Adobe has a new approach to online video it has codenamed Project Primetime. It is intended to enable seamless viewing experiences comparable to television, combining premium video and advertising across all major platforms, including Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows, Mac OS, Samsung smart televisions and other connected devices. Adobe is also supporting the MPEG-DASH initiative, advancing the prospect of a common standard for online video streaming, rather than promoting Flash as the sole solution.

Primetime combines streaming, content protection, analytics and optimisation with the recently acquired Auditude video advertising platform. Notably, it offers smooth insertion of advertising without introducing buffering delays.

As an example, Adobe has brought out a Primetime Highlights video publishing solution initially aimed at the iPad, with other platforms to be supported during 2012. The idea is to allow producers to take a clip from a live programme, such as a sports event, and turn it around for online distribution with integrated advertising.

To provide content protection, Adobe Access, formerly known as Adobe Flash Access, now adds support for HTTP Live Streaming or HLS protocol for Apple iOS devices.

Adobe will continue to develop its own HTTP Dynamic Streaming or HDS protocol but will also support MPEG-DASH and a standard profile known as DASH-264, based on the fragmented MPG4 file or fMP4 format adopted by both Adobe and Microsoft. Adobe is a member of the new DASH Promoters Group, joining founder members Microsoft, Netflix and Qualcomm.

One can only hope that the fragmentation of online video formats and confusion of acronyms will eventually consolidate into a rational set of standards that can be universally adopted.

Adobe appears to recognise that the answer is no longer Flash but is now aiming to offer a platform that integrates online video and advertising. While this may simplify integration in the short term, the reality is that the market will require functional separation between technology choices and business processes and is unlikely to accept any single vendor as a complete solution.

A previous initiative led by Adobe, the Open Screen project, appears to have come to little as the industry increasingly moves away from Flash. We will have to wait and see whether this latest venture is really ready for primetime.

Project Primetime was launched simultaneously at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the Annual Leadership Summit of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Miami.