Sony and Adobe Partnership Powers a Revolutionary Multi-Platform TV Viewing Experience

Today, Sony announced the exciting details of a new “Always On” experience for Sony Crackle that will take advantage of Adobe Primetime’s audience-based selling capabilities across IP-connected screens and tight integration with other products in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, such as Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Analytics.

Sony Crackle is a multi-platform video entertainment network that streams full-length Hollywood movies, TV shows and original web shows to viewers for free. Its innovative new design combines the curated experience of on-demand streaming with the simplicity of an “Always On” programmed TV experience. As soon as a viewer launches the new Crackle, a scheduled program will immediately begin playing. Consumers can watch what’s currently playing or browse for something that suits them even better in the newly created channel guide.

Sony Crackle’s hybrid programmed and on-demand experience is revolutionary. Most TV viewing experiences focus on either a really good on-demand experience or a really good programmed experience. Crackle has struck a unique balance between the two experiences. Its new “Always On” experience will roll out exclusively on the Roku platform in May and expand to cover a variety of other platforms throughout the summer. The service comes at a time when over-the-top (OTT) video consumption is surging. Premium video viewing on OTT devices has increased 350 percent year-over-year. And OTT devices and game consoles are the fasting growing TV Everywhere platforms. (LINK)

Sony has partnered with Adobe to power key aspects of Sony Crackle’s playback, personalization and ad measurement. The Primetime TV SDK will ensure HD content playback, seamless transitions between content and ads across all programmed and on-demand streams, and scalability across platforms beginning with Roku. The integration between Adobe Primetime and Adobe Audience Manager will help Sony refine audience segmentation, reduce ad impression waste by 40-50% and serve content that is based on the viewer’s interest. The integration between Adobe Primetime and Adobe Analytics will be used to measure ads consistently beyond the desktop and across all platforms. Overall, the technology is in place for a multi-platform TV viewing experience that viewers want to spend time with, that advertisers want to advertise on, and that drives effective monetization for Adobe.

The Adobe Primetime team is especially excited about the positive impact this partnership will have on viewers and advertisers. Viewers will get a free, targeted, personalized “Always On” viewing experience to enjoy TV content wherever, whenever they want while Sony’s refined audience segments will help advertisers reach the specific audiences that will elevate their campaign success.

Read the official announcement here.

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How We’ve Architected Adobe Primetime for TV Everywhere’s Growth

The first step in the TV Everywhere viewing experience, the authentication step, must be as flawless as possible. Content programmers and pay-TV providers don’t want authentication issues to stand in the way of subscribers accessing content they paid for. So, we’ve enhanced the service architecture for Adobe Primetime to provide the most robust authentication system possible for TV Everywhere. The enhancements we’ve made are helping delivering smooth, reliable authentication experiences even at peak levels of concurrent video starts.

Our “four nines” service availability

Adobe Primetime authentication (formerly Adobe Pass) handles the vast majority of all TV Everywhere authentications and has an audience coverage of 98% in the US and 95% in Canada. It’s available at the very high “four nines” level of service, which means that it can authenticate viewers with less than 4 minutes of service downtime every month.

Ready for growth

Our enhancements come in preparation for two kinds of TV Everywhere growth. First, we anticipate that overall growth will continue. According to Adobe Digital Index, unique TV Everywhere viewers increased 117% from 2013 to 2014 and authenticated TV Everywhere video starts increased 266%. Second, we expect an increase in the peak levels of concurrent video starts. There are already explosive concurrent video starts around big events like the Olympics, March Madness and World Cup. The peak numbers are only going to get bigger, especially with new tools like our push notifications for mobile applications, which can simultaneously invite millions of subscribers to authenticate and watch the same live stream at the same time.

Less latency, more stability with our robust service architecture

There’s a number of architecture improvements that we’ve made to make Adobe Primetime the most robust authentication system possible.

We’ve graduated Adobe Primetime authentication from using a single, main data center with a failover reserve to a multiple data center footprint that operates from both coasts in the United States. The new footprint is reducing latency by using the data center that’s the closest to each viewer to respond to authentication requests.

