At CES, Syncbak unveils its internet television solution
Before Syncbak made its Consumer Electronics Show (CES) debut, the startup was already generating industry buzz.
Syncbak, which is based in Marion, Iowa, and has 18 employees, is unveiling its mobile app today at the industry trade show in Las Vegas, an annual event known for providing a glimpse of the future.
"There's no question that broadcast television is going to transition to the internet," Syncbak founder Jack Perry said in an interview on Friday. "It has to. It did for cable, it did for satellite and it's likely going to go on the internet, someone needs to solve that and we built the technology to do that."
The technology, known as "over the top" (OTT) television in industry jargon, enables television to be broadcast using a broadband connection instead of the existing cable or satellite systems, and it's the core of Syncbak's platform.
"In this time of media disruption, our first job was to build an authentication technology to move broadcast to broadband," Perry (left) said in a press release today. "We did that and today our technology authenticates 25 million households per second. Now our job is to get the content flowing."
Leading up to today's launch, Syncbak installed its hardware in 50 local broadcast stations in 35 markets, preparing them to go OTT. With the release of the Syncbak mobile app in the Apple App Store and Android Market, the first iteration of Syncbak is live, publicly debuting in Spokane, Wash. with three television stations.
So if you're in Spokane and want to watch the local news on your mobile device or internet connected television, Syncbak allows you to tune in. The service is currently available at no cost, which Perry said was made possible in part through relationships – Perry is a veteran of the television industry – and agreements with content owners.
"Our technology solves the rights issue by enabling a content owner to assign regional rights to different pieces of content," Perry said. A device, such as an iPad, authenticates a viewer is in a region and then communicates with the Syncbak-installed hardware and software at the local broadcaster. Next, Syncbak's rights management software in the cloud pairs the devices and decides if they're a match. If so, content is opened up to the viewer.
Syncbak's technology solves the rights issue, Jack Perry says, by working with local broadcasters and content owners. Above, a Syncbak employee shows off a Syncbak live stream during platform testing in 2011.
In short, this is the meaning of the company's name. "Essentially," Perry said, "we're using the digital broadcast infrastructure to go out and find viewers and using those, whatever device a viewer has, to tell the TV stations around them, 'Hey, I'm here and I'm ready to watch something.' So we 'sync back' viewers to everyone who has content for them."
Today's unveiling is just the start of what Perry envisions for the company.
"We created a new paradigm which that broadcaster who wants to use the internet and mobile devices can now cut other content deals to deliver to those viewers," Perry said.
"So if I'm a WOI in Des Moines, I care only that people are watching and not what they're watching because all I've done is said to Willis Auto Group, 'When (a viewer) watches anything, doesn't matter what it is, I'm going to put your ad in front of him.' And that's the future of television and that's where we're taking it."
This keeps local broadcasters like WOI relevant as they continue to produce hyperlocal content, such as the evening news. It also allows local broadcasters to add a variety content outside of local coverage, such as the day-time talk show or soap opera. Perry said that arrangement also enables broadcasters to continue longstanding relationships with local advertisers.
Outside of ads, Syncbak plans to draw revenue from subscriptions, on-demand and access to viewer metrics.
Syncbak was founded in 2009 and has raised nearly $6 million with investment from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and major network executives and broadcast groups. On Friday, Perry called the investment from the two associations unprecedented, especially that they both made an investment in the same company.
"And CEA is who puts on CES," Perry said, "so it's a very big show for us."
If you're not in Las Vegas, stay tuned for more about Synback at CES on Silicon Prairie News, where we'll be watching to see if the startup from Iowa lives up to some of the pre-conference expectations.
Editor's note: Silicon Prairie News contributor Amy Oline contributed facts to this story.