Streaming Media Readers Honor Adobe Primetime

Today at Streaming Media West, Adobe Primetime was recognized as a winner of the 2015 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards in five categories:

  • Closed Captioning Solution
  • DRM/Access Control Solution
  • Media & Entertainment Video Platform
  • OTT Platform for MSO and MVPD
  • Reporting & Analytics Platform (with Adobe Analytics)

This award recognizes the best online video technologies based on public voting. According to Streaming Media, “This year’s awards brought in 326 nominations; after weeding out the duplicates and the nominations that weren’t appropriate for their categories, we narrowed the field down to 249 nominees and opened the voting to readers.”

With nearly 36,000 votes cast across 29 categories, we’re honored that Streaming Media’s readers recognized Adobe Primetime for its work with customers and partners in the constantly evolving online video/TV industry. The future of TV is bright and we’re thrilled to be powering content viewing, distribution and monetization across screens for broadcasters, programmers and pay-TV providers. Thank you to the Streaming Media staff for hosting this award. We appreciate the accolade alongside so many other industry players and we have some exciting innovations around Primetime coming in 2016 – so stay tuned!




And congrats to our fellow Adobe Creative Cloud team who was also honored with a Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Adobe Premiere Pro CC in the “Desktop Video Editing Software” category.


Our Commitment to 99.99% Uptime for Adobe Primetime Authentication

Adobe Primetime Authentication (formerly Adobe Pass) is committed to 99.99% uptime. That’s only around 4 minutes of downtime per month or less. Every month this year Primetime Authentication achieved 99.99% uptime or better, except this month. This month, an external factor put our systems to the test. All our preparations paid off. Primetime Authentication will end October with a 99.95% uptime, which is .04% shy of our goal. This post is about how we keep our uptime commitment.

Architecting robust services

Infrastructure breaks. No matter how much care you take, it breaks. There is no question about it. The only question is when. And the really hard question is actually how prepared you are to deal with it when it breaks.
Any type of infrastructure. Things break in the public cloud and in the private cloud. A wide range of factors such as software bugs, hardware defects, or third-party services failures can put any system to the test. So it takes a robust architecture to keep a service up even when infrastructure breaks.

Here is a recent example. Primetime Authentication is architected as a distributed system running in an active-active configuration between the eastern and western United States. It relies on our DNS provider to geo-balance the traffic. If we encounter problems in the east, the traffic is automatically shifted to the west and vice-versa. This is a major factor in our high availability. Our DNS provider is reliable and not expected to fail. And still…

The outage

Last week our DNS provider experienced a major outage that affected multiple states in the eastern United States and impacted several high profile services. That hit us hard. Let’s see how we dealt with it.

Rapid response

Within minutes of the DNS outage, our team was in a virtual incident war-room scrambling to react. It was after midnight in our time zone, but we were online in minutes. This is where all those annoying little things paid off: the fine-tuned uptime monitoring, the automated alerting system, the discipline of 24×7 on-call, and the practiced incident response procedures. They all came together like a well-oiled machine to save valuable time.
Ok, so what’s next? First we thought that something went wrong with our eastern instance. So we brought that down and expected the traffic to shift automatically to our western instance. No time for deep investigation, you need to act quickly to restore the service, that’s the first priority in an incident. But the traffic didn’t shift and critical alerts kept pouring down. By the time we narrowed this to be a DNS issue, we got an email from our provider acknowledging the outage.

A DNS outage is bad. Your service is up, but Internet users cannot reach it because the name cannot be resolved to an actual IP address. Most services are just waiting for the outage to pass and thus restore user access. But we can’t afford that with a 99.99% commitment. So we have a backup DNS system.

The right precaution

Some time ago we migrated from our in-house operated DNS solution to a cloud provider. And we had the precaution of keeping our DNS settings with the in-house system as well in an inactive status. This proved to be the key to our recovery. We re-activated the DNS settings in our in-house system and made that our primary DNS provider. The fact that we kept the “dormant” records there allowed us to enforce aggressive propagation of the new DNS records. The technical details are less trivial than depicted here and involve a pre-defined hierarchy of domains and subdomains that allowed us to control our DNS in this way. The point is that you cannot just adopt a new DNS provider on the spot because this change will take hours to propagate for the first time.
So our precaution of keeping the backup DNS system saved us. We were back online and fully accessible in a short amount of time. It took us more than 4 minutes, for sure. So we failed our 99.99% for the month by a small margin. But we were back before everybody else was and we were one of the very few services to do so.

