it the "content graph." It represents how pieces of content are connected to each other on TV—for example, which commercial aired with which show, or how viewership of one episode compares with the audience for the next installment. Then he puts in the final piece. A thick network of connections grows between the people and the content. The human eye can't make out any of the complexities at this point; the image looks like an enormous cocoon. But by hunting for important signals in that mass of interconnected information, Roy hopes to find the future of television.
Roy is CEO and founder of a three-year-old startup called Bluefin, an MIT spinoff based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that has never revealed much about its technology and what it can do. But Bluefin has given Technology Review an exclusive early look at how it is trying to glean insights about the way people respond to what's on television. Though it has not yet disclosed its customers, Bluefin hopes to sell its findings to TV networks designing programming and to companies looking to maximize their advertising spending.
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