It’s Showtime for Irish cinema analytics start-up after €1.2m Alibaba funding

6 Dec 2016

Outside of Chinese cinema. Image: canghai76/Shutterstock

Showtime Analytics, an Irish analytics start-up for the cinema industry, is getting the red carpet treatment from Chinese giant Alibaba, which has invested €1.2m in the company.

With Netflix and other on-demand streaming companies eating into the profits of cinema theatres, a number of major cinema companies are turning to advanced analytics to stay on top of trends.

Yet one nation that has really yet to experience the full effect of these services on the general public is China, where the number of cinemagoers has turned the country into Hollywood’s golden ticket.

Now, an Irish start-up called Showtime Analytics is about to make a major stride in the country of more than 1bn people, following a deal with Chinese tech giant Alibaba.

Founded in 2014 in Dublin by Richie Power and Joe Spurling, Showtime now has 30 employees. Following this latest €1.2m investment from Alibaba’s subsidiary Yueke/Finixx, it plans to grow its workforce in the new year.

This marks only the second time that an Alibaba company has invested in a company outside of its native China, the first being a minority stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners earlier this year.

Yueke/Finixx is one of China’s top cinema ticketing systems suppliers, serving more than one-third of movie theatres in the country.

Showtime Analytics

From left: and Yueke/Finixx general manager Li Xiangxiong with Showtime Analytics CEO Richie Power at the Yueke Customer Conference in Shenzhen, China. Image: Akai-Cas

The next cinema superpower

To put this into perspective, China has more than 7,000 cinema screens across the country – with 27 being built every day – making it the world’s second largest cinema market behind the US.

Yet by the end of this year, China is finally expected to surpass the US to become the number one market.

“This investment only marks the beginning of Showtime’s global journey. Ultimately, our business is about more than just helping cinemas sell more tickets. Data analysis is in its infancy in the movie industry, but its potential value is huge,” said Power, Showtime’s CEO.

“Alibaba Pictures is a market leader in the Chinese movie industry and understands the needs of cinema-goers and other industry stakeholders. This knowledge, coupled with their investment, will prove invaluable to Showtime, allowing us to build even better products and expand our team in Ireland.”

Yueke/Finixx’s general manager, Li Xiangxiong, also added: “In Showtime, we have found an important strategic partner in the Irish tech industry that shares our passion and ambition for cinema, and we look forward to building on our new relationship in the years ahead.”

Outside of Chinese cinema. Image: canghai76/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic