Time Warner, NBC Universal delay iPad support in preference to Flash

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
Apple's negotiations with certain big media firms to support modern, iPad-compatible web standards for video distribution have reportedly run into resistance due to the expense and effort involved in converting their vast multimedia libraries from Adobe's Flash.



According to report by the New York Post, unnamed sources reportedly said that "several large media companies, including Time Warner and NBC Universal, told Apple they won't retool their extensive video libraries to accommodate the iPad, arguing that such a reformatting would be expensive and not worth it because Flash dominates the Web."



The media firms are said to be betting on a new fleet of iPad-like devices promised by Dell and HP, which they expect will run Flash and therefore not require any changes to their existing libraries of web content. One media executive also pointed to the announcement of Google TV, which is expected to promote Flash as a media distribution technology, although not to mobile users.



The Flash exodus vs the Flash entrenched



Apple's inability to obtain a functional mobile runtime for Flash from Adobe over the last three years of iPhone OS development has pushed the company to bypass Flash entirely for both interactive content and video delivery, backing the progress of HTML5 for interactivity and H.264 for video delivery instead.



Apple's significant installed base of iPhone devices, representing a valuable affluent demographic of users, have prompted a significant number of companies to abandon Flash as their medium for creating interactive websites. This has included high profile departures by Virgin America, as well as documented scrappings by Scribd.



A report by the Wall Street Journal recently profiled a number of ad agencies, programmers and web designers who say their "clients increasingly are asking that their websites or applications be compatible with Apple's iPhone and iPad."



It cited Carnival Corp. as having remade its cruise line website a year ago without using Flash, just like Virgin America, explicitly because of the iPhone.



Interactivity easy to transition from Flash, video more involved



Condé Nast originally pursued a Flash-centric strategy for developing digital versions of its magazines, including Wired, but was forced to abandon Flash to get its work on iPad. The company attempted to save face by suggesting it had worked with Adobe to convert its Flash application, but in reality had simply written a new native iPhone OS app and reused its existing media content.



Sports Illustrated, which uses Flash extensively on its website, similarly unveiled an HTML5 web app recently; that property is part of Time Warner. The firm's seemingly contradictory stance on Flash is based on the reality that releasing HTML5 or native iPhone OS apps in place of Flash interactive content is relatively easy for publishers to do, while adapting their existing libraries of Flash-encumbered content, such as videos or Flash-wrapped documents, is more challenging and the immediate value of doing this may be less certain.



It's not impossible however, as demonstrated by Google's efforts to deliver YouTube videos to the iPhone, or by similar efforts by Vimeo and Brightcove to make their video content available via H.264. Apple is forging partnerships with Disney to prove that the effort is viable. The iPad's App Store debuted with a custom app from Disney's ABC that delivers content from a variety of the network's shows on demand.



Media companies and end users who continue to bet that Apple's competitors will have an easier time getting Adobe to deliver a functional mobile version of Flash may be disappointed. Hulu, a popular service that uses Flash on the web, intentionally blocks Adobe's Flash Player on mobile devices, but also has plans to release an iPad-compatible version later this year, based on a subscription rather than adware model.



Flash sites that do support the new beta mobile Flash Player don't necessarily work very well; the majority of the existing Flash video content that media firms say they are reluctant to re-encode for delivery using H.264 and HTML5 are not optimized for mobile Flash delivery either. That means the videos' playback will consume far more battery life on mobile devices than it would were they upgraded to modern codecs that can be played by with hardware assistance. So media companies will eventually have to do the work regardless of whether they want to or not.



Big Media vs Apple's iTunes



Apple is not new to media companies dragging feet over entering new markets; the company faced a difficult time pushing music labels to accept standardized pricing and per-song sales in iTunes. In 2007, Universal threatened to end its music contract with iTunes, and subsequently began selling its music as MP3s to competing stores such as Amazon while refusing to support DRM-free sales in iTunes, hoping to gain more negotiating leverage with Apple over increasing song prices.



