Adobe Advances Broadcast Creation to Delivery Workflows at IBC

This week at International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam, Europe’s largest show for broadcasters, Adobe’s video solutions team is showing off new versions of Flash Media Server and Flash Access, continuing to innovate on new, streamlined solutions for businesses to stream and protect premium video content. A highlight of both new products is enhanced support for mobile platforms.

With Flash Media Server (FMS) 4.5, media publishers can extend their already broad mobile reach via Flash-enabled devices, with the new ability to deliver video content to Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices, enabling them to reach the widest audience possible. Adobe’s Kevin Towes writes more about what’s new in FMS 4.5 on his blog.

Adobe Flash Access 3.0, a robust content protection and monetization solution, will enable content owners to deliver on-demand content with massive scale and strict studio-level security across a broad range of devices, following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 (release candidate versions are now available for download on Adobe Labs). More info about the latest enhancements in Flash Access can be found on Florian Pestoni’s blog.

Watch this video from Adobe’s Pritham Shetty where he discusses Adobe’s video solutions news at IBC, including Flash Media Server 4.5, Flash Access 3.0 and momentum for Adobe Pass—a solution for broadcasters, programmers and content portals to seamlessly and securely establish a user’s entitlement to premium content anywhere, anytime and on virtually any device:

If you’re attending IBC, stop by the Adobe booth in Hall 7, Stand 7.G27 and follow the Flash Platform Facebook and Twitter channels for updates on news from the show.

EPIX and the Adobe Flash Platform Engage Movie Buffs Across Multiple Devices

Today’s technology savvy audiences want to experience content across multiple platforms and devices, and are beginning to move away from passive forms of entertainment—they want to participate and interact with others to shape their experience. EPIX—a multi-platform premium entertainment channel, video-on-demand, and online service– teamed up with Adobe to bring current releases, classics, and original entertainment to all video platforms—linear TV, on demand, online, and mobile—while also encouraging social integration and sharing to reach the broadest audience possible.

With the Adobe Flash Platform, EPIX, a joint venture of Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, and MGM Studios, was given the necessary tools to create and carry out broadband authentication systems to over 30 million U.S. homes through its distribution partners including Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DISH Network, Mediacom Communications, NCTC, Suddenlink Communications, and Verizon FiOS with little to no development effort.

Using multiple Adobe technologies such as  Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe AIR, Adobe Flash Media Server, Adobe Flex, Adobe Flash Builder, and Adobe Flash Player, EPIX delivers content beyond the Web by building a library of available movie titles, which are encoded for delivery to a specific platform across different devices like Motorola XOOM, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Boxee Box. One of the notable capabilities in EPIX is “Screening Room: Watch With Friends,” a feature that includes sharing capabilities allowing users to watch movies in a social event, turning the experience into a more into viral, interactive, and engaging gathering. The Screening Room is great for large-scale events like concerts on-demand to bring fans together.

Learn more about how EPIX how it provides premium HD content to its subscribers on devices everywhere here.

IPTV is dead, long live TVoIP

For more than a decade, we’ve been hearing about the impending replacement of traditional video distribution methods with a new, better system called IPTV, for Internet Protocol Television. This was supposed to bring a large number of new features to the managed networks and associated set-top boxes used by telcos and pay TV operators. There have been several successful deployments, notably AT&T’s U-verse, but the promise has been largely unfulfilled: we haven’t seen the innovation that was supposed to be brought about by this technological change.

In the meantime, innovation has been on overdrive on the open Internet, both in terms of technical advancements and business model developments. The last few years have seen the emergence of large-scale streaming from companies like Hulu and Netflix, “catch up” services such as the BBC’s iPlayer, indie movies from new sites like SundanceNow, access to long-tail content via YouTube and others. The range of devices used to access this content over the Internet have also expanded to include PC/Mac, smartphones/tablets, and even TV sets, BluRay players and set-top boxes. In this space, Flash is the #1 platform for online video, enabling unparalleled reach and interactivity.

Today, this “over the top” distribution is primarily about video-on-demand. This meets consumers’ desire for time- and place-shifting, with the convenience of watching a movie or program on each viewer’s own schedule and on the device of their choice. However, the underlying technology has now evolved to the point where “linear content”,  the industry term for TV channels that play 24×7, can also be delivered in real time over the top, opening drastically more flexibility for consumption. We anticipate that over the next few years, there will be a major shift from traditional television delivery over managed networks to distribution over the open Internet. And with Internet-connected TV sets getting smarter and more powerful every year, such as those running Adobe’s Flash/AIR runtimes for Digital Home consumer electronics products, consumers will be able to “watch TV” with radically more options for content sources and with a richer user experience.

