Adobe’s Project Pipeline could bring broadcast TV online

There’s many who can’t help but hope that the evolution of alternative television channels and online show streaming to devices including your TV will at last spell the kiss of death to annoying advertising, unfortunately this is going to remain a premium experience, there’s too much cash in the ads market for broadcasters to resist its allure. Now Adobe has a plan to make it simple to cash in on content.

[ABOVE: Peter Hirshberg caught some of television’s future in this 2008 TED talk.]

Down the pipe(line)

The company’s latest move comes within its Project Pipeline platform, to which Adobe recently added the capacity to insert ads and to handle streaming, rights and content prep for all devices.

Just like conventional television, Adobe’s new ad insertion service dynamically places ads inside content. These ads insertion tools are coupled with the kind of depth of audience profiling and analytics information you can only draw from a connected audience.

There’s good and bad in this: privacy advocates will be unhappy at the depth of detail broadcasters will be able to yield from such solutions; while others will welcome that those ads they do end up enduring will be for products and services more closely matched to their interests.

The new tools also include Adobe’s Primetime Media Player, a solution which: “Allows TV content owners and distributors to maximize audience reach and ensure that all experiences are immediately monetizable through seamless ad insertion and analytics,” the company admits in a press release.

The presentation of these tools within a suite already suited to the provision of broadcast content to multiple devices is a useful step for broadcasters eager to maintain their margins.

Pipe the changes

In October an ABI Research report warned that nearly 20 percent of online consumers consider online video as a replacement for PayTV. That’s true, but a wholesale migration to streaming is a big, big risk to the existing ecosystem — it threatens as much as $16.8 billion of traditional operator revenues in the US, the report warned.

[BELOW: Blondie’s take on too much television. ]

The analysts advise existing stakeholders in this space to invest in new ways to reach audiences, including over-the-top (OTT) experiences, such as streaming channels and services such as Netflix or Lovefilm. To succeed, such investments need to offer consumers exactly what they want when they want — they won’t be satisfied with old content and ancient subtitled Chinese martial arts movies.

Speaking to Beet.tv, Adobe VP Jeremy Helfland noted that many of the new features within this release are based on what the company found working with the BBC on Olympic coverage this summer.

“We saw a real consumer demand to deliver content on devices and on TV, and we learned a lot about how consumers are using both desktop as well as devices from a time-shifting perspective…and we learned about which devices are used at different times,” he said.

Adobe’s move to provide tools to enable traditional business models within the evolving streaming ecosystem is bound to encourage incumbents to become less risk averse when it comes to offering their content.

Mutate and survive

With Google, Apple and Microsoft all gearing up to enhance their television offering via the Internet, it seems inevitable broadcasters will be looking to solutions such as this new package from Adobe as they attempt to stake a place in the growing streaming audience, as it enables them — theoretically, at least — to offer virtually the same broadcast experience, underpinned with a wider choice and enhanced viewer autonomy without at the same time losing precious revenue.

There’s already signs suggesting that, if done right, streaming television doesn’t need to pulverize the existing industry. The BBC’s iPlayer service isn’t truly a great example of this, as that content is available for free in the UK under that provider’s licensing charter…Time Warner, on the other hand, is a great example.

Time Warner is one of the other forward-thinking broadcasters, and a recent statement from CEO, Jeff Bewkes, suggests that the company’s beginning to see good returns from its relationships with streaming service providers, Netflix and Amazon.

Why?

Because the group made $100 million from those two partners in its third quarter, meaning company’s are already seeing good profits through a combination of selling streaming rights and taking a split of the ads yield.

Different strokes

That’s not good for everybody. Cable television firms can see the writing on the wall as they mutate from being content providers into nothing more than bandwidth delivery services. Their most recent move in the game has been to pool resources to set up a research lab designed to reinvigorate cable television.

Given that these services all sit on the same networks, it seems likely part of this reinvigoration will include a focus on delivering content in uber-HD, more advanced, unified user interfaces, and the creation of closed network-only social media services which enable immediate communication, show preference votes and face-top-face video calls while shows are running. All those things are theoretically available already, but it seems inevitable cableco’s will seek to show the durability of their networks.

What’s this mean for content creators?

More of the same, really, but primarily as the sources for broadcast content diversify independent media now has a better chance to be seen by a wider set of eyes.

At least in theory, because independents will have to work hard to ensure they’re visible through the up-and-coming socially based content schedule sharing and user reviews services.

Such services will increasingly emerge as the gatekeepers to creating identity within an increasingly choice-driven broadcast ecosystem. After all, sometimes too much choice drives people to take fewer, rather than more, risks. Which for television’s people could threaten increased hogomenity and less diversification, an utter irony as the tech gets everywhere…

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