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Twitter hooks Bluefin

Twitter has reportedly acquired social TV analytics firm Bluefin Labs, its latest move into the television space after teaming up with Nielsen to create a TV ratings system in December.

According to a Business Insider report, the deal will be Twitter’s largest to date, with the microblogging network expected to pay upwards of US$40m – the price it was rumoured to have paid for TweetDeck in 2011.

Bluefin is among a small number of analytics specialists trying to tap into the value of social TV data, along with the likes of Trendrr and SocialGuide – the latter of which was bought by Nielsen in November.

The firm’s TV Genome system quantifies and organises social media conversations about television and has been used by brands, advertising agencies and TV networks to get insights about TV audiences, ad sales and campaigns that can be used for media planning and buying – a potentially lucrative revenue source for Twitter.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bluefin was set up four years ago by Deb Roy and Michael Fleischman, who developed the technology on which the company is based at MIT Media Lab.

The deal, which has not been confirmed by Twitter or Bluefin, comes on the back of Twitter’s Nielsen tie-up, which is designed to deliver a “syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter.” It will be available on a commercial basis from the start of the fall 2013 TV season.

Twitter has also made a number of hires from the TV space  in recent years, including former Current TV exec Chloe Sladden as director of media partnerships and TV veteran Fred Graver as head of television partnerships. In the UK, former BBC social media exec Dan Biddle became head of broadcast partnerships last summer.

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