Live From London: Adobe Keeps Fans in the Know on Both Sides of the Pond
In order to be surprised by the men’s 200m IM swimming final or the women’s all-around gymnastics result, some stateside viewers may choose to avoid news media, ignore the Internet, and cut off all contact with friends until primetime. But there’s an easier way. For the first time ever, NBC Olympics is streaming every lap, vault, and match live to mobile devices, thanks to a partnership with Adobe.
The NBC Olympics Live Extra and NBC Olympics apps — available for the iPad, iPhone, and selected Android tablets and smartphones — are powered by Adobe and provide a wide range of content, including live streams of all competitive events, video highlights, medal ceremonies, interviews, news, and more.
“We’re amazed really at the breadth of technologies that are being used across the [Olympics] from an Adobe standpoint,” says Ashley Still, director of product management, Adobe. “Adobe worked very closely with NBC to actually build the mobile app experience, the [user interface], the navigation, and, obviously, the interaction.”
The apps were built using a number of Adobe technologies, including Creative Suite 6, Acrobat, Flash Builder, and Flex. Essential to the building of the apps, however, was Adobe AIR, the company’s mobile-application framework that enables NBC Olympics to reuse existing code across multiple platforms rather than build native applications for each device.
In order to use the NBC Olympics Live Extra app (the NBC Olympics app serves as a companion app), users must subscribe to a cable package that includes CNBC and MSNBC. By leveraging Adobe Pass, NBC Olympics is integrated with more than 100 pay-TV operators in the U.S. and requires users to provide their subscription login and password only once to access live content throughout the Olympics.
“We’re helping power that authentication for the live apps,” says Still. “[One] of the great things that we implemented in time for the Olympics, if you have Comcast or Cablevision [and] you have Internet access from those providers and you’re at home, then the authentication automatically happens.”
Adobe is also powering video-ad insertion through Auditude and digital analytics through SiteCatalyst. Throughout the two weeks of competition, NBC Olympics can measure user traffic and engagement with all aspects of the two apps and improve the experience if need be.
“Obviously, advertising is critical for monetizing media content,” says Still. “Many of our customers are spending a lot of time around the problem of how do you make sure that you can monetize your content with a great user experience so that there isn’t buffering [and] that the video playback doesn’t fail. You don’t want to lose a viewer because [a video] wasn’t delivered. We really feel that we’ve delivered a TV-like experience, where the content and the ads are completely seamless.”
In the UK, the BBC is leveraging Adobe’s Project Primetime to deliver live and video-on-demand to mobile devices. Instead of building its mobile-application framework using Adobe AIR, the BBC is delivering content through an HTML5-based app built with Adobe PhoneGap. Like Adobe AIR, PhoneGap also allows code to be leveraged across multiple platforms, rather than necessitating the building of native applications.
The BBC’s digital coverage of the London Olympics includes 24 live Internet-only video streams and three BBC broadcast feeds, giving users the choice among 27 channels of content. Adobe Media Server prepares the content through the HTTP Dynamic Streaming format and the HTTP Live Streaming format to stream live and on-demand video across desktops, connected TVs, and iOS devices.
“[The BBC] obviously has a significant broadcast infrastructure, and they have cameras at all these events. What we enable them to do is take their broadcast feeds — all of these start as broadcast feeds — and convert them into the format that you need to stream over the Internet,” says Still. “Adobe deals with the complexity of taking the broadcast content and making it suitable for all of the different device platforms.”
BBC is also making use of Adobe’s Primetime Highlights, which powers the conversion of live content to on-demand video highlights. Through Primetime Highlights, the BBC can ingest pre-encoded video streams and transform them into clips with full adaptive-bitrate support and little turnaround time.
“Say you want to watch the volleyball match in its entirety on demand,” Still explains. “BBC is using Primetime Highlights to basically create that on-demand asset. Once the volleyball match is over, the BBC can publish that literally within minutes. So, if you just realized that volleyball’s over, you don’t have to wait until the next day for the BBC to post that on-demand content. You literally have to wait minutes.”