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25 July 2019

Synamedia’s WarnerMedia APAC deal setting stage for HBO Max?

Synamedia secured a corker of a deal this week with WarnerMedia Asia Pacific, supplying its PowerVu content delivery technology, and it’s hard to read the deployment as anything other than a precursor to powering the new WarnerMedia streaming service to launch next year in the US – itself in anticipation of a major international rollout.

Hot off the press, we were immediately and a little over-optimistically in contact with Synamedia for comment on whether there is scope for winning part of the HBO Max streaming contract and whether we should consider Asia Pacific a trial run. Naturally, the company declined to comment, but in truth the respective US and Asia Pacific WarnerMedia divisions are worlds apart.

While WarnerMedia is building a full-fat direct to consumer streaming service with live sports, news, and bags of high-budget original programming, WarnerMedia Asia Pacific has recruited Synamedia to support its existing satellite content delivery system for distribution from production to service providers. Yet a crucial part of the deployment is supporting Warner Media Asia Pacific’s transition to future IP delivery.

For this – along with its PowerVu Network Center for revenue protection, analytics, network management and more – Synamedia is also supplying its Virtual Digital Content Manager (vDCM) with Smart Rate Control and Automation. It also includes the D9800 Network Transport Receiver which is key for IP-based delivery as well as OTA licensing for customization as part of the video handoff to service providers. Its vDCM technology handles video processing for live multi-format delivery and it also boasts automatic scaling to provide maximum video quality at minimum bandwidth and storage costs through the use of machine learning and Synamedia’s own Stream Video Quality real-time quality metric software.

For now then, Synamedia will enable WarnerMedia Asia Pacific to increase revenues through enhanced security plus increased efficiency and speed of satellite delivery to pay TV platforms, particularly making use of HEVC technology. The deal also paves the way for its gradual IP transition which may arrive soon after HBO Max launches in the US in Spring 2020.

“Synamedia brings decades of experience and some of the best engineering minds in the industry to the table, which shows in their solutions and deployments,” commented Gustavo Fracassi, Senior Director, International Infrastructure & Transport, International Technology, WarnerMedia.

Importantly, this year’s IBC show will represent one year since the offspring of giants were forged from the fires of Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia – forming Synamedia, MediaKind and Velocix respectively – companies which we suspect will all look noticeably different celebrating their first birthdays.

Synamedia is first to flex its muscles in pre-IBC PR, teasing a revamped video network portfolio and new range of carrier-class delivery engines for its CDN infrastructure. The release is vague as you’d expect from a company holding back the big guns for the big event, outlining a “broadened portfolio” basically across the board, but what stands out is the addition to its video network portfolio of a DCM/vDCM support for Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) with Remote PHY, which we know will be a hot topic at IBC.

Upgrading HFC networks via DAA to decentralize the headend and network functions is an important component in the IP evolution for cable operators, a field which arguably Synamedia faces more competition in than it does for the flagship Infinite video platform and other products designed for more traditional video delivery as with WarnerMedia Asia Pacific. That said, another new component revealed this week includes five new compute node variants to ease the transition process to OTT video for traditional cable and satellite TV laggards. This broad portfolio is what drove Cisco to such heights before being spun off as Synamedia last year, but surely then the expansion into DAA products means stepping on the toes of its former parent company?

The cloud DVR will also receive a revamp with a unique hybrid common/unique copy solution.

“The industry is undergoing a period of profound and rapid change as the move to IP accelerates, opening up infinite opportunities for traditional and new pay TV providers to change the way we consume content. At IBC we will be showcasing numerous innovations that support customers wherever they are on their IP journey. We can help them deliver and monetize highly immersive IP viewing experiences cost-effectively and securely – and stay one step ahead of their competitors,” said Jean-Marc Racine, chief product officer, Synamedia.

Synamedia will also announce updates to its Streaming Piracy Disruption managed service for broadcast and streaming, plus upgrades to its Operational Security service. New functionality will be added to Credentials Sharing Insight, which helps streaming providers combat for-profit illegal password sharing and also drive incremental revenues from casual account sharing. It says its anti-piracy R&D investments will bear fruit for the first time at IBC, calling on the entire technology value chain to collaborate with rights holders and content owners to improve the detection and purge of piracy.

Is Synamedia trying to make a point by sliding in the NDS security element last but not least in this week’s press release? Perhaps we’re guilty of reading too much into that and we’re sure IBC will shine some additional light on the company’s roadmap. It’s true though that conditional access licensing revenues will be dwindling along with middleware, while organic growth will come from online video – in the form of DRM rather than conditional access and multicast DVR along with cloud DVR frontiers.

We’ll also be aiming for a demo of Synamedia’s virtual headend which it launched at Anga Com in May, using elements from Cisco heritage, notably the vDCM, designed specifically to virtualize the whole video headend. It has since been working to bring these together and at Anga it demonstrated its coupling of the vDCM with another existing product, its five-year old cloud CDN.

Last year, Faultline Online Reporter put its neck on the line and predicted that Synamedia was best positioned to prosper in the next evolution of the video technology wars, purely from a technology perspective, and so far, the vendor appears to be proving us right. But while consolidation has snapped up many traditional competitors, new arrivals will be chasing launches (and lunches) in emerging markets.