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.
ISPs NetZero and Juno, both part of United Online, will deploy Synacor’s web portal, which includes syndicated content including “Don’t Miss” an original video program covering TV shows, the companies announced this morning. The portal also includes joint monetization opportunities. The portal uses responsive design for optimization across desktop and mobile devices. NetZero and Juno maintain over 1 million active accounts across broadband, mobile broadband and high speed dial-up.
Synacor, which provides TV Everywhere and portal solutions to small-and-medium sized pay-TV operators, has partnered with thePlatform to integrate the latter's mpx video management system. Himesh Bhise, Synacor's CEO, told me that the deal furthers the company's goal to be a white label provider of end-to-end managed video solutions, supporting customers who are increasingly exploring a range of new services and business models.
In the session "Is TV Everywhere Finally Breaking Through?" at the recent VideoSchmooze, industry executives discussed an important long-term objective for the pay-TV industry: turning TV Everywhere into TV, Everywhere. The insertion of that little comma would convert a key industry initiative into a practical, compelling and ubiquitous consumer experience.
For device-happy consumers, what's not to love about the idea of being able to watch all kinds of TV programming (sports, news entertainment, etc.) in any format (live, linear or on-demand), inside or outside their homes whenever they want?
But getting to that eventual goal involves resolving a lot of sticky business and technical challenges. In the wide-ranging panel discussion, our participants Michael Bishara (Synacor), John Harran (Turner), Marty Roberts (thePlatform), John Woods (Mediacom) and Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia and moderator) did a great job of sorting through all of the issues and articulating the opportunities.
For anyone interested in TV Everywhere, it's a highly informative 47 minutes. The video is below.
TV Everywhere "auto-authentication," which quickly clears pay-TV subscribers to view cable programming on their devices without having to hunt around for their login credentials, is poised to gain further ground based on a new release announced by Synacor yesterday.
The company announced a white label auto-authentication solution for both in-home TVE usage and out of home with its social login using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (social login was introduced last year, but the auto-authentication part is new). Both are under Synacor's Cloud ID offering and will be available in Q1 '14. The company believes this is the first such combined solution in the market.
The process of authenticating users for TV Everywhere content access is improving yet again, as Synacor announced this morning that users will be able to log in via their Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. The use of social IDs has become widely deployed by web services providers, but had not yet been made available in the TV Everywhere world. With the feature, users will be able to tie their pay-TV accounts to their social media accounts which means they'll no longer have to remember pay-TV specific login credentials to gain access to TV Everywhere content. This will reduce friction and should drive higher TV Everywhere adoption.
Overshadowed this week with the launch of HBO Go is that Synacor has been powering access to the subscriber-only portion of NBC's Olympics video for 14 of its cable operator customers, reaching 9 million subscribers. As Synacor's CEO Ron Frankel told me earlier this week, this is the most extensive TV Everywhere authenticated access instance to date, though it is really just a continuation of the kinds of services Synacor has been offering for years.
Synacor has flown somewhat below the radar as it has steadily built out its content offerings, with deals with 60 different providers now in place (e.g. MLB, NHL, MTV, etc.). Synacor offers a portal to its customers which provides its cable operator customers with single sign-on access via pre-integrated billing and user ID management. This is the same way that TV Everywhere is intended to work as it rolls out. Given its experience, Synacor looks like it will be a key player in making TV Everywhere happen in 2010.
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