Continuing to protect Primetime Authentication uptime

In retrospect, this looks like a simple thing. Such things always do, hindsight is 20/20. Of course, another DNS provider, what could be simpler? You would be amazed how few services actually have that at the ready. Most of the affected services just waited in frustration of not being able to react until the DNS provider fixed their outage, 90 minutes later. A DNS outage at this scale doesn’t happen every day, it happens rarely. But when it happens, you can lose invaluable uptime minutes if you are not prepared.

We continue to remain prepared to protect the uptime of Primetime Authentication when the next challenge strikes.

Exciting trends in video monetization and TV connected devices in Q2 2015 Digital Video Benchmark report

The Digital Video Benchmark report by Adobe Digital Index can help you keep up-to-date with the changes taking place in how consumers view video. It covers both online video consumption and TV Everywhere trends. In the Q2 2015 report, we identified three key trends that will be important to Adobe Primetime customers. Here’s a summary of these trends.

  1. Video monetization is on an upward trend; viewers are now watching nearly 3 ads per video view
    Video ads per video view are up 30% over Q2 2014. Monetizing video appears the easiest in reality TV, where viewers see 3.9 ads per video view, and the hardest in comedy, where viewers see 2.1 ads per video view.
    global monthly average ad start per video start
  2. Authenticated TV is moving back to the living room; 21% of TV Everywhere authentications are happening from TV connected devices
    The share of authenticated viewing via a TV connected device rose from 10% in Q2 2014 to 21% in Q2 2015, an increase of 110% year over year (YoY). This, combined with a 21% decline YoY in tablet video viewing suggests that viewers are ditching their tablets in favor of TV connected devices. Kids swapping out iPads for Apple TV and Roku are leading this charge.
    share of TV everywhere users by device type
  3. Viewing frequency is now the highest on TV connected devices
    In Q2 2014, TV connected devices trailed iOS and Android in the average number of authenticated video views per visitor. By Q2 2015, viewing frequency jumped from 7.2 authenticated video views per visitor to 9.7 authenticated video views per visitor. This makes TV connected devices beat out all other access types on viewing frequency. In comparison, iOS has a viewing frequency of 9.2 authenticated video views per visitor, Android has a viewing frequency of 7.9, and the browser has a viewing frequency of 4.8.
    tv everywhere viewing frequency by access type

You can read the full Q2 2015 Digital Video Benchmark by Adobe Digital Index by downloading a free copy here.

How Adobe Primetime is Incorporating DASH

In March, I wrote about how Adobe Primetime is transitioning to MPEG-DASH, or DASH for short, which is a standard for adaptive bitrate (ABR) delivery of media to any device. This month, Abhinav Kapoor, Sr. Manager of Software Development at Adobe Primetime, shared the latest update at IBC 2015 regarding our plans to incorporate DASH and expand the use of DASH for streaming video.

In his presentation, Abhinav talks about Adobe Primetime’s support for DASH on HTML5, on our native clients across all the devices that we support, and about how we’re using DASH on both the client- and server-side. For example, Adobe Primetime has several server-side components that are ready for DASH, which has several benefits, including reducing the complexities around inserting ads on the server side. He also covers how we’re working on extensions to the standard in order to bring in support for features like WebVTT and common encryption for the rotation of licenses and keys.

Adobe Primetime looks forward to actively pursuing to integrate standards like DASH to engage audiences with premium TV experiences online. Interested in the full story? Watch Abhinav’s presentation in this video.  

Parks Associates Report Download: What Matters When it Comes to Ad Insertion for Premium Programming

Parks Associates just released a new report about ad insertion, sponsored by Adobe Primetime. It’s for media executives looking to streamline ad insertion in over-the-top (OTT) video and TV Everywhere delivery. The report highlights the need to take a holistic approach to ad insertion and to properly evaluate the tradeoffs of server- and client-side approaches.