We call this TVoIP or TV over Internet Protocol. This is meant to be much more than a mere transposition of the IPTV acronym; it is an intentional reference to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which we believe is a very good analogy of the changes that are underway in the video space. In the case of VoIP, which reached mainstream availability over the last decade, at a bare minimum it had to offer the equivalent level of service to the technology it was attempting trying to displace. For telephony, the legacy technology was switched voice, where bandwidth was allocated to each phone call; while this continues to be in use, VoIP is now widely available worldwide from a large number of service providers. However, replacing one transport technology with another is only the beginning; VoIP has made possible significant business model innovation, additional services such as speech-to-text and text-to-speech, and expansion to new points of consumption.

TVoIP will allow pay TV operators who are still using “traditional” technologies such as DVB or QAM for switched digital video distribution to leapfrog over companies that have adopted IPTV. On the other hand, IPTV providers can leverage their investment and extend that to open Internet delivery. But that, again, is just the beginning.

With TVoIP, distribution is largely decoupled from the actual delivery infrastructure, so we can expect to see an explosion in the sources for TV-like experiences. Any content aggregator with access to premium content can offer TV programming directly to consumers, under a variety of business models including advertising, subscription, and surely others that have yet to be invented. If the introduction of cable and satellite made it possible to go from four networks to hundreds of TV channels by changing the economics of content distribution, TVoIP will usher the era of tens of thousands of channels that can be arbitrarily “niche” — think of it as the long tail of television.

The user experience is also guaranteed to be very different from the traditional “switched” experience. For starters, consumers will have greater choice over which devices they use to “watch TV”; these devices are likely to be purchased at retail stores, offering an alternative to leased set-top-boxes. Interactivity will go well beyond channel up/down or the EPG grid, enabling rich interactions with content as well as with other users. Content and advertising can be personalized to a degree that neither switched nor IPTV delivery can support today.

There still remain some significant technical and business challenges to make this a reality. The current network infrastructure for consumer Internet delivery may not be capable of carrying this amount of content economically without some significant changes in business model. For instance, today Netflix’s VOD distribution accounts for around one third of all Internet traffic at peak time, according to some measurements. However, online video watching accounts for only about 5 hours a month for the average consumer, compared to close to 5 hours a day for “traditional” TV. There is a 30X gap between the two, and TVoIP aims to close that gap, which will only exacerbate bandwidth requirements. Telcos are already looking at models to monetize this increase in bandwidth requirement, which will be necessary in order to fund the network expansion required.

Another significant aspect has to do with content rights and the technologies used to manage and enforce those rights. Traditionally, rights for linear delivery have been negotiated separately from rights for Internet delivery, but that model is already being tested by a number of companies willing to push the envelope … and ruffle some feathers in the process. On the technology side, traditional “conditional access” providers have dominated the protection of content distribution over managed networks, but have not been able to make serious inroads into protection for Internet delivery.

Technologies such as Flash Access, which already meet stringent studio requirements for premium content, are achieving incredible reach on consumer-owned devices (and, increasingly, over operator-owned equipment such as set-top boxes). The upcoming version of Flash Access will incorporate significant new features to enable large scale protection for linear content, greatly expanding the type of experiences and business models that can be offered over the top.

The roll out of TVoIP will not happen overnight, and we don’t anticipate that traditional distribution technologies will be turned off any time soon, but the evolution to this model seems inevitable. Adobe’s Flash Platform is well positioned to help accelerate this transition and we are already working closely with early adopters to make TVoIP more than just a soon-to-be catchphrase.

 

Florian Pestoni
Media & New Technologies
Twitter: @florianatadobe

Flash Access in your hand(held)

Flash Access is gaining momentum with content/service  providers, and is coming to mobile devices, including Android tablets and other mobile platforms, in the second half of 2011. This will extend the opportunities for monetization of premium content to more points of playback and will help consumers enjoy premium content on (most of) their favorite devices.

Flash Access is a studio-approved content protection solution for content monetization. It is part of the Flash Platform, enabling seamless access to premium video content with rich interactivity and multi-screen support. Other content protection solutions work primarily as silos, offering content only on certain devices or from certain content providers. With the Flash Platform, the same content can be deployed across multiple screens.

In the few months since Flash Access launched in mid-2010, there has been strong adoption worldwide, which is now supported on well over 85% of all Internet-connected computers. In a previous post, I mentioned that Flash Access protected content was also supported in AIR for TV, the Flash-based application framework and runtime that has been optimized for Internet/Smart TVs and broadband-enabled BluRay players. Now with the announcement of upcoming support for mobile, content providers will be able to target over a billion multi-screen devices from dozens of manufacturers with a single back-end.

