Light Reading

Comcast Unit Targets Synacor's Turf

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/29/2012
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thePlatform Inc. , the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned media publishing firm, has teamed up with Empathy Lab LLC to develop a fast way for independent MSOs to build and launch TV Everywhere portals.

Under the partnership, thePlatform will match its mpx publishing system with Empathy Lab's user interface design modules, which amount to TV Everywhere plug-ins for Web browsers. The pitch is to offer a "turnkey" system that can get Tier 2/3 operators up and running with TV Everywhere rapidly and for less money than they can on their own.

According to this blog post from Empathy Lab SVP of Media and Entertainment Jon Molod, the combination will be targeted to MSOs with 10,000 to 500,000 subscribers. thePlatform and Empathy Labs already share some clients, including Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Comcast. Empathy Labs also works with DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), Cogeco Cable Inc. (Toronto: CCA) and Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE) .

The move puts thePlatform squarely in competition with Synacor Inc. , a Buffalo, N.Y.-based company specializing in building TV Everywhere services that pipe video to PCs, tablets and smartphones. Synacor, fresh off an initial public offering, also targets Tier 2/3 service providers, and counts CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) among its larger customers.

Why this matters
For thePlatform, the newly added strategic direction will expose it to a sizable market of independent operators that are just now starting to focus on TV Everywhere services. The new partnership will complement thePlatform's traditional focus on larger MSOs such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Liberty Global and Rogers of Canada.

Although Synacor has helped to fill a technology gap for independent MSOs, the need for economic TV Everywhere platforms has been significant enough to spur the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) , a buying consortium for nearly 1,000 independent pay-TV operators, to start up its own initiative.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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