Showtime Analytics, an Irish start-up that provides data analytics products and services to the global cinema industry, has secured funding from a subsidiary of Chinese corporation Alibaba Pictures.

This funding represents Alibaba Pictures’ second ever investment outside China and the first by its subsidiary, Yueke/Finixx.

Showtime provides products and services to cinema owners and film distributors, allowing them to collate, analyse and visualise their operational data in real time to deliver insights that drive improved business performance. The joint venture will see Showtime and Alibaba Pictures’ owned Yueke/Finixx collaborate to develop products specific to the Chinese cinema industry.

The Blackrock-based company was founded in 2014 by Richie Power and Joe Spurling from Greystones, Wicklow and Paul Lynch from Dublin, and has grown to 30 employees in less than two years.

Co-founder Joe Spurling has a life long association with the cinema industry. His family co-own and manage the [email protected] cinema group in Ireland, which once included the Ormonde Cinema in Greystones, opened by his grandfather over 40 years ago. The three founders utilised the [email protected] group and other Irish cinemas to test their technology platform in its pilot phase and has formed the basis for building their products globally.

Alibaba Pictures, valued at $9.6 billion, is a technology-driven, diversified film group that ranges from production investment through to distribution and ticketing. The company serves over 386 million active customers in China through its partner cinema chains. Finixx, acquired by Alibaba Pictures Group in 2015, provides software systems for more than 2,000 theatres.

Earlier this year the company acquired a 30% stake in ‘Mermaid’ Financier Hehe Pictures and minority stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. It has previously invested in major Hollywood blockbusters, including Star Trek Beyond and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

By the end of this year, China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest movie market. The country has now over 7,000 cinema screens and is building approximately 27 new cinema screens per day in 2016.

Speaking at the announcement of the investment, Showtime CEO Richie Power said:

“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.

“In recent years, video-on-demand has stolen a significant march on the cinema industry as the likes of Netflix knows more about its customers and they are using this to their advantage. We want to help cinema owners and film distributors to unlock the potential of their data and help them understand more about the types of films being made, how they’re being made and marketed, and how audiences are responding to them.

“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.”

Li Xiangxiong, General Manager at Yueke/Finixx, said: “Finixx’ first international partnership with Showtime Analytics opens up an exciting new frontier for us. The Chinese movie industry is growing from strength to strength. For this momentum to continue, we must invest in innovative new technologies. 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.”

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