I often get asked who is using Flash Access. The answer, of course, changes quickly as there has been rapid adoption. So far, content providers have deployed services offering premium video from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films, with additional uses in enterprise, government and education sectors. Use cases include streaming, download and even peer-to-peer, with monetization through a combination of rental, electronic sell-through and subscription in addition to advertising-funded models.

In addition to working directly with content providers (see some below), we have also been working closely with our partner ecosystem to enable a faster time to market and ease of integration. A number of service providers, from Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) to Online Video Platforms (OVP) have entered agreements to support Flash Access as a hosted option integrated into their infrastructure, thus allowing their customers to easily leverage the robust content delivery made possible by Flash Access. Some of these partners include Akamai, Brightcove, Limelight, Neulion, Origin Digital and thePlatform.

Here are a few really cool examples of companies using Flash Access today. We’ll be showcasing Flash Access at the Adobe booth at NAB, feel free to stop by. If you have licensing enquiries, please visit our licensing portal or email flashaccesslicensing@adobe.com.

 

VUDU

VUDU has licensing agreements with every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer a large library of movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. VUDU is a subsidiary of  Walmart.

“VUDU delivers the best streaming movie experience available on more than 300 devices – from HDTVs and blu-ray players to the Playstation 3.  We are also working with Adobe to support Flash for PCs and Macs using Flash Access,” said Edward Lichty, VUDU’s General Manager.  “We’re looking forward to expanding our collaboration with the upcoming release of Flash Access for mobile devices, which will ultimately enable us to deliver our best-in-class streaming service to consumers on the go.”

 

SundanceNow

SundanceNow is the place to watch independent films online. Instantly watch HD streaming video of new releases and hard to find films from around the world.

“Our clients take their commitment to content creators very seriously,” said Marc Sokol, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at Neulion. “In choosing Flash Access we are giving content owners, like those showcasing their amazing independent films on SundanceNow, the confidence that their content will not only be securely delivered but also properly monetized through our service, no matter which device our customers choose to watch on.”

 

Voddler

Voddler is an online video service based in Scandinavia and an early adopter of Flash Access. They have successfully integrated Flash Access with their distribution infrastructure and their AIR-based application. This allowed Voddler to secure content from content owners like Walt Disney, Paramount, and Sony Pictures.

“For both free and pay-per-view options, we have to reassure our partners that their content is properly monetized,” Anders Sjöman, vice president of communications for Voddler. “Adobe Flash Access helps safeguard our growing catalog of 3,300 titles and supports a variety of business models.”

 

Florian Pestoni
@florianatadobe

Adobe Pass Makes TV Everywhere a Reality

Today we are excited to announce the Adobe Pass authentication service, which enables pay TV subscribers to easily access premium content across the web from virtually any Internet-connected device.  
 
“TV Everywhere” is the Industry term that refers to Pay TV subscribers being able to access the same content they subscribe to through their traditional TV provider, online allowing customers to access premium TV content in web browsers, smartphones, tablets or IPTV’s.  The biggest problem to date with TV Everywhere is having a system that is transparent and easy to use for customers, conforms to all of the different parties business rules, and mostly importantly – is secure.  Adobe Pass solves these problems for all parties- consumers, programmers and pay TV providers alike.
 
Adobe has worked hard over the past year to integrate Adobe Pass with major Pay TV providers and content programmers.  By providing a secure, hosted solution, Adobe ensures that both the providers and the programmers have minimal integration work to perform as they pull together their many different online viewing options.  
 
Adobe Pass  leverages the Flash Platform for a seamless high-quality experience along with Adobe Flash Access® for enhanced security.  Adobe Pass also utilizes HTML5 for devices where Adobe Flash technology is not yet available.  
 
Adobe Pass is now live on several sites. Any Comcast, Verizon, Dish or Cox customer can try out the Turner TV everywhere sites, just click on the orange key to unlock more content by entering your pay TV username and password (typically the same information you would use to view your bill) at: www.tnt.tv/tveverywhere. What’s more, as you move to another site like www.tbs.com/tveverywhere, the premium contents come alive without a 2nd login. Verizon FiOS customers can also check out www.mtv.com/tve and again, the authentication will persist.

Adobe Pass is a great opportunity for Adobe to promote the Flash Platform across the entire media and entertainment industry, and to generate consistent, recurring revenue by solving a key business problem.  Keep up with the latest information on Adobe Pass on our product page at www.adobe.com/go/adobepass.

