GetGlue, a real-time social network for users to talk about television via mobile apps, just announced a $12 million round of funding led by RHO Ventures, with existing investors TimeWarner, RRE Ventures, and Union Square Ventures all participating. The announcement comes after the New York-based company rolled out a slew of updates to its apps, including a stream of updates with embedded media, similar to the evolution of the Foursquare and Twitter apps.
This round is a series D, doubling the company’s total investment to $24 million, according to Crunchbase.
GetGlue lets users “check in” to TV shows, movies and music, partnering with major networks and studios to get audiences talking about their productions. “Users check-in and share what they are watching, listening to and reading with friends; get fresh recommendations, exclusive stickers, discounts and other rewards from their favorite shows and movies,” GetGlue says.
According to a press release, GetGlue hit two million users in 2011 and sits on a database of more than 350 million data points including check-ins, ratings, “saves” and reviews. The top ten shows of 2011 garnered 6,008,737 check-ins, according to GetGlue, and were as follows:
1. The Big Bang Theory
2. True Blood
6. American Horror Story
7. The Walking Dead
8. Doctor Who
10. The Vampire Diaries
GetGlue has shown striking adoption and seems to be the frontrunner of the social TV-watching apps; except for Twitter and Facebook, that is, which still serve as the default place to talk about anything for most of the social networking public. (Foursquare, too, recently made it possible to check into movies.) The startup’s challenge is to make it more comfortable and rewarding to talk about TV on GetGlue than anywhere else. Right now GetGlue seems to be putting a lot of effort toward rewarding users with branded “stickers.”
The startup has also been working to secure discounts at places like the HBO Online Store.
The main challenge for GetGlue, which has had a stellar run securing partnerships with Big Media, is the cold start problem associated with creating an entirely new social network from scratch. The app integrates with other networks, sometimes confusingly; tweets are shown in their own column alongside GetGlue check-ins, and GetGlue offers an API. But the entertainment check-in service’s separation from Facebook and Twitter (read: potential acquirers) results in lower engagement rates, so that many updates on GetGlue remain thoughts floating in a void. “I just love watching people do something they are good at and some of these dancers are just awe-inspiring,” one user commented on “Got to Dance,” to nobody in particular. Betabeat checked into “Nikita,” the no. 3 trending show, and wrote “this ep sux,” hoping to provoke an answer. None came.
“There’s a big opportunity to personalize it and highlight shows you typically watch and what your friends are watching in addition to show trends,” GetGlue public relations manager Claire Gendel wrote in an email. “As people check-in and watch the show there is an opportunity for additional bite size content such as video, images, etc. Since GetGlue already provides conversations on the second screen, additional content is a natural extension to further the user engagement.”