Adobe announced last evening that the BBC will be using the company's "Project Primetime" video platform to deliver live and VOD streaming coverage of the London Olympics, which start tomorrow evening. The BBC win follows news from 2 weeks ago that Adobe is also powering NBC's ambitious NBC Olympics Live Extra app, which will offer 3,500 hours of video. If all goes well from the NBC and BBC efforts, Project Primetime will gain significant credibility from the Olympics, helping position Adobe as a major player in the intensely competitive online video platform space.
For its Olympics coverage, the BBC is using "Primetime Simulcast" which allows it to live stream events across the web, mobile devices and connected TVs. Specifically, a new HTML5 app has been developed using Adobe PhoneGap, a cross-platform toolset. Video is prepared and delivered by Adobe Media Server for both HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) and HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) adaptive bit rate streaming formats. The video player uses the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF).
In addition, "Primetime Highlights" will be used by BBC producers to quickly create VOD clips and packages subsequent to live event. These clips will be integrated with relevant data about the athlete and sport.
In a briefing last week, Jeremy Helfand, Adobe's VP, Video Monetization, told me that in all, viewers will have access to 24 live HD streams from the BBC, comprising 2,500 hours of coverage, with another 3 BBC channels streamed using the current BBC iPlayer. Unlike NBC here in the U.S. which is authenticating all of its viewers as valid pay-TV subscribers, the only authentication BBC is requiring is an IP lookup, to verify geo-location. The BBC app's video will also be ad-free, so it is not leveraging Adobe Auditude, the company's video ad platform.
Around the world, the London Games sure do seem to be shaping up as the first "Digital Olympics." The extent of online video coverage and viewer control with these games are simply unprecedented. Broadcasters like the BBC and NBC are fully embracing digital delivery, recognizing that the viewer experience can be dramatically enhanced.
In my view, a key enabler of all this is the iPad, and its superior app experience. I expect that when the dust settles post-games, the iPad is going to emerge as an even more critical viewing device than it already is, with other content providers racing to provide apps for it.