- Todd Greenbaum, Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Pass

Flash Access in your living room

Today during the Adobe MAX developer conference in Los Angeles, we announced availability of AIR for TV, bringing the Flash Platform to digital home devices such as Internet-connected TVs, BluRay players and set-top boxes. Check out more details on Aditya’s blog.

If you were not paying close attention, you may have missed this: AIR for TV includes Flash Access. By providing support for content protection on these devices, we are working with our partners to bring premium content via the Flash Platform to a broad range of devices.

And where would great video content look better than on a big display in your living room?

Florian Pestoni

Principal Product Manager

Adobe MAX: 24 Hours of Flash Media Server/P2P/Multicast/OSMF/DRM and so much more !

Next Week, Adobe Developers and Designers are coming together in Los Angeles for Adobe MAX. This year, is incredibly exciting with the recent addition of Leonard Nimoy (yes, Mr. Spock will be at MAX).

MAX.png

We’ve assembled the best and the most innovative speaker roster ever – and we have over 24 hours of content specifically for Adobe Flash Media Server, OSMF, Adobe Flash Access, P2P, Multicast and much more. I thought I’d give you a guide for those of you joining us next week.

FLASH MEDIA SERVER 4 SESSIONS
FMS4
was just released last month, and we have lots of sessions that will help you learn more about P2P, Multicast and how to deploy securely within your network. Here is a list of the sessions, and their speakers

Enterprise Live Video with Multicast and P2P
TUESDAY at 3-4pm
Speakers: David Hassoun and Jun Heider from Real Eyes, LLC.

Secure Enterprise Video Streaming with Flash Media Server and P2P
MONDAY at 5-6pm
Speakers: Asa Whillock and Seth Hodgson – Adobe Flash Media Server Engineering team

Video Delivery Roadmap for the Flash Platform
TUESDAY at 4:30pm & WEDNESDAY at 3:30pm
Speaker: Kevin Towes – Product Manager for Flash Media Server

(LAB) Building Scalable Applications with P2P and RTMFP SOLD OUT
TUESDAY AT 1:00PM & WEDNESDAY at 1:30pm
Speaker: Michael Thornburgh and Brad Outlaw – Adobe Flash Media Server Engineering team

Building P2P Multiplayer Games (don’t miss this one!)
TUESDAY at 3:00pm
Speaker: Tom Krcha – world wide Adobe Evangelist

MAX UnAwards widget uncovered: developing personalized video apps on the web
WEDNESDAY at 9:30am
Speaker: Serge Jespers – world wide Adobe Evangelist

OPEN SOURCE MEDIA FRAMEWORK SESSIONS
OSMF is a video player development framework -these labs and sessions will provide you with the knowledge how to deploy video even if you don’t know anything about coding, and if you do know something about coding, you will learn how to tweak and customize the framework for your business.

(LAB) Designing Custom Video Players SOLD OUT
TUESDAY at 1:00pm & WEDNESDAY at 1:30pm
Speaker: R Blank – AlmerBlank training

(LAB) Robust Video Player Development with Open Source Media Framework
MONDAY at 12:45pm & TUESDAY at 3:30pm
Speaker: Greg Hamer – world wide guru on Flash video development

Making Video Pay with Advertising and Analytics
WEDNESDAY at 11:00am
Speaker: Brian Riggs – Adobe Engineering for OSMF

Video on Flash Player 10.1 Mobile Devices DON’T MISS!
TUESDAY at 3:00pm
Speaker: Jens Loeffler – Adobe Evangelist for Media and Entertainment

HTTP DYNAMIC STREAMING SESSIONS + VIDEO ENCODING
With the release of Flash Media Server 4 and Flash PLayer 10.1, you can now deliver video using HTTP technologies. This means wider scale, and reach to the largest possible audience.

HD Streaming with HTTP Dynamic Streaming
WEDNESDAY at 9:30am
Speaker: Will Law – World famous Flash Video player developer working for Akamai

H.264 Encoding Strategies for All Screens DON’T MISS!
WEDNESDAY at 8:00am
Speaker – Fabio Sonnati – Back by popular demand – the world wide encoding specialist

Technical Tips and Best Practices for Getting Content on the Akamai HD Network
MONDAY at 2:00pm
Speaker: Adam Greenbaum – Akamai Networks

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again at another MAX show. Please do not be a stranger if we cross paths!

- Live long and Prosper.

Flash Player 10.1 for Google TV

We are excited about the launch of the first Google TV devices.  Google TV has set out to revolutionize the way we all enjoy television by bringing the web and search to the experience.  All Google TV devices will ship with a beta version of Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, a great step towards bringing a full web browsing experience to Internet connected televisions and other digital home devices.  With support for Adobe Flash, more than three million developers worldwide are now able to extend their web content to the digital home so users can enjoy rich, high-definition videos and other Flash-based web content.

