• Interview with Synacor’s CEO, Himesh Bhise

    Synacor is a company that has flown a bit below the radar, but is playing a pivotal, behind-the-scenes role in enabling TV Everywhere and single sign-on across multiple devices, including Apple TV. Synacor’s CEO Himesh Bhise caught me up on the company’s activities and his thoughts on where the TV industry is heading. Following is an edited transcript.

    VideoNuze: Synacor has maintained a relatively low profile, though it plays a very big part in the TV Everywhere log-in process. Explain what you do.
    Himesh Bhise: At Synacor, our mission is to enable our customers to better engage with their consumers.  Our customers use our technology platforms and services to scale their businesses and extend their subscriber relationships.  

    Synacor delivers managed portals, advertising solutions, email and collaboration platforms, end-to-end video solutions and cloud-based identity management. We work with 120 service providers, 1,000 government agencies, 2,500 businesses, and hundreds of web publishers around the world.

    As a company, we have announced our Path to 3/30/300 — targeting annual revenue of $300 million, with adjusted EBITDA of $30 million in 3 years

    Our Cloud ID deployments with operators, programmers, and device manufacturers significantly improve the consumer’s TV Everywhere experience.  Our approach to TV Everywhere authentication is in alignment with industry guidelines.  We helped shape the standards for Home-Based-Authentication through our long-standing participation in the OATC and CTAM.  

    VideoNuze: Talk more about single sign-on. Why is it such a high priority in the industry?

    HB: TV subscribers want to watch more TV, and they try to – on their tablets, computers, connected TVs and other devices.  But all too often users get stuck at the login screen and give up.  The default login experience for accessing TV Everywhere is challenging to the point of abandonment. In fact, we have seen up to 50% of potential TV Everywhere viewers, abandon the process at the login screen. It’s that hard. 

    No player in the industry will be able to afford TV Everywhere abandonment rates that high. The key is cloud-based advanced authentication services that work around proprietary and incompatible processes used by operators, programmers, and device manufacturers to simply give consumers what they want, when they want it, all from one video subscription.

    With single sign-on, users login in once to access content across multiple TV Everywhere websites and mobile apps.  With a simplified login experience, we’ve seen more than an 80% reduction in abandonment rates.

    Gains in TV Everywhere usability and use benefit the entire ecosystem.  Investment firm Needham & Company has calculated that if 5% of all 24-year-olds are persuaded by TV Everywhere not to “cut the cord” and sign up for cable service when they start their own households, that this adds $4.2 billion in subscription revenue every year that these users do not defect.  And, these figures do not include the additional advertising revenue resulting from this increase in viewers and consumption.

    VideoNuze: Explain how Synacor’s integration with Apple TV works and what the user benefits are.

    HB: We are very pleased that the current wave of MVPDs launched by Apple are almost all running on Synacor's Cloud ID Advanced Authentication platform to support single sign on for iOS and TVOS.  It is a testament to the robust and reliable nature of our Synacor-as-a-service platform.  

    Synacor Cloud ID is the industry’s only end-to-end identity platform that simplifies the subscriber login experience anywhere end users access their services, whether in-home on their Wi-Fi network, on a connected TV or on mobile.   Apple SSO users will only have to sign in once on devices to access authenticated TV Everywhere apps. Once a user is signed into one app, any other app on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, from participating providers will automatically log the user into all other supported apps requiring authentication. Today, we can authenticate more than 85 million pay TV households in the U.S. through Cloud ID.

    VideoNuze: Synacor has also been working with skinny bundles like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. What role is the company playing there?

    HB: Content consumption via internet-connected devices, such as Roku, Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast is increasing and the number of direct to consumer OTT services is growing.  

    We are working with Sling TV, Sony PlayStation VUE and others to help them capitalize on these shifting content consumption trends.  Both companies are leveraging our Cloud ID Authentication platform to simplify their log-in experience.  
    VideoNuze: You’re also innovating to help service providers drive new subscriptions through search and recommendations. How does this work?

    HB: A key to effective content search and discovery is transforming massive amounts of data into frictionless access to content, as well as creating new opportunities for consumers to unlock new services.

    We offer five elements to successfully enabling search and discovery:

    1. Metadata management: Compiling vast sources of content into a unified consumer experience
    2, Recommendations: Surfacing content based on past viewing experiences and preferences
    3. Curation: Surface socially trending and editorially curated content
    4. Promotion: Enabling content providers and operators to promote content to subscribers across our digital properties
    5. Purchase: Enabling one-click options for the customer to add the channel directly to their package and begin watching immediately

    VideoNuze: As you look out on the fast-changing video landscape, what are 2-3 big things you’re expecting to see in the short term?


    - A proliferation of new direct-to-consumer video streaming entrants – both subscription-based and advertising-supported.

    - A realization in the industry of the sophistication required in engineering and operating such solutions, and the challenge in driving subscriber acquisition.

    - A renewed focus on streamlining search & discovery across services that will, in turn, be dependent on personalization and identity management.

    VideoNuze: Thanks for your time and good luck.