Entertainment & Content

Samba TV and Its Big Break at CES

Overview TV data analytics powerhouse Samba TV began as a small startup with big dreams to show what online insights and data can do for TV viewership. At a critical moment for the company, the team secured celebrity investment at CES and only grew from there.

In 2008, the mass adoption of the internet led many to believe that it was the beginning of the end for traditional television. But the founders of Samba TV saw this as an opportunity for a new generation of TV viewership. The group set out to guide the TV industry to grow into the connected digital media space.

Samba TV technology recommends programs to viewers based on their previous choices, and it harnesses TV insights to help marketers and media make audiences more addressable and measurable. The software takes into account millions of factors, including viewing habits, consumption options, audience demographic and more, to connect consumers to the brands and shows that are most likely to appeal to them.

The team exited 2019 surpassing $100 million in annual revenue. It was an achievement 12 years in the making.


The Genesis Story

Looking back at CES 2012 and their first exhibit space, Samba TV co-founder and CEO Ashwin Navin talked about how, even with only a couple of company stickers as the backdrop for their 10-by-10 space, it was a dream come true.

Fewer than 100 innovators exhibited at the inaugural Eureka Park™ that year, and the Samba TV team had chipped in a significant portion of what was left of the $27,000 in the company account to secure a booth and internet lines to demo what they had to offer. In previous years, Navin and his team had only been able to participate in CES as attendees.

Samba TV’s investment in the booth paid off when celebrity investor Mark Cuban — before his Shark Tank days — wandered through the new Eureka Park area and stopped by their booth. After 30 minutes of grilling, Samba TV had secured a $500,000 investment from Cuban.

“Walking in with a balance sheet of $27,000 and walking away with that commitment from him, it was a game changer for us,” Navin said.


Onward and Upward

Samba TV has returned to CES in the following years, graduating to a booth and meeting space at C Space at ARIA and unveiling new products and solutions. At CES 2020, the team unveiled TV Boost, a cross-channel activation solution that merges Samba TV's viewership data with its media inventory so that advertisers can maximize the results from their campaigns.

Partners are now able to identify the audiences who viewed their broadcast campaigns, allowing them to customize strategies to reengage those audiences to drive results.

Looking ahead to the future of television, Navin and the Samba TV team are focused on privacy and how it goes hand in hand with improving data measurement and targeting. With artificial intelligence and machine learning also adding to its data analysis capabilities, audience segmentation and personalization will quickly become more specific and robust.

“We’ve put the consumer at the end of the data consideration, and we need to start putting consumers at the beginning of any conversation that involves data,” Navin said in an interview with Beet.tv.

Samba TV is looking forward to what is to come in the industry, as increased content creation and more  storytelling talent make the TV experience better than ever.

Speaking about the CES journey that got Samba TV to where it is, Navin advised companies, “The best way to leverage CES is to have employees engage on the frontlines, not reading from scripts, but speaking from knowledge and trying to learn from how people are reacting. That experience, you can’t recreate it anywhere else.”

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