4 Trends Shaping the Future of Television

With this year’s NAB and INTX shows now behind us, we’re taking a moment to consider a few areas within the pay-TV and broadcast industry with considerable momentum or challenges to surmount. The abandoned Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger has been making headlines and appears to be more about the Internet than TV. In fact, the impact of internet technologies like OTT and cloud-based delivery on the industry is becoming more and more obvious. It’s even heightening consumer expectations for personalized programming streams, quick access to theatrical releases and unified discovery across TV services. Here we’ve summarized these trends that are shaping the future of television.

  1. Broadcasters are embracing the cloud

When one of the big three television networks that has dominated U.S. television since the 1950s publicly declares that it has moved to the cloud, it’s pretty safe to say that others will follow. At this year’s NAB Show, Broadcasting & Cable reports that in a supersession titled, “Television’s Transition to an All-IP Future—Why It’s a Big Deal,” Disney chief technology officer Vince Roberts “explained that they had already adopted cloud based technologies to handle the delivery of content to digital platforms like the Watch ABC app. ‘The only ways to automate those process and the only way to scale and be device agnostic was cloud-based,’ said Roberts.”

Charter Communications is also bullish on the cloud and is investing in a cloud-based interface for its WorldBox. According to DSLReports.com, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said, “this makes every box in the Charter footprint state-of-the-art. Smart networks make dumb screens smart. We can take any kind of device and make it a sophisticated device.”

  1. Millennials are the future — and they love streaming

New survey data shows that the youngest millennials prefer streaming video to linear TV. Specifically, more millennials age 14-25 value streaming video sources over cable and satellite TV, according to the ninth edition of the Deloitte “Digital Democracy Survey” released this April. By the percentages, 72% value streaming video sources while only 58% value cable and satellite TV. This is quite different than the older cohort of millennials age 26-31, among whom 63% value streaming video sources and 75% value cable and satellite TV.

NetNewsCheck reports on a “millennial problem” for local TV whereby “most millennials just don’t give a damn about local TV.” The article suggests a number of solutions including developing content that appeals to millennials and distributing it across platforms, including OTT.

  1. Will day-and-date come to TV Everywhere?

The IP-delivery of movies is influencing the traditional movie release cycle. One example of this is day-and-date video on demand (VOD) whereby consumers pay to see a film at home while it’s still playing in the theaters. Variety reports the results of a survey by RBC Capital Markets, which states that 7% of consumer respondents were willing to pay $11-$15 for day-and-date VOD access; 4% were willing to pay $16-$20; and 3% were willing to pay $21 or more.

In a recent white paper, Juniper Research describes the typical movie release cycle as going from cinema distribution to DVD/Blu-ray to pay-per-view to pay TV and finally to free-to-air distribution. Following this model, day-and-date could skip VOD and go directly to pay TV as a form of exclusive content. We know that movie content has the fastest rate of unique visitor growth in TV Everywhere at 216% YOY, according to Adobe Digital Index. Day-and-date could be an interesting way to drive TV Everywhere viewership. TechHive offers a recent and comprehensive pro and con exploration of day-and-date releases.

  1. Innovating the TV user interface

Internet technologies are making it easier to execute innovations around the TV user interface and the pace of innovation is rapid. Crackle is introducing an “Always On” stream of television programming customized to the viewer exclusively on Roku this month, with other platforms to follow. Netflix is planning a new user interface for its television apps later this year that executives say will “bring video playback forward into the browse experience.” New research by Amdocs and IE Market Research suggests that the user interface is the key to making pay-tv work with OTT. LightReading reports, “51% of North American consumers planning to cancel or reduce their pay-TV subscriptions would maintain their monthly spend if service providers offered a unified interface for searching, discovering and watching both pay-TV and OTT content.”

These trends point to a bright future for consumers of television content. Things like cloud-based delivery, personalized programming streams, quick access to theatrical releases and unified discovery across TV services are either already here or not far down the road. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.


