Synacor: Simplified authentication can reduce TV Everywhere abandonment rates by 80%, but challenges remain

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Consumers that subscribe to an online video service have a simple expectation: they want to be able to view their favorite content wherever and whenever they want, but issues with service authentication remain a key factor in customers abandoning service.

OTT video services, according to eMarketer, grew 4.6% to $188.1 million in 2016, and forecast to grow to 200 million by 2019. Synacor, a developer of software solutions for the video industry, said in a new white paper that authentication issues often result in complex login attempts that lead to 50% of consumers abandoning their login efforts.

“Content has to be easily accessible across locations and devices,” says Himesh Bhise, CEO of Synacor in a statement provided to FierceOnlineVideo. “With OTT, viewers often need to log in to multiple platforms to view different content, and the current lack of authentication makes that a difficult and frustrating proposition.” 

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By solving the authentication issue Syncaor says it has seen an over 80% reduction in abandonment rates.

One service provider that has seen this trend first hand is Midco. Although the cable provider had a customer portal for online TV viewing, about 50% of its users were abandoning the login process. By launching customer-facing portal that can be accessed from any device as well as home-based authentication and social log in capabilities, Midco saw its TV Everywhere abandonment rates drop by over 80%, for example.

Consumers want flexibility

A key source of frustration is that consumers want to watch their services across any of their devices, whether they are in their living room, on a plane or inside a cab.

According to a Needham & Company report, the average TV household now has at least 7 devices they use every day, with 6% having over 15 devices. Not surprisingly, the majority of these connected devices are used to view video services.

Specifically, Sandvine says in-home traffic is being mainly accessed on five main devices 45.4% Windows PCs, 61.6% on Android devices, 65.2% on Sony PS4 consoles, 81.3% on tablets, and 95.1% on Roku devices.

Options bring benefits, drawbacks

While there are a number of more effective subscriber sign-on solutions such as home-based authentication (HBA), out-of-home auto authentication, and single sign-on (SSO), TV providers have been challenged in implementing these platforms.

Synacor said that one of the key hurdles for online video providers and MVPDs that want to implement these solutions are “integrating immensely complex technical backends between programmers and operators, and deeply seated concerns about compromising fruitful and stable interdependent relationships with the possibility of competition.”

All of these platforms have benefits and drawbacks.

HBA, for one, offers the users one click to give user a one click log into their content, giving operators and programmers a potential differentiator. However, the drawback with HBA is that it is only applicable for devices used in the home and with MSOs and MVPDs that are also local ISPs.

With Out-of-Home Authentication, the login process is simplified to 1-2 log-ins, but users find that the initial set-up process is laborious. This is because this solution could require two passwords -- one for the social network and one for the TV provider.

Finally, Single Sign-On (SSO) offers one login across TV Everywhere websites and sometimes across mobile apps if the devices share the same mobile SSO-ready operating system. Apple’s operating systems offer a single service sign-on for multiple devices at one time.

Despite SSO’s potential, the sessions still require an initial login. SSO could also require multiple login experiences as users move from one app to another, from one browser to another, or from one device to another.

While there are clearly challenges with the new authentication methods, OTT and other video providers that want to scale their subscriber bases need to embrace them.