Twitter has acquired Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge-based company that analyzes conversation on social media about television shows and advertisements. The deal opens up another potential revenue stream for Twitter, which can sell the research to TV networks and advertisers.
Twitter and Bluefin Labs announced the deal in corporate blog posts on Tuesday, confirming a report in Business Insider on Monday. Many reports have pegged the sale price at between $90 million and $100 million, though a spokeswoman for Bluefin Labs and spokesman or Twitter both declined to comment on the sale price.
Two MIT researchers started Bluefin Labs four years ago and have since raised upwards of $20 million in funding. The company charges brands for research and analysis about how their ads are playing with consumers. For networks, the data helps them understand what viewers are saying about their shows, and which shows spur the most chatter.
As Twitter has added hundreds of millions of users, it has transformed into one of the biggest hubs for conversation about television. Networks, advertisers and entrepreneurs have all rushed in to capitalize on this new opportunity whether by encouraging stars to tweet or building apps to facilitate more social conversation.
Twitter partnered with Nielsen in December to develop a Twitter TV ratings system, and this deal further underscores the growing link between Twitter and television.
"We believe that Bluefin's data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV," Twitter COO Ali Rowghani said in a blog post.
While Twitter has begun to make some money off the growing ecosystem it has helped to create, it can try to use analytics and data to turn the conversation around shows into more revenue. The company, which has yet to go public, needs that to justify ever-increasing valuations.
Twitter will honor existing Bluefin contracts but Rowghani said in the blog post that the company will not try to sign up new partners.