The report takes readers through four key areas of ad insertion. First, it covers the business and technical considerations such as scale, ad blocking, ad waste, ad decisioning, and analytics. Second, it explores the pros and cons of client-side and server-side approaches to ad insertion. Third, it discusses the companies that offer ad insertion capabilities, including Internet companies, content delivery networks (CDNs), encoding companies, online video platforms (OVPs), and cable technology vendors. Finally, it outlines the five things that matter the most about ad insertion: reach, efficiency, intelligence, engagement, and quality at scale.

To read the full report, sign up to get a free copy here.

Improving Startup Performance by Pre-Fetching Videos Faster with TVSDK 2.0

Adobe Primetime customers get a major improvement in startup performance from the Instant On feature in our new TVSDK 2.0.

What is Instant On?

Instant On is a feature in TVSDK 2.0 that allows app developers to pre-fetch video segments and queue them up for playback even before a viewer has selected them.

The Instant On difference

Without Instant On, when a viewer starts a video, the video player needs to wait until it has received enough data to start playing. Depending on factors like the video bitrate and network conditions, startup can take up to 10 seconds or even longer. With Instant On, the data needed to start playback is pre-fetched in the background so that startup only takes half a second or less. The chart below shows that in our tests, startup time can be over 3000% faster with Instant On.

The Instant On feature of TVSDK 2.0 improved startup time for premium programming playback by over 3000% in tests


Four use cases for Instant On

There are four key ways that TV and video app developers can use Instant On.

  1. Keep two streams ready for instant playback
    Developers can make it painless for viewers to switch between two streams. For example, if a viewer is watching two sporting events at the same time, he or she would not want to experience buffering at each transition from one sporting event to the other. Instant On can be used to keep both streams ready for instant playback.
  2. Pre-fetch videos while viewers browse
    As viewers browse the options for what they could watch, developers can pre-fetch 3-6 of the most likely selections. Any viewer that picks one of the pre-fetched options will have a fast startup experience.
  3. Pre-fetch the next video coming up
    For viewers watching a programmed channel or playlist, Instant On can be used to pre-fetch the next video coming up. This provides a much more TV-like experience than one where every new show goes through a period of buffering.
  4. Pre-fetch paused videos
    Instant On also makes the viewing experience smoother for viewers that pause a stream. When they come back to the stream, Instant On can be used to start it right back up without any waiting.

Instant On powers a better viewer experience

Overall, Instant On makes the experience of watching premium programming over the internet more similar to watching TV. It does this by making startup times faster for instant playback including switching from one stream to another, making the first choice to play a video, transitioning from one show to the next episode, and returning to a show after pausing it. We’re excited to see developers take advantage of Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0’s new Instant On feature.

Adobe Primetime is at IBC 2015 – Now faster in playing back premium experiences across OTT and TV-E

We’re attending the IBC conference and exhibition this week in Amsterdam, and excited about being part of an event that is focused on the latest technologies and business models powering the creation, management, and delivery of digital content to consumers. Check out our press release on how Adobe continues to advance video from content creation through delivery, including highlights from Adobe’s Creative and Marketing Cloud.

At IBC, we are previewing the new and improved Adobe Primetime stack, which includes faster playback with the instant-on capability of our latest TVSDK, more mobile-friendly, frictionless authentication with OAUTH 2.0, and new support for OTT and TV Everywhere measurement in Adobe Analytics.  Stop by the Adobe booth in G27 in Hall 7 if you are attending the event to learn more!

TVSDK 2.0 Improves Engagement and Monetization Across Devices

Starting today, Adobe Primetime customers can deploy the latest TVSDK across devices with ease. Our goal with Adobe Primetime TVSDK has always been to help TV providers and media companies build and deliver premium video experiences across IP-connected screens. This upgrade continues to serve this goal by helping developers achieve greater performance for their TV experiences, deploy with greater consistency to all the different screens and reach more screens in total.

