Conviva nabs $40M for AI-based video analytics, now valued around $300M

As more video providers finding audiences directly through apps and the web — and away from pay-TV-based packages — we’re seeing the emergence of more analytics to measure how those videos are delivered, and who is watching them. Conviva, a company that has developed a set machine-learning-based algorithms to do just that, today announced that it has raised $40 million from strategic, new and existing investors to continue building out its platform and business. Investors include Australia’s sovereign wealth fund Future Fund, NEA, Foundation Capital, and Time Warner Investments.

The company is not disclosing its valuation, but a source close to the company confirms that it is around $300 million. Conviva has raised $121 million to date.

If you’ve had your eye on the streaming video industry for a while, you’ll know that Conviva is not exactly a spring chicken. The company has been around since 2006 (originally it was called Rinera when it was founded by Hui Zhang and Ion Stoica, alums from Carnegie Mellon), and in its time has danced around different aspects of providing live video services.

These have included tech to help providers offer “virtual living rooms” for their content to view it from different angles, to content delivery network optimization services to help streams look better, to the analytics that they have been developing and commercialising especially in the last few years.

That longevity has given the company an impressive list of customers — some 200 in all — and a large trove of current and historical data from which to build the artificial intelligence that powers the analytics part of its business. The company says that its software sensors are deployed in “2.5 billion devices globally, measuring over 1 billion streaming minutes per day” of premium video content. Active customers include HBO, Sky, Turner, and others.

Its fortunes have also risen as the popularity of “over the top” (that is, via an app or over the web, and not in a pay-TV package) streamed video has grown: Conviva said that it saw 80 percent growth in viewing minutes in 2016 and is on track for that to be over 150 percent in 2017. With OTT video estimated to be worth over $60 billion by 2021, it may well be that analytics has turned out to be Conviva’s sweet spot.

At the least, it’s the aspect of the business that has fuelled this latest round and confidence in the company:

“We have consistently been growing faster than the overall market and have developed a strong, sustainable business model,” says Dr Zhang, who is also Conviva’s CEO, in a statement. “We are excited to close this round of funding so we can accelerate our new product offerings and our global market expansion, extending our technology and market leadership in OTT measurement and analytics.”

While you might assume, by hearing AI and video in the same sentence, that what we have here is a solution that somehow uses computer vision, in fact Conviva relies on the machine learning aspect of that nebulous area of data science. Specifically, it’s a big data play that involves identification, matching, ordering and cleaning video data to figure out when, say, videos are buffering badly, or people are switching off streams in specific markets (to potentially begin to explain why), and in cases where there are advertisements, what is resonating and where, and what form that takes. Conviva says it does all of this in real-time, and plans to expand its platform to cover more analytics.

“NEA has been part of the Conviva team from day one and we are excited to see the company grow and achieve such great success,” Pete Sonsini, General Partner and Head of Enterprise Investing at NEA, in a statement. “As the way people consume content continues to evolve, we believe Conviva will be a foundational element of measurement and analytics for the next generation of TV.”

The company today is mainly active in the US and Europe but plans to expand into Asia Pacific (in keeping with the Aussie investment) and Latin America with this round.