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Gracenote acquires Baseline. Better video recommendations coming?

Entertainment metadata juggernaut Gracenote acquired Baseline for $50 million on Wednesday, adding to its portfolio descriptions of more than 300,000 movies and TV shows dating back to 1896.

Metadata are details about content such as a work's title, author and date of creation. With more of that information about the who, what, where and when behind movies and television shows, content distributors (think Hulu, iTunes, Comcast and DirecTV) should be able to give consumers better recommendations about what to watch, said John Batter, who became Gracenote’s chief executive on Tuesday.

Batter, who joined Gracenote from streaming movie service M-Go, succeeded Stephen White, who left soon after Tribune Co., now Tribune Media Co., bought Gracenote for $161 million in February. The Baseline acquisition was in the works before Batter was hired, but he endorses it.

M-Go is among the few companies that buy data from both Gracenote and Baseline, Batter said. Sometimes, one service would have descriptions that fit more cleanly on mobile devices or would have stronger images from a film to persuade users to buy it.

“We mixed and matched to create the best customer experiences,” he said. “The more data you have, the more success you’ll have.”

Baseline will remain based in Los Angeles near the intersection of the 10 and 405 freeways. The company was acquired in 2006 for $35 million by New York Times Co., then sold back to founders Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein in 2011.

Baseline employs about 50 people, 40 of whom are in Los Angeles. The staff will add to the hundreds of editors that Emeryville-based Gracenote employs to verify data flowing in from content owners about movies, TV shows and music.

Baseline also brings its 750 clients, including online video streamers Hulu and Vudu and much of Hollywood.

Studios and producers have used Baseline for years to learn about what movies are in the pipeline, how much funding they have and who's working with whom. Gracenote will continue to provide the Studio System subscription service.

"Overall, it's our ambition to be the leading provider of entertainment data on a worldwide basis," Batter said, adding that acquiring data about games, sports and books could be among Gracenote's next forays.

Chat with me on Twitter @peard33

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