We’ve chatted with SyncTV president John Gildred, who has filled in some of the blanks on Pioneer’s new web TV offering. The reason that details about Sync’s content have been thin is because Sync’s content is… pretty thin, for now.
The one significant deal that Sync does have is with CBS’ Showtime premium cable offering, and even that is less robust than it could be: Consumers will be able to order Showtime on a pay-per-view basis, but won’t be able to subscribe to the entire channel. In short, this is a product announcement, not a finished product.
Gildred says he envisions the service as an a la carte version of cable TV, where consumers pay a monthly subscription fee ($2 to $3) for a single cable channel, including a deep catalogue of shows that can be moved from the PC to portable devices, and, ultimately, the TV. But right now the venture has no network deals in place, so it licensed back catalogue of childrens’ shows, cartoons, classic TV, and Japanese anime, and created four “channels” of their own to demonstrate the service.
Interview after the jump.
SAI: What is the vision for SyncTV, to replace cable?
John Gildred: We’re not shooting to replace cable. It’s something that could be complementary to cable as an a la carte option. On cable, VOD is not giving you the entire catalogue for a particular show. We will be looking to bring the whole catalogue of shows.
SAI: CBS’s Showtime costs about $13 a month on cable; how much would you charge for the network on SyncTV?
Gildred: We don’t have Showtime on subscription yet. Right now it’s a pay-per-item channel. We have four channels on subscription, but Showtime is not one of them.
SAI: Will you offer ad-supported cable networks, and if so, will the ads be part of the streaming/download service?
Gildred: We will have ad-supported networks for the subscription content. The ads are the same as you would see on cable. They (the ads) will download separately and we will associate the ads with the content. It will be a similar experience to watching TV.
SAI: I presume you’ve been talking with the major networks. How is that going and when do you expect to sign one up to take part in SyncTV?
Gildred: We’ve been talking to the major networks for the past year or two years. We set up the infrastructure; getting the subscription service online and getting them familiar with our system and our DRM. They are excited but its a leap for some of them. We expect an announcement with a major broadcast network, and we’ve had close negotiations with others.
SAI: Why would NBC or Fox participate when they have their own free service, Hulu.com?
Gildred: This is different from Hulu. If you want a true experience of high quality content and want to sit down with a home theatre–all of that is possible on our system but Hulu is not going to enable that, especially on devices from other manufacturers. We have rights to play content on any device, up to 5 at home and 10 portable devices.
(Follow up call with Sync spokesman: “NBC is aware that Hulu is a different proposition. We have had no indication from any network they are not willing to play ball.”)