HBO Go is now becoming a powerful tool for Time Warner to both hold onto existing customers and attract new ones. Even Roku announced they’d be offering an HBO Go Channel. Comcast’s Xfinity offers streaming content and Turner even recently launched a huge ad campaign to “educate viewers,” about Turner Entertainment’s offerings for TNT and TBS, according to President of Tuner Entertainment Steve Koonin. The MSOs and the content providers that are tied into contracts with them (like HBO) seem to be gaining traction into holding onto their billion dollar business.
How have they been able to do this? By forcing consumers to authenticate online with a username and password that the MSOs will only give out if you’re a paying subscriber. Synacor’s single-sign on TV Everywhere technology has been allowing the MSOs and content providers to offer content on more devices. Whether authenticating via an MSO or in some future TV-utopia where you don’t need a cable contract to access TV Everywhere, Synacor’s technology (which reaches 25 million high-speed Internet subscribers worldwide) seems to be easing the minds of the execs who own the content and pushing it everywhere (they work with HBO, Turner’s six channels, EPIX and authenticate on Roku’s).
Lost Remote spoke with Jim Brandt, Synacor’s Director of Director, TV/Video/Convergence.
Lost Remote: What does Synacor prodvide?
Jim Brandt: We’re an IT services provider for ITV and cable providers. We power the pages that users see and log in to. We provide various other types of premium services, including virus protection.
LR: What was the first big project you worked on for TV Everywhere?
JB: For the last Winter Olympics we put up authentication for 14 different cable providers.
LR: Why is the authentication process important?
JB: Online is a huge way [for providers] to extent their reach and authentication bridges that gap. You have a huge group of people paying, let’s figure a way to verify that and give them a way to do that. The other part we provide, the nature of that federation, the SAML [Secure Assertion Markup Language] technology that allows you to pass credentials.
LR: How do you prevent multiple users from logging in?
JB: There’s a balance between security and ease of use. Some of the techniques are various kinds of limits on the account. Stream limits – you can have a couple of people from a household, but when you get over 5 current streams.
LR: What challenges are faced with providers want to use social tools?
JB: One of the challenges TV Everywhere has with social media, there are so many cable providers. If I find a cool link, you may not have the same provider. A challenge is smoothing over that sharing, even though your provider’s different. With commenting, they generally have been a little bit hesitant, so there’s nothing objectionable, to keep things family friendly.
LR: How will Synacor evolve as a business?
JB: As long as we stay up-to-date and current on ways people can enjoy content, there will always be premium content to put behind payment mechanism, whatever the form of account you have.