Thanks to the ubiquity of Flash, there is a tremendous amount of engaging content on the web.  Watching video on computers and smartphones is great, but it is an even better experience watching web videos streamed to the biggest screen in your home – your TV.  Flash Player for Google TV is optimized to deliver amazing HD Flash video – all the way up to pristine 1080p.  Users can access both free and premium video content from sites across the web.  Some great examples are YouTube, TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, VEVO, Amazon Video On Demand, and HBO GO, just to name a few!

This is another important milestone for our multiscreen vision, enabling Flash content across devices, platforms, and browsers.  Similar to the release of Flash Player 10.1 for Android smartphones in May, the initial release for Adobe Flash on Google TV is a beta version.  It’s a great way for us to get feedback on real-world performance within the unique context of these new device screens.  Users will be able to benefit from “over-the-air” updates of the Google TV platform and Flash Player as we continue to collaborate with Google to improve the capabilities of Flash on these devices.

Adobe has been working closely with Google to integrate Flash Player 10.1 into all of their platforms, including Chrome, Android, and now Google TV.  While the beta version of Flash Player 10.1 on Google TV is a work in progress and still needs to be optimized for certain types of content, we are excited about the unlimited potential a full browser combined with Flash Player will bring to the TV experience.  We are committed to delivering updates to the Flash Player over the coming months to constantly improve the web experience on Google TV.

Seriously – ARE You Smarter than a Flash Evangelist?

As you may have read in a blog post last week from Ben Forta on the MAX blog, on Day 2 of this year’s MAX, on the community pavilion stage, we’ll be hosting a game show that pits 4 experts from the greater Flash community against 4 Adobe Flash evangelists. We’re calling the game “Are You Smarter than a Flash Evangelist?” and right now we’re taking your questions (and answers) to make this a quality, “infotaining” event. Got a Q/A that will flummox our contestants? Send it to us: fye@adobe.com. Can be multiple choice, single answer, techy or not so techy. The more the better.

SO WHEN IS THE GAME?
Tues Oct 26 at 4.30pm PT – MAX Pavilion stage, LACC

WHO IS PLAYING?
The Adobe team: Lee Brimelow, Ryan Stewart, Michael Chaize and Serge Jespers
The Community team: Stacey Mulcahy, Chuck Freedman, Elad Elrom and Jesse Freeman – aka The Flash Bum

WHAT’S THE ACTUAL GAME?
4 rounds of questions – the 4th round will be Family Feud style survey question which we’ll also want your input on, stay tuned for a link! – and then a final Lightning Round of Q/As.

WHAT WILL THEY WIN?
A mug. Probably a beer. Lots of bragging rights.

WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
Besides emailing us Q/A’s to fye@adobe.com… Join us at MAX 2010. Here’s how to convince your boss. Already convinced? Here’s where to register for MAX.

New White Paper on Protected Streaming with Flash Access

We have just uploaded to our website a white paper I’ve been working on for a while with some colleagues. We wanted to focus on the use of Flash Access for protected streaming. It’s available off of our product page, or you can just follow this link.

You’ll need to read the actual white paper to get the full story, but here I wanted to comment on how we are extending the term protected streaming to include not just the traditional RTMPE method but also the newer, more flexible and more robust Flash Access.

Although the details of these technologies differ, both can be used to securely stream content online. RTMPE has been widely used to date to create a secure pipe for content; technically, we refer to this as “session protection” because it establishes a unique session key between client and streaming server and basically encrypts all data going over that connection using the session key.

Flash Access, on the other hand, provides “persistent protection”, meaning that content is protected once and stays protected wherever it goes. This makes the protected content cache-friendly, allowing the whole file or portions of it to be saved into temporary storage –whether on a CDN’s infrastructure or on a user’s computer– without compromising the security of the content.

This method of protection is most often associated with a download model. However, Flash Access can be used for both download and streaming. There are some clear benefits to having one single content protection solution that can be used for various distribution models, over different transport protocols and with different monetization options like paywall, rental, etc.

In this new white paper we focus on some of the design features of Flash Access that make it a highly efficient and scalable solution for streaming applications, even those with a large number of simultaneous users. Because a given file is only encrypted once, you save CPU utilization at the time of streaming, and by making smart use of caches and packaging content into small fragments (eg using HTTP Dynamic Streaming)) this can be made to scale. In addition, the advanced architecture and key management for Flash Access allows you to run a stateless license server, which also results in very significant efficiencies.

Happy reading.

Florian Pestoni
Principal Product Manager
Twitter: @florianatadobe