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Adobe Preps for Sochi Games

Mari Silbey

Gearing up for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia that start later this week, Adobe announced that NBC Olympics, part of the NBC Sports Group, has selected Adobe's Primetime TV publishing and monetization platform to power its multiscreen coverage of the games

New for this year's Olympics, Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) is adding digital ad insertion capabilities and support for NBC Universal 's app on the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) X1 IP video platform. Adobe is also adding new automatic authentication options for online viewers and a time-limited, free preview feature for viewers who don't sign in to watch the Games online with their pay-TV credentials.

Just 18 months after the 2012 Summer Olympic Games concluded in London, a lot has already changed with NBC's digital delivery of the Olympic events. The broadcaster will offer complete coverage of the Games online this year, including offering every event live as it happens. "It's only been 18 months. It hasn't even been a full two years, and we're really excited about how quickly the viewer experience continues to advance," said Ashley Still, Adobe's director of product management for video solutions.

To be sure, NBC has numerous partners helping it with video coverage of the Olympics, including Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Abrevity Inc. But, for Adobe's part, the company is implementing four specific service modules from its Primetime TV platform. These include the Primetime Player, Primetime Pay-TV Pass Authentication, Primetime Ad Insertion, and Adobe Analytics. The Primetime platform supports iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows, and Comcast X1.

Adobe's Still described the company's role as handling everything that happens once content reaches a consumer device. "We make sure that the video experience, the ad experience, is very high quality, incredibly engaging," she said.

On the advertising front, Adobe is enabling NBC to insert different ads dynamically into live and on-demand content across viewing platforms for the first time. Still noted that there's no video editing required when content makes the shift from live to VoD.

The free preview feature allows viewers to watch 30 minutes of free Olympics coverage at or via the NBC Sports Live Extra App without any authentication. After the initial viewing window, users can watch an additional five minutes of free coverage each day.

For those who subscribe to a pay-TV service, Adobe is supporting automatic authentication tied to a number of different cable operators. Both Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Comcast enabled auto-authentication for the Summer Olympics in London, but now Cox Communications Inc. , and Midcontinent Communications will offer the feature as well, while Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is working to develop the capability. When subscribers pull up NBC's coverage online via their own home networks, Adobe will register credentialed viewers and grant them automatic access to content without needing to log in again. (See Comcast Makes Home Pass.)

Meanwhile, on the Comcast X1 platform, Adobe will power the first programmer-delivered TV Everywhere app to be available on a cable set-top. Because the NBC app will offer complete live coverage of events, this will give Comcast customers the ability to watch any and all Olympics-related video over IP on their main television displays.

In conjunction with Adobe's partnership announcement with NBC, the company also released its Q4 Digital Video Benchmark Report. The report is a compilation of Adobe's analysis of 22.5 billion online video starts and 574 million TV Everywhere video streams, as well as a survey of 400 US sports viewers.

The report reveals some interesting trends in US multiscreen viewing habits. For one thing, while 42% of TV Everywhere viewing happens on tablets, both smartphones and game consoles are increasing their market share. Smartphone viewing accounted for 31% of TV Everywhere video consumption in the fourth quarter, versus 28% in the third quarter. And game consoles saw year-over-year growth in video consumption of a whopping 365%.

The Adobe report also found that sports video is the most popular TV Everywhere content. Sports viewing jumped 640% between the end of 2012 and the end of 2013 as compared to a growth rate for total TV Everywhere video streaming of 440% year over year.

Expect those numbers to jump significantly once this year's Winter Olympic Games begin on Thursday.

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— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/6/2014 | 11:59:10 AM
Re: Streaming stats
Re: Small screens and video content.  We often turn to this UK comedy clip in our design shop when this conversation comes up :)
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2014 | 6:32:26 PM
Streaming stats
I think I'm most impressed by the stat about growing smartphone viewing of video programming. Can't believe the little handsets now account for almost one-third of multiscreen viewing. As smartphones get bigger, I bet that figure could approach 50% or even higher. 
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