Ramp Up on Closed Captions Fast with “Introduction to Closed Captions”

Closed captions should be easy. They’re just words on the screen. However, they’re actually quite complex. 13 major caption formats have come about in response to regulatory policies and the differing technical landscapes of analog, digital, and online TV. Our technical paper provides a primer on these dominant caption formats and describes how Adobe Primetime enhances closed captioning workflows.

Today, closed captions are an integral part of delivering TV programming to U.S. consumers on any screen. Regulations in the U.S. require closed captions for all television programs, even those redistributed to the Internet.

Our goal with Adobe Primetime is to make it easy for TV providers to extend the reach of closed captions to all platforms. Robust closed captioning support is a key component of the Primetime TVSDK, which uses the 608 over 708 and WebVTT caption formats to extend the reach of premium content to browsers (including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari) and devices (including iOS, Android, Xbox One and Roku). Anyone using our TVSDK, including TV providers embracing MPEG-DASH, will easily get their captions delivered to all these devices and browsers.

To learn more, check out Adobe Primetime’s “Introduction to Closed Captions” technical paper.

New Technical Paper: “Optimizing ‘Start to Playback’ Performance”

In the Adobe Primetime forums, we noticed that application developers wanted best practices for making the initial playback and channel switching experience of their protected streams as fast as possible. It’s a worthy endeavor because fast video startup time is what viewers expect when watching premium content online.

In response, we have published a new technical paper, “Optimizing ‘Start to Playback’ performance with Adobe Access content,” which outlines five best practices for optimizing the time between when a viewer selects content and when it begins to play. We invite Adobe Primetime application developers to use these best practices.

The paper addresses the basic challenge that protected content takes more time to begin playback then unprotected content because it must be queued up in a cryptographically secure manner. The secure setup takes three steps with Adobe Primetime, each of which has one or more possible optimizations available for developers to improve video startup time. By implementing one or more of these options, you can shave seconds off your video startup time.

To access all the methods to optimize video startup time, download the technical paper from Adobe Developer Connection’s “What’s new” section  or get the PDF directly here.

Be sure to continue to provide your input in the forums. The Adobe Primetime team participates in the conversations that are happening and aims to provide helpful resources, like this technical paper, to help you deliver a seamless viewing experience.

Red Bull Media House and Turner Broadcasting Preview Joint Technology Solution from Akamai and Adobe Primetime

Akamai has integrated Adobe Primetime ad insertion capabilities into its network in an effort to simplify and improve the way online video ads are delivered. The server-side advertising offering is designed to combine the scale of Akamai’s global CDN with the reach of Adobe Primetime and its ad insertion technology.

Red Bull Media House and Turner Broadcasting are already in the early stages of trialing the new solution as part of a technology preview.

“The quality of the content Red Bull Media House produces and delivers is intrinsically connected to its value,” said Andi Gall CTO, Red Bull Media House. “The collaboration with Akamai and Adobe simplifies online video ad delivery, and helps Red Bull Media House effectively monetize its content across platforms and devices.”

Akamai and Adobe have a history of successful collaboration on some of the world’s largest online events to date, including Super Bowls, the Olympics, World Cup and March Madness among many others. Having played critical roles in bringing online video to ubiquity, the companies are now leveraging their collective experience and expertise to help simplify advertising across devices and platforms.

Server-side ad insertion, in which advertisements are stitched into content at the network level, is intended to offer numerous benefits to advertisers, content providers and consumers, including:

  • Monetization opportunities of TV content on any screen, in any format, with any ad decision technology
  • Reliability and limitless scale for linear broadcast-size television audiences
  • Increased device reach with faster time to market
  • Improved viewing experiences and resiliency to ad blocking
  • Enhanced operational visibility thru analytics

Read the official announcement here to learn about these benefits in more detail.

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.

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.


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.


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.