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SyncTV Will Seek Its 'A' Round in 2012

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
12/22/2011
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SyncTV Inc. , a startup that makes TV Everywhere systems for MSOs and programmers, will seek out bigger deals and a bigger bank account in 2012.

The company has secured a "couple of million dollars" in early funding, but will hunt down a formal "A" round sometime next year to help accelerate expansion, says SyncTV CEO Alex Garcia-Tobar. He won't say how much it wants to raise, but notes that the company has received interest from a number of venture capitalists and strategic investors.

SyncTV is pursuing the round about two years after deciding to alter its strategy. After originally trying to develop a Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX)-like, direct-to-consumer streaming service, it changed gears to focus on a white-label platform aimed at helping MSOs and content owners pipe video to multiple devices over the top via broadband.

It's on track to have 15 deployments by the end of 2012. Some notables include NBCUniversal LLC 's PictureBox service, which offers a rotation of movies for £4.99 (US$7.82) per month in the U.K., and Lime, a unit of Cable & Wireless Communications plc (London: CWC) that is kicking off an ambitious OTT service in the Caribbean that will deliver on-demand content as well as more than 150 live channels, starting in Barbados. For the Lime deployment, SyncTV is integrated with Avail-TVN 's AnyView service, which is expected to go fast and hard after Tier 2/3 service providers in 2012. (See C&W Lime Streams TV Everywhere with AnyView.)

The white-label approach pits it against companies such as thePlatform Inc. (a unit of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which is targeting service providers with its Videoscape platform. MobiTV Inc. is also getting into this increasingly crowded market. (See MobiTV Offers TV Everywhere and AlcaLu, thePlatform Take On Cisco's Videoscape .)

SyncTV developed both backend and frontend elements that can be used separately or in unison. On the backend, it handles video encoding and transcoding and the integration of the digital rights management, reporting and billing systems. On the frontend, it builds the apps that an MSO or programmer would use to support access on game consoles, TVs, smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

As its cable strategy goes, SyncTV, which has about 35 employees, will spend most of its efforts targeting small- and mid-sized operators that don't have the resources to develop this sort of thing in-house. But how soon those guys can move is out of its control.

"The challenge is securing the content rights. There's a lot of hurry up and wait," Garcia-Tobar acknowledges. "But once the rights are hammered out, there will be a flood of [TV Everywhere] services out there."

In the meantime, he says there's a ripe market among international programmers in India and Africa that own the rights to content and are looking to enter the U.S. market by going solely over the top.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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