Just in time for the mounting controversy over TV properties landing on every imaginable screen on every imaginable device, Adobe steps in to claim that it can manage the madness for the value chain. This morning the company announced an Adobe Pass product that will authenticate pay TV subscribers across screens so that only the right customers get access to the content. Adobe is positioning this as a solution to quell anxieties and rights worries among TV cable/satellite providers and the individual content makers. The many worries and conflicts of business interest of TV everywhere models surfaced last week soon after Time Warner Cable issued an iPad app that streamed programming to an additional screen. Cease and desist orders started flying from the content providers themselves, and Time Warner started pulling some brands off of the app.
Adobe Pass claims to provide a secure authentication system that uses Flash and HTML5 to provide access to content on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Blackberry and Google TV platforms. Adobe says that the system works via a single user sign-in and will not require additional downloads or other tricky authentication procedures. While the company emphasizes its own Flash technology, it is telling that it calls out HTML5 as well to signal its support of Flash-incompatible Apple iOS devices like the iPad.
The company says that the Pass allows for flexible business rules so the content owners can control access. Limits can be placed on things like the number of devices in a household that can use the content on a single account. In its pitch to the TV distributors, Adobe claims that the system will heighten engagement and "prevent cord cutting."
Adobe says the Pass product is available now and already in deployment. They are working with Turner, MTV Networks, Comcast and DISH.
While TV providers are anxious to get with the mobile app program and ensure ubiquitous TV presence, some content brands are balking. Some TV networks see the additional screens these apps access as separate from the cable or satellite deals they already signed. The L.A. Times reports that much of the controversy is happening behind the scenes since the TV networks do not necessarily want to go public with their grievances.And it is unclear why content providers would object to having their material available in more places in the home. Under the Time Warner app model, iPad can only access the TV content via the Time Warner cable modem that is already sharing the data stream with the TV signals. From a user's perspective the iPad is pretty much behaving like just another TV screen in the house in these early apps. But consider as well that apps are not TV screens. They give the maker new latitude for added functionality, ad opportunities, cross-promotion. It is not altogether unreasonable for the networks to want to ensure they have their finger on the off button to that TV 'everywhere' doesn't go 'anywhere' without them.