We’ve also introduced real time operational analytics of entitlement transactions, which relies on big data storage technologies like Hadoop and HBase. All infrastructure operations were fully automated and product releases happen now without any impact on the end-user experience. This has helped us upgrade components of our architecture with modern technology that’s more appropriate for the scale of the use case that we’re serving.

Less service interruptions, more reliability with our intelligent service architecture

We’ve also upgraded our services architecture to improve our early warning notifications, outage protection, and live event monitoring.

We’re now anticipating and fixing technical issues before they have any visible effect on our customers or their subscribers. We use an on-call process that takes advantage of our significant investment in an early warning and monitoring system. The system automatically alerts on-call engineers about possible issues so they can respond quickly. This improves uptime and service excellence for customers authenticating through their pay-TV providers.

We can keep authentication and streaming working for TV Everywhere viewers, even when there’s a temporary service disruption with their pay-TV provider’s online authentication system. Our enterprise-grade outage protection service can temporarily and seamlessly take over the authentication and authorization of transactions for a pay-TV provider. This gives the network the time to fix the issue on their side without any disruption to customers. When everything is fixed, we seamlessly return the entitlement back to our customer’s system.

We’re also able to monitor customer applications during their important live events with the same rigor that we monitor our own systems. With live event monitoring, we aim to anticipate and fix any technical issues with a customer’s system that crops up during a major, planned surge of traffic. Live event monitoring can work hand-in-hand with outage protection to make the highest profile TV events reach TV Everywhere subscribers without a hitch.

The right partner for TV Everywhere success

We’ve made big investments across our systems and services architecture to provide the most robust authentication system possible for TV Everywhere. We’ve achieved “four nines” on our side of the TV Everywhere equation.

We’re also helping pay-tv providers with stability and reliability on their side, too. Any content programmer or pay-TV provider that’s forecasting increased audiences or planning for a big live event should look into our outage protection and live event monitoring. Through partnership, we can provide a great experience for TV Everywhere viewers.

By Cris Radu, Director of Engineering, Adobe Systems

Major League Baseball and “Over-The-Top” Content Providers Adopt Adobe Primetime

Next week at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, Adobe is showcasing the latest innovations in Adobe Primetime and Creative Cloud video tools. Adobe Primetime is unveiling enhancements in video delivery, monetization and personalization to enable new over-the-top (OTT) business models for content owners, programmers and pay-TV providers.

Advancing TV delivery and monetization – Launch video- up to four times faster!

The latest version of Adobe Primetime helps broadcasters and pay-TV providers scale video delivery across screens with closed captioning, robust content protection, and ad insertion instantly across TV apps and operating systems. The platform can now authenticate 2.25 million viewers per minute, three times more than just a year ago, and deliver dramatic performance improvements with videos launching instantly – up to four times faster than before. Additionally, Adobe Primetime now supports all major third-party digital rights management (DRM) technologies to address the challenge of content protection in closed playback environments.

Innovative OTT programming – Partnering with MLBAM and Turner Broadcasting

Adobe is partnering with service solution providers, including industry pioneer MLBAM, to offer innovative OTT programming for live, linear and video-on-demand services across TVs and screens everywhere. MLBAM achieved its pioneer status by releasing the Internet’s first OTT product in 2002, MLB.TV, which is now delivering a record number of streams. Today, MLBAM provides everything from vast backend infrastructure to the development and operational management of custom, multi-platform applications. Several of MLBAM’s sports, news and entertainment partners have introduced their first direct-to-consumer TV apps leveraging Adobe Primetime technologies. Adobe is also working with MLBAM to power live streaming of the Major League Baseball season, providing playback and delivery capabilities for all games. Additionally, Turner Broadcasting is using Adobe Primetime for ad insertion on Apple TV and other OTT devices.

Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president and CTO at MLBAM says, “Since MLB.TV was born as the internet’s first OTT product 13 years ago, we have remained focused on building reliable, highly engaging live TV viewing experiences at true broadcast scale. Adobe Primetime, with its support for DRM, the industry-standard authentication capability and robust HD video playback allows us to offer consistent video experiences across more than 400 devices, including the latest breed of OTT products.”

We’re excited to be working with leaders like MLBAM and Turner Broadcasting to deliver a rapid pace of innovation in video delivery, monetization and personalization. We hope to see you at the NAB Show next week!

Adobe Primetime’s Audience-Based Selling Advantage

Audience-based selling is one of the next logical steps for broadcasters, cable networks, and pay-TV providers that are delivering TV across IP-connected screens. To empower audience-based selling, we’re continuously expanding Adobe Primetime’s capabilities in this area and strengthening its integration with other Adobe Marketing Cloud products including Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Analytics

Here’s a recap of some of our latest product developments:

Audience-based forecasting, targeting and reporting – Adobe Primetime helps TV providers expand beyond using content as a proxy for audience with an audience-centric approach to ad monetization. Our latest features make it easy to forecast, target and report on any combination of audience segment, device, key value, content, site, time, and more. These capabilities, which no other solution can match, help TV providers increase the value of their inventory.

Integration with audience creation and audience management tools – The Adobe Marketing Cloud is empowering TV providers to define and sell the audiences that advertisers want to buy. TV providers can manage their audiences in any Adobe Marketing Cloud product like Adobe Audience Manager or Adobe Analytics. From there, they can seamlessly import and use their audiences in Adobe Primetime. Adobe Audience Manager offers full data management capabilities, including buying data from third parties and ingesting audiences, all of which can be part of the audience selling processes through Adobe Primetime.

Cross-device frequency capping for authenticated streams – When a TV providers’ viewers use the same login credentials across devices, Adobe Primetime can identify them as unique and use this information to improve the viewer experience with device-level and user-level frequency capping of ads and ad experiences. TV providers can use these frequency capping options to reduce the risk of viewer burnout and increase viewer engagement.

Measure de-duplicated unique users and reach across unique devices – Adobe Primetime uses census-based data to help TV providers understand the number of devices and de-duplicated unique users exposed to any given campaign or slice of inventory. This gives TV providers the option to share these insights with advertisers.

These product developments give broadcasters, cable networks, and pay-TV providers the foundation they need for audience-based selling.

 

Written by Atul Shrivastava, Adobe Primetime Product Manager, Ad Decisioning

Highlights from Adobe Digital Index’s U.S. Digital Video 2014 Inaugural Report

Adobe Digital Index’s U.S. Digital Video 2014 Inaugural Report report is now available. This report helps broadcasters, cable networks, and distributors anticipate and plan for the changes taking place in how consumers view video. The report covers TV Everywhere and online video viewership trends.

Key points include:

  • TV Everywhere grew significantly in 2014. Unique viewers increased 117% YOY and authenticated video starts increased 266% YOY.
  • As of Q4 2014, gaming consoles and OTT devices now make up 16% of TV Everywhere authentications.
  • Video viewing on mobile devices will overtake desktop video viewing by Q4 2016.

Net/Net: In 2015, consider optimizing the TV Everywhere experience for gaming console and OTT devices and the online video experience for mobile.

Read on for more details from the U.S. Digital Video 2014 Inaugural Report.

TV Everywhere highlights

2014 was the year that TV Everywhere was picked up by the early adopters; in 2015 it could “Cross the Chasm” to the early majority stage. The following key TV Everywhere highlights show you just how big TV Everywhere has become and highlight areas of further growth.

  1. There’s more people watching more content than ever before via TV Everywhere. On average, 13 million viewers tuned into TV Everywhere services in 2014, up 117% from 6 million in 2013. 2014 saw 2.1 billion authenticated video starts, up 266% from 574 million in 2013.
  2. Graph-2lGraph-2kGaming console and over-the-top (OTT) devices are taking a bite out of the iOS share of TV Everywhere authentications. Gaming console and OTT device share of authentications rose 50% YOY from 11% in Q4 2013 to 16% in Q4 2014. iOS share of authentications dropped 21% YOY from 57% in Q4 2013 to 45% in Q4 2014.
  3. Graph-2eSports content has the most unique visitors in TV Everywhere with 3.2 times as many unique visitors as movie content. However, movie content has the fastest rate of unique visitor growth at a 216% YOY rate of growth.

