Comcast buys metadata company Watchwith

Comcast Center's office in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
Comcast has paid an undisclosed sum to acquire San Francisco metadata company Watchwith.

Comcast has quietly acquired longtime partner Watchwith, a San Francisco metadata company.

As first reported by Multichannel News, and confirmed by Comcast, the cable company paid an undisclosed sum for Watchwith and will roll the 15-member company into Comcast Metadata Products and Search Services (CoMPASS). This unit operates the cloud-based metadata, search and recommendation technologies that power various Comcast video systems.

Watchwith specializes in collecting and delivering “frame-level” data for video programming, enabling, say, users of the X1 voice remote to know which actor is appearing in a specific scene, or which location the scene was shot at. This metadata is delivered either through tag inserts in the editing/production process, or by various algorithm and machine-learning techniques. 

Watchwith is already involved with several recent X1 platform software upgrades. For example, its metadata is used in the “auto-extend” feature that automatically adjusts the lengths of DVR recordings of programs—most notably, sporting events—that run past the original recorder timing. Watchwith also enables X1 users to tag and bookmark highlights within sporting events they’re recording. 

With the acquisition, Comcast is now a player in a metadata market dominated by the recently consolidated likes of TiVo and Nielsen-owned Gracenote.

“We think the magic of the potential of deep metadata is to be able to take people directly into the part of the content that they are looking for,” CoMPASS Senior VP Rick Rioboli told Multichannel News. “We think it’s a very strategic space.”