Media metadata company Gracenote is today launching a new product designed to ensure sports fans never miss the end of a big game on TV.
With DVR Extend, Gracenote is effectively mashing its TV and Sports data together to help predict when games will go into overtime. This product will be offered to cable and satellite TV operators in the U.S., so they can adjust DVR settings and ensure anyone recording the game at home will not miss that crucial match-winning goal or point.
Founded in 1998, Gracenote was initially better known as the platform that automatically recognizes tracks on CDs inserted into a PC drive, which is why the company was formerly called the “Compact Disc Data Base (CDDB). But it has long since expanded into other realms, and has provided data for iTunes Genius, in-car entertainment systems, and more.
Sony acquired Gracenote in 2008 for around $200 million, and it has grown steadily since then, though Sony elected to sell the company to Tribune Media for $170 million almost two years ago.
While music data was Gracenote’s origin, it has long since expanded into the TV and movie realm, covering areas such as TV listings, actors’ biographies, and, as of a few months ago, sports data.
Indeed, Gracenote acquired two sports data firms for $54 million back in May, a deal that signaled a new direction for the California-based company.
“There’s been tremendously positive response from the market to Gracenote Sports,” explained Rich Cusick, general manager of video for Gracenote. “In a fiercely competitive environment, our global customers, including the world’s top cable and satellite operators, consumer electronics manufacturers and automakers, are constantly looking for ways to deliver greater value to their users by improving experiences around compelling content such as live sports. We believe features like DVR Extend are the exact type of innovation that will differentiate them from their competitors and drive deeper engagement and loyalty among their users.”
Depending on where you live in the world, the problem Gracenote is trying to fix may or may not resonate. If you’re in parts of Europe, such as the U.K., digital recorders can already automatically “shift” the recording, should a sports event be delayed or go into added time. In the U.S., it seems, this generally doesn’t happen.
While there is nothing specifically inferior about DVR recorders in the U.S., it all comes down to what data the broadcasters provide during live events. It has to be real-time, and it has to be accurate. Comcast recently announced an upcoming DVR Auto Extend feature for its set-top boxes, so it’s clear there is a growing demand for automation in the recording of live events.
With DVR Extend, Gracenote says it combines “predictive analytics based on live game stats, historical sports data, TV schedules and human editors,” and delivers this to the cable and satellite companies so they can alter schedules accordingly.
While human editors can manually mark a game as “in progress” or “complete” if they’re watching it, the predictive model Gracenote employs is particularly interesting. Tapping machine learning techniques, the company looks at historical statistics and live data to establishes whether a game is likely to run over its scheduled finish. The benefit of this is that cable companies can get a 15-minute heads-up so they’re not rushing actions at the last-minute.
For many sports fans, it’s certainly a long overdue feature. If you consider that some soccer tournament matches, such as the FIFA World Cup, can run for more than an hour after the scheduled finish — once you factor in injury time, extra time, penalty kicks, and all the waiting time in-between — it’s easy to see how key sporting moments could be missed.