Graph-2n

Online video highlights

The biggest trend in online video is mobile video viewing. The following key online video highlights predict when mobile video viewing will be bigger than desktop video viewing and highlight related video viewing metrics.

  1. Mobile device video viewing may overtake desktop video viewing by Q4 2016. In Q4 2014, 15% of online video starts took place on smart phones and 12% took place on tablets for a total of 27% of online video starts taking place in mobile. In just two years, this could increase to 50.2%.
  2. Graph-2bSmartphone completion rates are up. The new, larger-screen iPhone release in Q4 2014 gave smart phone video completion rates a slight boost with the percent of videos reaching the “50% complete” point on smart phones increasing 7% over the Q3 2014 video completion rates.
  3. Graph-2cTime spent metrics are up for online video across all devices. Time spent viewing video on a smart phone is up to 24% QoQ. Time spent viewing video on a tablet is up to 16% QoQ. Desktop average video view time is now 16 times longer than the average smart phone video view time, versus the 17 times difference in Q3.

Graph-2d

Get the rest of the insights from the U.S. Digital Video 2014 Inaugural Report via the free download here.

Adobe Primetime Takes Home Cablefax Tech Award

­Today, we attended the Cablefax Digital, Tech and Trailer Awards breakfast in New York City along with our industry cohorts. We’re thrilled to announce that Adobe Primetime was honored with a Cablefax Tech Award in the “TV Everywhere/Authentication System” category. Cablefax’s Tech Awards recognize the forward-thinking tech gurus continually revolutionizing cable technology with amazing products, campaigns and partnerships. Thank you to the Cablefax judges for validating Adobe Primetime’s work helping broadcasters, cable networks and service providers create, deliver and monetize engaging and personalized TV experiences across screens.

Cable fax 1

Additionally, Cablefax honored individuals named to The Digital Hot List 2015, which “recognizes executives shepherding innovation and progress in social media, digital distribution, app development, web content, technology strategy, TV Everywhere/authentication and other cutting-edge multiplatform projects.” He’s already on Adobe’s hot list, but we’re proud to see our own Jens Loeffler, principal technical evangelist, acknowledged again by Cablefax for his industry achievements via Adobe Primetime. Congrats, Jens, and to all of our industry colleagues for this recognition!

Cable fax blog pic 2

It’s an exciting time for Adobe Primetime and the industry and we’re not slowing down. We have some exciting solution updates along with customer and partner momentum coming at The NAB Show (April 13-16) so stay tuned and hope to see you there.

Adobe Primetime, Marketing Cloud and the Future of TV: Personalized, Portable, Profitable

Primetime

It’s official: Adobe Primetime is the 7th Adobe Marketing Cloud solution.

Although marketing teams – digital, direct response, brand, email, inbound, outbound, product, or otherwise – don’t typically think about TV and film delivery and monetization, marketers at broadcasters, cable networks, and pay-TV service providers care deeply about the quality of the multiscreen TV viewing experience – and about the audience insights they can gather from it. Adobe Primetime delivers both: highly engaging, personalized viewing experiences on every screen, and actionable audience insights via a turnkey integration with Adobe Analytics.

Marketers from media and entertainment companies wish to provide the best brand experience possible for their audience, on every screen, and consumers benefit from Adobe Primetime’s multiscreen TV platform in three key ways:

  • Access. Adobe Primetime provides early-window TV and film access through IP distribution channels. The solution enforces TV Everywhere rights agreements and meets strict Hollywood-studio mandated DRM requirements among programmers and operators.
  • Convenience. Pay-TV subscribers can view live, linear, and on-demand content at their convenience, when and where they desire.
  • Engagement. Adobe Primetime creates a personalized, better-than-TV experience, with no buffering or annoying plug-ins.

