SyncTV: building TV apps for almost every device

When it comes to building connected-TV apps, most video providers are stuck trying to decide which devices to build for: After all, it seems like every consumer electronics manufacturer has its own software development kit (SDK) to do so. There are more than a dozen different frameworks for creating applications that run on different connected TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, streaming set-top boxes, tablets, mobile handsets and the like, which is more than most publishers can reasonably be expected to develop for.
Enter SyncTV, which aims to deliver third-party video applications for multiple platforms without going through the process of reinventing the wheel each time a publisher wants to reach a new device. The company delivers video experiences to the PC and Mac (s AAPL), as well as mobile frameworks like Android (s GOOG) and iOS. But the real key is in reaching TV screens, with apps built for connected TVs and Blu-ray players.
SyncTV builds apps for connected TVs and other devices from a wide range of major CE manufacturers, such as Sony, (s SNE) Samsung, LG, Vizio, Philips and Panasonic. Its apps are also available on Roku and Boxee Box streaming devices, and it’s also working on applications for the upcoming launch of Microsoft’s (s MSFT) new Xbox Live user interface.
Being available on such a wide range of devices is becoming increasingly important for video publishers. When you think about Netflix, (s NFLX) for instance, one of that company’s main advantages over competitors has been its relative ubiquity on connected devices. However, that ubiquity comes with a price: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has admitted to paying an “innovation tax” for being in all of those places. But not everyone has the resources that Netflix does, which are necessary to build all those apps.
With SyncTV, however, video publishers don’t necessarily need to create apps for every device. Because it’s already built the user interface and has the back end necessary for ingest, encoding, digital rights management, ad insertion, reporting and billing, it can simplify the process of rolling out to new devices. It can also reuse a lot of the same code and infrastructure.
For video publishers, that reduces a ton of complexity associated with being everywhere that consumers want them to be. There are already a number of publishers taking advantage of that offer: SyncTV’s named clients include NBC Universal (s CMCSA) in the UK, French broadcaster M6, U.S.-based VOD provider Avail-TVN, German TV station Wider.TV and South Asian content provider Bollywood Nirvana.
SyncTV is being spun out of DRM provider Intertrust, and it is going independent. The company, which currently has more than 30 employees, is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., and also has offices in France, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and China.