Synacor Sizes Up ‘TV Everywhere’

After building Web portals for Charter Communications Inc. and several mid-sized cable MSOs, Synacor Inc. says it expects to expand into operating “TV Everywhere” services.

“We’re very well set up to address the credentialing and authorization side of the TV Everywhere business, and we already have systems in place to do just that,” says Synacor president and CEO Ron Frankel.

Synacor has some recent experience authenticating which subscribers should get access to subscription content for TV Everywhere distribution. It’s working this month with NBC Universal and 14 cable operators to offer "Olympics Online Connect," a move that authorizes about 9 million subscribers to get access to certain video content on NBCOlympics.com. (See Synacor Helps Cable Web Up Olympics.)

Frankel says Synacor is looking to work with cable operators and programming networks both to power TV Everywhere products that are hosted on an MSO's portal and to authenticate subscribers for broadband video sites operated by the programmers themselves.

“We’re working to expand our relationships with a number of programmers. We haven’t announced anything with that regard, but Olympics Connect is a key first step,” says Frankel.

Founded in 2001, the Buffalo, N.Y.-based firm has focused on building portals for mostly small and mid-sized operators and telephone companies. Charter, Mediacom Communications Corp. , and WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) are among its larger customers. Others on its list of about 30 MSO partners include Armstrong Cable , Blue Ridge Communications, Atlantic Broadband, GVTC Communications, Knology Inc. (Nasdaq: KNOL), Grande Communications , and NewWave Communications.

Synacor’s portal business has given it experience working with the billing systems for cable affiliates -- a key component of TV Everywhere products like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)’s Fancast Xfinity TV service, which relies on determining which consumers should have access to content from various networks based on their cable TV subscriptions.

Frankel says Synacor’s portal business gives it a leg up on other technology vendors that are looking to handle TV Everywhere services for cable operators such as Avail-TVN , Brightcove Inc. , and thePlatform Inc. “None of those companies have integration into the billing systems of the MSO,” he contends. (See Avail-TVN Readies 'TV Everywhere' Platform, ThePlatform Encroaches on Brightcove's Turf , thePlatform Plugs In 'TV Everywhere', and Brightcove Tunes Up for 'TV Everywhere' Pilots.)

Synacor also has relationships with dozens of cable networks that it works with to supply content for the MSO portals -- another factor that could help it grab a piece of the TV Everywhere pie. “We have worked with 60 or more content providers. We’re really set up to do this right now.”

While Frankel appears bullish on the role Synacor will play in TV Everywhere platforms, the company hasn’t yet struck any TV Everywhere deals beyond the services it is providing to 14 affiliates for Olympics Connect. “I think you’ll see over the course of this year some additional announcements coming from us.”

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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