Adobe Punches Up 'TV Everywhere' System After Olympics Workout

Vendor Touts Enablement of 88 Million Authenticated Streams for NBCU London Games

Adobe Systems is introducing a second wave of major new features for its TV Everywhere platform -- including tools to make signing in easier for consumers -- after testing out elements of the 2.0 version with NBCUniversal during record-setting online-video viewing of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Adobe Pass 2.0's enhancements include: auto-authentication using cable modems; an option to present a temporary free preview to subscribers who don't know or have forgotten their passwords; improved scalability; and a forthcoming server-side application programming interface, said senior product manager Todd Greenbaum.

The company, whose Flash multimedia player is widely used for online video, first introducedAdobe Pass in March 2011. The system now is integrated with 150 cable, satellite and telco TV operators, which serve 98% of U.S. households.

This summer, Adobe Pass supported NBC Olympics' verification efforts for its coverage of the London Olympics, which resulted in more than 88 million authenticated streams served to about 7 million U.S. households -- believed to be the biggest single TV Everywhere event to date.

For the Summer Games, Comcast and Cablevision Systems were the two operators that used the Adobe Pass auto-authentication feature, which verifies subscribers based on the IP or MAC (media access control) address of their cable modem. The MSOs had login success rates that were 23% higher than pay TV operators that didn't take advantage of the capability. According to Comcast, on some daysauto-authentications were more than half of all logins.

NBCU, meanwhile, used the new "free preview" feature offers consumers temporary access to premium TV content online for a two-hour window. That was to aid customers "if they didn't know their credentials right off the bat," Greenbaum said. Some operators provided gave customers the option of entering their email address to retrieve their password after granting the free preview.

With Adobe Pass 2.0, the company is providing better failover and redundancy features and live monitoring so programmer partners can see the "real-time health on a per-operator basis," Greenbaum said.

This fall, Adobe Pass will introduce a server-side API to let content providers integrate the authentication capabilities within native applications -- including on connected TVs and other devices -- rather than requiring the vendor's software development kit.

In addition, Adobe is developing features to limit the number of concurrent streams and devices allowed per account, to cut down on unauthorized sharing of usernames and passwords, Greenbaum said.

On the content side, Adobe Pass supports about 40 sites and mobile apps from 25 top programmers. Networks that use Adobe Pass include ESPN, Fox, CNN, TNT, MTV and Disney.

HBO is the most notable programmer offering TV Everywhere that is not using Adobe Pass. Instead, the premium programmer works directly with affiliates to provide authentication for its HBO Go website and mobile apps.

In the first six months of 2012, the number of video streams authenticated by Adobe Pass increased tenfold (though the company would not disclose how many streams total it processed). High-profile TV Everywhere events in the first half of the year included NCAA March Madness, UEFA Euro 2012 soccer and the NBA playoffs.

Campbell Foster, director of product marketing for Adobe's video and ad solutions, said the two remaining barriers to broad adoption of TV Everywhere at this point are consumer awareness of the services agreements between operators and programmers.

"The infrastructure is in place to support authenticated content," he said.

Adobe Pass is a component of Adobe Primetime, which brings together the vendor's video publishing, streaming, DRM, authentication, advertising and analytics capabilities. The company expects to have full integration of all major components of Primetime before the end of 2012 with support for Windows, Mac OS, Apple iOS, Google Android and other platforms.