Media metadata firm Gracenote is today launching what it calls the “world’s largest unified entertainment database,” spanning sports, music, and video. The move comes just a couple of months after the company was acquired by Nielsen.
Founded in 1998, Gracenote rose to prominence as the database company that automatically recognizes tracks on CDs inserted into a PC drive — Gracenote was formerly known as the Compact Disc Data Base (CDDB). But in the intervening years, the company has expanded to provide data for a plethora of third-party services, including iTunes Genius and in-car entertainment systems. Sony acquired Gracenote in 2008 for around $200 million, though Sony sold the company to Tribune Media for $170 million more than two years ago, and it was shifted onto Nielsen in December.
Music data was one of the building blocks of Gracenote back in the 1990s, but the company has long since expanded into TV and movie data — covering such areas as TV listings and actors’ biographies. Two years back, Gracenote expanded into sports with the $54 million acquisition of two data firms. This meant that Gracenote could tap a wealth of statistical data from major sports bodies, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA), and license this data to broadcasters like ESPN.
Given that people are increasingly consuming media across multiple mediums, platforms, and service providers, Gracenote has been working to provide standardized IDs that tie together the disparate media that exists across its databases. An example that Gracenote provides is this: Someone may wish to search for Beyoncé through their TV interface, and — with a unified database — Gracenote’s backend smarts can now surface results from across her music, TV, and movie career. Similarly, a search for a sports star such as LeBron James may unveil career stats, a TV interview with Trevor Noah, or an upcoming basketball game on TV.
Gracenote hasn’t revealed any specific partnerships it has in place that will harness this new unified database. However, its intended use likely extends to products that have yet to be developed — or, as Gracenote puts it, “next-generation cable and satellite platforms, streaming movie and music services, and voice-controlled virtual assistants.”
“The lines that once delineated providers of TV, movies, music, and other forms of digital media are blurring,” explained Rich Cusick, chief product officer at Gracenote. “When we set out three years ago to create the world’s largest entertainment data company, our goal was to deliver a single dataset with persistent IDs to drive entirely new cross-media experiences. These new metadata products represent the biggest evolution in the history of our business and will help our customers dream up and deliver innovative entertainment experiences and establish new business models.”