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Adobe & thePlatform Tie TVE Knot

Alan Breznick
4/10/2014
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LAS VEGAS — After working together informally on multiscreen video rollouts for years, thePlatform and Adobe have formalized their relationship by striking a co-promotion deal and integrating many of their TV Everywhere products in a joint portfolio.

thePlatform Inc. , a white-label media publishing company owned by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) unveiled their "strategic relationship" this week at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention here. The two companies said they will team up to sell the Adobe Primetime platform and thePlatform's video management system as part of "an end-to-end IP video solution" for both TV programmers and distributors.

The companies said they will receive incentives to drive business for each other. Under the non-exclusive agreement, both partners are still free to sell their products separately to customers. Adobe and thePlatform executives said that some media companies still prefer to build their own video management systems with individual elements pieced together from different vendors.

But the partners also said they intend to join forces much, if not most, of the time to promote their bundled offerings together and to help customers deploy multiscreen services faster and easier. They said they have built up considerable trust by working side by side on a number of TVE deployments for common customers over nearly a decade, including NBC Universal 's multiscreen coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. (See Adobe Preps for Sochi Games.)

"One of the exciting things is that we have a common vision and view of where the television industry is heading," said Ashley Still, director of project management for Adobe, which also introduced an upgraded version of Primetime at the NAB show. "Now we have skin in the game and are definitely making a bet on each other."

Specifically, the deal calls for thePlatform to contribute its signature mpx video management system to the partnership effort. This cloud-based video workflow management system will enable joint customers to publish video for playback on Adobe's Primetime video players, create custom video players for different devices, ingest video, dynamically update online video changes, manage and enhance metadata of all video assets, and set viewing rights, playback authorization, and monetization policies for content, among other things.

Adobe will contribute its flagship Primetime TV delivery and monetization platform to the venture. Among other things, Primetime will add management of subscriber authentication, digital rights management, ad insertion techniques, data analytics services, and service quality monitoring to the combined offering.

"Nobody else is an analog of what Primetime is," said Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform. Both companies have "open frameworks, so they're relatively easy to integrate."

Blaine and Still conceded that the two companies face several challenges in making their partnership work. Those challenges include finding ways of serving the ever-growing number of video-capable devices, hitting every available window for different types of video releases, and measuring the actual audience reach of multiscreen video services. Without such effective audience measurement, they said, the monetization of TVE services will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

Nevertheless, with second-screen viewing rising rapidly on tablets, smartphones, and other newer video devices, the executives don't seem too worried about proving there's a sizable multiscreen audience out there. Further, in spite of initial industry concerns that the second and third screens might draw viewers away from the home TV screen, the executives are not worried about multiscreen video services sapping the traditional TV viewing audience anymore. (See Nielsen: Multiscreen Viewing Taking Off.)

"Devices are really additive to the overall TV experience," Still said. "Online TV is not cannibalizing TV." Instead, it is "enabling completely new models of TV watching, like binge viewing."

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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Ariella,
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