Axel Springer snaps up Berlin social TV startup TunedIn

Nina Fowler 2013-02-26 16

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In a surprise announcement this morning, German media giant Axel Springer has acquired Berlin social TV startup TunedIn.

TunedIn, founded in New York by Justin Scull and Sebastian Bartz in late 2010 and later relocated to Berlin, focuses on the “second screen” aspect of social TV.

The team released an iPhone app last year with a range of functions designed to compliment traditional TV viewing, including a personalised TV guide, the ability to schedule reminders for shows, friends’ recommendations and other content-discovery tools.

In May last year, Scull told us the company was also working on a concept called “tap to clap” that could be used during TV shows such as Deutschland sucht den Superstar to gauge how audiences were responding to performers. At that time, he said, the company was “pretty much bootstrapped” though with a few strategic partnerships in place.

The deal with Axel Springer – which will now hold 75 per cent of TunedIn – is triggering an app relaunch. The old app is not currently available in the iTunes Store and the new one will arrive “shortly”, the company said.

The ability to disrupt the industry?

“The acquisition by Springer was the next logical step,” Bartz said in a statement. ““We’ve collaborated with the publishing house for many months now and have some amazing upcoming developments. Now, we truly have the ability to disrupt the industry.”

The two companies had previously worked together on the social TV guide in TunedIn’s iPhone app.

Today’s news fits into Axel Springer’s wider plans to make the most of new technologies developed in Berlin. The media group is now a major shareholder in startup event Hy! Berlin and is planning an accelerator programme in partnership with Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Centre.

Image credit: Flickr user x ray delta one

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