Key improvements include:

  • Faster startup time for live streams by up to 500%
  • A unified architecture that will enable faster deployments to new devices and more synchronized access to new features across devices
  • Extended delivery to new OTT devices including Xbox One.

TVSDK 2.0 improvements

As a result of these improvements, Adobe Primetime customers are more equipped than ever to engage and monetize audiences across devices.

Achieve greater performance

Video apps and experiences must quickly respond to increase viewer engagement. To meet this expectation, Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 includes many new features that are designed to speed up response times. One exciting feature called Instant On allows app developers to pre-fetch video content in order to start its playback in under a second.

In tests, Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 sped up a wide range of performance measures. In comparison to TVSDK 1.3, it had startup times for premium VOD content that were 3000% faster, startup times for premium live content that were 500% faster, a 300% improvement on the time it takes to insert ad breaks and a 250% improvement to the fast-forward and fast-rewind functionalities.

Deploy with greater consistency across more devices

Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 has a new, unified architecture that makes it easier for TV and video app developers to deploy premium video experiences consistently across devices. The architecture includes a C++ core with a thin, platform-specific API surface that talks directly to the core. That API surface is consistent across devices. The architecture also includes a single JavaScript interface for talking to browsers.

This unified architecture offers two key benefits. First, it makes porting Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 to new devices faster. Already, this ease of porting has extended the reach of Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 to Xbox One devices. Second, it makes the release of new features more synchronized across devices. Together, these benefits provide faster access to new devices and new features for Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 users.

Figure 2. Unified architecture of Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0

TVSDK 2.0 devices

Prepare to deploy to HTML5 environments

Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 paves the way to deploying premium TV experiences across HTML5 environments because it will serve as the fallback solution to TVSDK for HTML5. For example, if a customer deploys to desktop browsers with Adobe Primetime TVSDK for HTML5 but a viewer accesses it from a browser that does not support HTML5, TVSDK 2.0 will come in and provide the premium experience that the viewer expects to see.

Getting started

We’re excited to see Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 improve reach and monetization across devices. We’d like to help all our existing customers upgrade to Adobe Primetime TVSDK 2.0 as soon as possible. To get started, reach out to your Adobe Primetime account manager.

Adobe Primetime Nominated for Six Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards

Public voting is now open for the 9th annual Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards – where end users (you) choose the winners honoring the best online video technologies. We’re pleased to have Adobe Primetime nominated again for helping broadcasters, cable networks and service providers deliver and monetize engaging and personalized TV and film experiences across screens.

Adobe Primetime has been nominated in six categories – Closed Captioning Solution, DRM/Access Control Solution, Media & Entertainment Video Platform, OTT Platform for MSO and MVPD, Reporting & Analytics Platform (with Adobe Analytics), and Video Advertising Solution.

Please visit by Oct. 1 to see all nominees and cast your votes across 29 categories. All voters will receive a confirmation e-mail after voting closes. The top three finalists in each category will be announced on Oct. 15 and winners will be named on Nov. 18 at Streaming Media West. We hope to see you there and thanks for helping get out the vote for the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards.


Video: Strategies to Deploy Multiscreen TV Experiences

Following our Digital Video Forecast presentation at the TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) Show in SF, the Head of Digital Products for Pac-12 Networks, Ryan Currier, and the Senior Manager Digital Research and Analytics at Shaw Media, Chris Hopkins, answered some key questions about deploying multiscreen TV experiences.

Watch a recording of the panel discussion to hear directly from Ryan and Chris their answers to questions including:

  • With the device landscape changing so rapidly, how do you prioritize getting onto all the different devices?
  • Everyone is talking about data. What is Shaw Media doing with audience data?
  • Which revenue models are important to Shaw Media and Pac-12 Networks?
  • How does viewership across devices vary by demo?
  • How are you thinking about programmatic?
  • Are buyers clambering for a new currency?
  • What does the TV of tomorrow look like?

The discussion hit on a few key takeaways. First, that quality is an essential consideration when rolling out TV experiences across devices. Second, that data went from a value add to table stakes. Third, that multiscreen experiences matter to all demos, not just Millennials. Be sure to watch the whole panel discussion in the video above.