Internet TV: Storyline Subscriptions wrote:

Internet TV: Storyline Subscriptions

Do you remember, about ten years ago, we used to talk about the "great jukebox in the sky", where every song ever made would be available online, and playable on a whim? Well, that reality has pretty much come true, with many resources available on the Internet for finding and playing music, and with digital back catalogs getting deeper and deeper making more and more songs available.

The Problem

Well, the same thing is going to happen to TV: every TV show ever made will be available online, playable at a whim’s notice. But unlike music, which for most of its popular life has been the defining "bite sized" media experience, TV content has always epitomized the serial rich media experience.

But TV has always been a bit self-defeating in that regard, with broadcast windows that make episodic TV so ephemeral. Here tonight, gone tomorrow, maybe back in reruns next spring. Secondary distribution mechanisms are starting to fill the gap, but ultimately only complicate the viewing experience. Today, if you want to watch a TV shows that has been on for several seasons, you might need to:

  • Rent or buy DVDs of previous seasons
  • Purchase the first several episodes of current seasons, because they’ve already been broadcast
  • Record the current episodes with your DVR, and save them until you’re all caught up

Then you have to coordinate across all these delivery mechanisms to watch the show in the proper order… What a hassle!

The Solution

There is a better way. More and more, TV shows are being (re)distributed as RSS feeds, which allows for a completely "on-demand" experience. What’s more, the coolest feature of Adobe Media Player, called "Storyline Subscriptions", takes advantage of the reverse chronological order inherent in RSS to deliver every episode of a show, in order, from the beginning, at a pace determined by each individual viewer.

Most video RSS aggregators will pull the most recent episodes of a show, which is great for news and magazine-style shows. But for story-based shows, viewers really want to start from the beginning, in order to follow the story arcs and character developments. When you subscribe to a show in Adobe Media Player, you can choose to either pull the N most recent episodes, or choose to pull N episodes starting with a specific episode, usually the first one. And of course you can change these settings, on a per-show basis, at any time.


What’s more, in storyline mode, Adobe Media Player won’t queue up subsequent episodes until you watch the ones you currently have, so you can watch each show at your own pace and not worry about falling behind or taking up too much disk space.

For Content Owners

Storyline subscriptions have tremendous benefits for content owners as well:

  • As you create your show, you can continue to grow your audience organically, without worrying about leaving new viewers behind.
  • If you’re paying the bills thru advertising, more viewers watching more of your show’s episodes means more impressions and more potential revenue.
  • After the initial subscription, you reduce bandwidth costs because only active viewers receive subsequent episodes.

Because so much video podcasting is news- or magazine-oriented, we couldn’t turn storyline subscriptions on by default for all RSS feeds. But we did define a new RSS extension that allows you to turn storyline subscriptions on by default for your show in Adobe Media Player. Simply add Adobe Media Player namespace and the following to your RSS feed:


When Adobe Media Player detects this, it automatically starts a subscription to that feed in storyline mode, beginning with the first (last) episode in the feed.

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