Internet TV: Redefining “Media Player”

deeje.com/musings wrote:

Internet TV: Redefining "Media Player"

One of the most frequent questions I get about Adobe Media Player is “Why?”. Why build yet another desktop media player, when the space seems crowded already?

It all began several years ago, when members of the Macromedia Contribute team started investigating a new internet delivery technology called RSS. Unlike HTML, where a viewer manually “goes” to a website via a browser application to “get” content, RSS allows a viewer to “subscribe” to a website via an aggregator application to periodically and automatically “receive” new content as it is posted. If HTML is the equivalent of going down to the local store for a newpaper or video, then RSS is equivalent to having that newspaper or video delivered to your door on a regular basis. RSS started gaining traction with blogging, which is a great way to continuously receive text-based news from specific sources, and then started incorporating multimedia in the form of audio and video podcasting. With podcasting, anyone can now create and distribute their own TV shows and periodic video content. And in theory, with more of the long tail coming online, the distinction between audience <-> remixer <-> creator is truly going to be blurred.

Concurrently, we also started tracking trends in the TV space. The use of DVRs (digital video recorders) in the US hit 20% last year, and the use of VOD (video on demand) hit 30%. Almost half of the US TV-watching population is using time-shifting technologies to watch their favorite TV shows “on-demand”, and that trend is only going to accelerate.

What we realized is that there will be a big confluence of these two trends as major TV broadcasters put more and more of their content on the Internet. Viewers want to engage their favorite video content when and where they like, while content owners large and small still need to pay the bills. And so we began building Adobe Media Player to support both of these goals.

Underneath the hood, Adobe MP is a video RSS aggregator tuned for Flash media. The UI has been designed specifically for on-demand TV-watching use cases, and with specific features for content creators like branding, advertising, measurement, and protection. We’re committed to finding the right balance of convenience, efficiency, and fun for viewers, and monetization capabilities for content owners. We’re committed to supporting the emerging ecosystem of internet TV companies, ranging from video management systems, rich media advertising providers, and hybrid content delivery networks. And this is just the beginning, a foundation on which to build on to leverage the best of Web 2.0 thinking.

As you can see, Adobe Media Player is also challenging the historical notion of the term “media player” itself. When we first started this project, we heard some say that it should just play media files, but we pushed back and said that the biggest problem we saw with first generation media players wasn’t around which media files they played back, but how users got those media files in the first place! Before RSS, viewers had to manually download files, or receive them in email attachments or on disk, and then figure out which media player to use to watch it. With RSS, the general notion of manually receiving content is eliminated, and the details of the media type is masked. Users shouldn’t be bothered with these details… they just want new episodes of their favorite TV shows, and it should just play beautifully on-demand.

So there you have it. Adobe Media Player is more than just a media player, it is a rich media aggregator that is being architected to support the emerging on-demand Internet TV ecosystem.