With out-of-the-box Adobe Analytics integration, the Adobe Primetime TVSDK offers a deeper understanding of what leads to desired viewing behaviors, helping marketers in media and entertainment drive awareness, tune-in, engagement and loyalty over time. The Adobe Primetime integration with Adobe Analytics gives customers of the combined solution a richer set of video metrics on the playback environment, including time-based engagement metrics with the new Analytics “heartbeats” solution. The integrated solution speeds time to market for customers looking to deploy multiscreen TV on any device alongside the industry’s leading marketing analytics solution.

For companies that generate revenue from advertising, the Adobe Primetime ad decisioning integration with Adobe Audience Manager enables audience segmentation using first-, second-, and third-party data, which can be used to personalize content and ad experiences. We’ve also rolled out other enhancements to our core ad decisioning capabilities. With the new features, media sellers can deliver targeted ads across platforms and devices, and use cross-device frequency capping to reduce inventory waste and ensure that a single user with more than one device doesn’t have to watch the same ad beyond the desired number of exposures.

With Adobe Primetime and Marketing Cloud, the future of television is bright: more personal and portable for viewers everywhere, and more profitable for media and entertainment companies than ever before.

Campbell Foster @camfoster

Expanding High Quality Viewing Experiences with MPEG-DASH

The digital TV industry is embracing MPEG-DASH, or DASH for short, in a big way, and Adobe Primetime is fully onboard with it. DASH is a standard for over-the-top (OTT) adaptive bitrate (ABR) delivery of media to any device. It is similar to other HTTP delivery specs like HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS). Proponents of DASH love it because it’s an open standard, and really flexible, too. The standard is supported by Adobe and other members of the DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF), a who’s who of streaming video industry participants. We’re proud of being able to contribute to the DASH specification, as it paves the way for higher-quality content formats, like 4K and Ultra HD, to be made available across desktops and devices.

Transitioning to DASH

DASH support aligns with a key goal for Adobe Primetime to help customers reach all platforms and devices with a single stream from their publishing workflow. At NAB 2014, we announced DASH support within our core video engine layer. We’re working right now with customers to build DASH implementations in live production environments to support millions of concurrent viewers, with full DRM and ad insertion capabilities. Over the course of 2015, we plan to incorporate DASH into all the different clients we support, with Xbox One and HTML5 player deployments at the top of the list. We’re also excited to include DASH in our latest TVSDKs.

We’re also working to ensure that there is a robust transition plan in place for customers that are interested in DASH. Our DASH support includes work to maintain the same feature sets and workflows that customers have today in the HLS world. This includes maintaining analytics, ad insertion and consistent captioning across devices in order to make life easier for customers as they begin to deploy DASH. There will also be no need to invest in new servers, as the transition should mostly involve deploying new software and making use of existing equipment.

Getting More with DASH

Adobe Primetime’s support for DASH is entirely additive. It doesn’t replace any other standards we support. It simply offers more flexibility in how our customers can approach media delivery.

We foresee customers targeting DASH to some platforms and HLS to others. By supporting both specs, DASH and HLS, Adobe Primetime will offer consistency in features and workflows no matter what our customers choose to use.

What are your plans for DASH? Let us know in the comments.

Linear and Digital TV Convergence: 3 Trends to Watch

As linear and IP-delivered television continue to converge, viewers are coming to expect to watch whatever they want, wherever they are, on any device. Here are some key trends and opportunities the media and entertainment industry is facing in 2015 and beyond:

  1.     Media companies with a deep understanding of their audience will have a competitive edge

When competing for consumer attention, companies that best understand their audience will have an edge. This may seem intuitive, but we’ve heard some of the largest media companies in the world observe that they don’t know how to use data effectively to derive meaningful insights about their own viewers.

