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2 May 2019

Synacor talks surviving shifting trends as Verimatrix joins hunt

TV Everywhere from pay TV operators might not be regarded as the trendiest of video technologies today, yet traffic on TVE services continues to grow exponentially in the face of shifting viewing habits, according to portal authentication expert Synacor.

Granted, Synacor has a vested interest in spouting such prophesies, but the vendor also pinpointed a couple of surprise trends, namely that small to medium sized operators are becoming very comfortable with set top alternatives, as voiced by Synacor’s VP of Products John Kavanagh to Faultline Online Reporter this week. We immediately took issue with this apparent contradiction of business booming despite TVE interest among larger operators waning. “Usage shifting is a reality for Synacor,” admitted Kavanagh. “But the hard work has already been done in TVE. Now live sports, particularly football, are seeing huge viewing figures on TVE services. We’re sure you’ve seen the TVE viewing figures for Game of Thrones.”

It was interesting then that the single sign-on specialist (SSO) reached out to us just a few months after Verimatrix, a much more frequent appearance-maker in our coverage, acquired a suite of technologies from Akamai called nTitleMe which puts it straight up against Synacor. Kavanagh shrugged off any immediate threat through the entrance of Verimatrix into the SSO space, even with the additional clout of Inside Secure now behind it.

Of course, the saga of single sign on through pay TV operators’ multiscreen platforms has been going on almost a decade and the essential problem has hardly changed. It is to give subscribers access to all apps to which they are entitled through a single sign-on (SSO) process without having to continually re-enter passwords or undergo other authentication processes. Ideally, users should not have to enter credentials at all if they are coming from personal devices such as smartphones or tablets where security is embedded in the hardware.

At the time of the Verimatrix move into SSO, we highlighted how the goal of universal SSO remains elusive, particularly with the continuing fragmentation of the online video ecosystem which has frustrated efforts from numerous quarters to harmonize the field. Kavanagh expanded on this, referencing the rise of the smart home and how, for example, linking a Dish TV subscriber up to an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device is another can of worms entirely. The difficulty as with any device ecosystem is a lack of standards and Kavanagh admitted a standards push in this field is an unlikely outcome, but that doesn’t stop Syancor participating in standards meetings and such. “We live in a non-standard world and we are seeing ever greater fragmentation,” he noted.

Synacor was eager to update Faultline Online Reporter on goings on in the midst of an announcement lull of sorts, the last being the addition of the Forever Login feature to its flagship Cloud ID authentication portfolio a year ago now. Before readers lose interest faster than a satellite TV subscriber cutting the cord, we should remind readers that Synacor has Charter, Centurylink, Dish, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Shaw, Sling TV, Viasat, and WOW! on its customer list, to name a few.

Such a lucrative list probably means that any new launch from Synacor is not made on a whim and is a direct response to customer demand. So, Forever Login’s primary pull for operators boils down to usage data inside TVE apps, which we are told many service providers simply haven’t been able to access before. Forever Login also allows operators to balance easy subscriber access to TV Everywhere content, with control over the maximum number of concurrent devices allowed, and the length of time before viewers need to log in again. Unfortunately, even after a year in the field, Syancor couldn’t provide any customer case studies concerning the new Forever Login feature.