Synamedia Extends Deals with Bharti Airtel and Astro

Synamedia, a startup formed late 2018 via a buyout of Cisco Systems’ video software unit, has announced two extensions of existing deals in Asia with Indian telco Bharti Airtel and Malaysian satellite TV operator Astro.

The deal with Bharti Airtel also covers satellite TV, being with the telco’s direct to home (DTH) arm Airtel Digital TV, which has renewed a long-term partnership dating back through the Cisco years of ownership. In a new multi-year contract, Synamedia will work with Airtel on enhancements to its multi-lingual EPG, alongside additional features and functionality to boost the overall user experience.

Airtel will continue to use Synamedia’s VideoGuard developed and enhanced by Cisco to manage and monetize live sports, news, entertainment and other premium content delivered to its 16 million DTH subscribers. “Synamedia continues to be a strategic, long-term partner for Airtel,” said Sunil Taldar, Bharti Airtel CEO – DTH business. “Our two companies share a common vision centered on innovation designed to boost customer experience and revenues while also protecting content investments.”

Then the deal with Astro Malaysia covers deployment of Synamedia’s cloud-based Infinite video platform to secure, distribute and monetize premium video services across all screens, with the aim of improving viewer engagement. Synamedia says that Infinite will deliver the same viewing experience on one-way and two-way connected devices, while Astro customers will continue to have access to all stored and scheduled recordings on the new platform.

The main focus has been on improving the user experience (UX) across existing DVR and Astro Go video streaming services, featuring enhanced search, enriched metadata and instantaneous playback using Synamedia’s adaptive bit rate streaming. Customers can upgrade to new hybrid DTH and IP enabled 4K UHD set-top boxes with the enhanced UX and cloud-based recording features.

Synamedia was formed in 2018 from acquisition of Cisco’s software business by equity firm Permira Funds for $1 billion. Sky, now part of Comcast, then came in with a substantial but undisclosed stake, although the eventual intention is for the firm to go public, according to Abe Peled, Synamedia 's chairman. As Peled noted, private equity investment is usually temporary and requires an exit, although Sky’s investment was more strategic.

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