Data can provide an understanding of viewing behaviors, both online and offline, which can power personalized experiences, content recommendations, and one-to-one advertising. Smart data management is the starting point for all these things. That’s why we believe that data management will begin to play a much bigger role in helping programmers and operators to generate a better understanding of their audience and use it to drive tune-in and engagement over time.

  1.     Alternatives to the traditional cable bundle will continue to increase viewer choice

Programmers will continue to launch direct-to-consumer offerings to capture three key opportunities. First, to gain a better understanding of their viewers. Second, to make their back catalogs available as directly monetizable VOD assets. Third, to reach cord cutters and cord nevers who can’t be reached through cable distribution agreements.

Already, CBS went direct-to-consumer with their All Access platform. Rumor has it that direct-to-consumer offerings from HBO, Showtime, Nickelodeon, and ESPN (for Cricket’s World Cup) will launch this year. Disney CEO Bob Iger has hinted at TV streaming plans for Marvel and Star Wars. We expect this trend will continue.

Another win for viewer choice will come from a new crop of a la carte services from the pay-TV providers themselves. Dish Network’s Sling TV debuted a TV service in February approaching the a la carte model. It offers a $20-a-month package with $5-a-month add-ons. Verizon has announced an intention to launch an a la carte service by mid-2015, and Cablevision is exploring strategic options for OTT. One thing is for certain — consumers stand to benefit from the fierce competition that’s only just beginning to heat up.

  1.     Pressure will be on TV programmers and operators to monetize every ad impression

As TV Everywhere and OTT continue to attract consumer attention, it will be essential for TV programmers and operators to achieve optimal ad monetization of all the views happening outside of traditional, linear TV. Traditional, linear TV will still account for the single biggest share of ad spend in 2015, with 42% of total spend, or nearly $79 billion in the U.S. However, signs of a decelerating linear TV ad market make monetization of TV Everywhere and OTT all the more important. For example, Pooja Midha, SVP Digital Ad Sales & Operations for Disney ABC TV group, reports that “traditional, linear GRPs are declining.”. Scripps Networks executive Lori Hickok reports that, “Scatter versus scatter CPM pricing across the network was flat to down low-single-digits year-over-year.” One way to mitigate these risks is to understand and monetize audience more effectively across screens and devices.

These three trends reveal a lot of action in the areas of data management, alternatives to the traditional cable bundle, and ad monetization. What big trends are you seeing? Let us know in the comments.

Granting Pay TV Subscribers Broader Access to Content

One key idea behind TV Everywhere is that if a customer has a paying relationship with a brand for one type of premium service, then that brand can reward the customer with free access to related services. Typically, this idea is used to allow pay TV subscribers to use their pay TV credentials to watch TV for free on connected devices.

Yet, the use of pay TV credentials to extend access to services can be applied much more broadly to validate access to any internet-delivered content. For example, Rogers Media recently granted free access to the digital editions of its Sportsnet Magazine on Android, iOS and Windows 8 devices to all of its Sportsnet ONE, TV Everywhere subscribers coming through either Rogers or Shaw Go. Now, millions of Sportsnet ONE subscribers get free Sportsnet Magazine content on their mobile devices.

Using pay TV credentials to access Sportsnet Magazine on an Android device

Primetime-Sportsnet-One

Granting pay TV subscribers access to magazine content was easy for Rogers Media. It was already using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to produce the Sportsnet Magazine digital editions and Adobe Primetime to power Sportsnet ONE’s TV Everywhere authentication. So, getting one login to provide access to its TV and digital editions on connected devices was a simple integration between the two Adobe solutions. Now, when Sportsnet ONE customers verify themselves in the Sportsnet Magazine iOS, Android or Windows 8 apps, they’re using Adobe Primetime’s authentication capabilities.

Integrations like what Rogers Media has done for Sportsnet demonstrate just how flexible the TV Everywhere model can be. Customers can pay once for access to content across media types and channels. This allows media companies to provide a great deal of value to loyal customers while enabling the flexibility to use alternate revenue models. For example, the Sportsnet app earns additional revenue by selling individual magazine issues to non-subscribers through an in-app purchase.