Apple entered episodic TV sales with only one major partner: Disney, which Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs had the leverage to convince to enter the new direct TV sales market. Other TV networks were reluctant to join iTunes until Apple could prove the new model would work.



Even after all the major networks had signed on, NBC Universal split from iTunes for a year in late 2007 over a feud involving content pricing. NBC came back the next fall after its solo efforts with "NBC Direct" failed to materialize.



Apple also faced difficult negotiations with movie studios over digital rentals and HD content, but in 2008 entered the market with movies from every major studio, with HD content becoming available the next year. Other efforts Apple had tried to introduce, including a cloud-based iTunes Replay service Apple has had in negotiations with the labels and studios for nearly a year and a half, have still not yet emerged.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 159
    gigawiregigawire Posts: 196member
    Stupid, stupid, stupid old media companies. Will you ever learn???
  • Reply 2 of 159
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    D'oh!
  • Reply 3 of 159
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    Just curious. What format is/are used in the existing iTunes database of movies, tv programs and other videos?



    Quote:

    Stupid, stupid, stupid old media companies. Will you ever learn???



    It does cost a lot of money, and many new programmer/developers with the correct expertise and experience to hire. The movie and TV industries are reeling from the impact of the latest and still lingering economic downturn. Even the bankable stars supposedly have to endure drastic cuts in their pay scale. No more 10-40 million dollars for leading stars.



    Calculate how many hundreds or millions of movies, TV programs must be rented/sold digitally to recoup the investments, especially when the banks are not lending money. There are no rich Arabs or Asians either to splurge their oil money or Bollywood extra cash, this time around.



    Unless Steve Jobs/Apple or you perhaps you, shell out the funds, it may not be too simple or even prudent to make judgement, as you uttered.





    CGC
  • Reply 4 of 159
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,563member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... According to report by the New York Post, unnamed sources reportedly said that "several large media companies, including Time Warner and NBC Universal, told Apple they won't retool their extensive video libraries to accommodate the iPad, arguing that such a reformatting would be expensive and not worth it because Flash dominates the Web."



    The media firms are said to be betting on a new fleet of iPad-like devices promised by Dell and HP, which they expect will run Flash and therefore not require any changes to their existing libraries of web content. One media executive also pointed to the announcement of Google TV, which is expected to promote Flash as a media distribution technology, although not to mobile users. ...



    Especially from that last sentence quoted above, it's clear that the execs at these companies have no idea what they are doing. And good luck with that "fleet of iPad-like devices promised by Dell and HP."



    Well, when they start to realize the impact it's having on their bottom line, I expect they'll change their plans quickly. But, there are always casualties in technology transitions, especially among the laggards.
  • Reply 5 of 159
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,560member
    They have every right to stick to their guns. If Apple wants to push forward with HTML5, that's their choice as well.



    To be honest, I'd rather have the choice on my device of which platform I wanted to use instead of someone forcing me one way or the other. HTML5 isn't ready to take over 98% (or whatever number Adobe is throwing around these days), so until that does happen, I'll have to side with the NBC/Time Warner guys.



    Besides, how long would it take to retool a site like Hulu anyway? That can't be a simple task.
  • Reply 6 of 159
    jimcordjimcord Posts: 20member
    Oh well, I didn't know was watching any of their programming so not a loss. Thanks to abc, we have good programming covered with Modern Family!
  • Reply 7 of 159
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,385member
    Hmm... I thought Apple was supposed to be the king of vendor "lock-in".



    That's what happens with single-vendor technology. I wonder what Adobe's response would be to this since they are the one whining about Apple denying consumer choice in the web. \



    The sooner all web presentation is off of Adobe's flash and onto a universal, open, standardized HTML5, H.264 framework, the better everything will be.
  • Reply 8 of 159
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    To be honest, I'd rather have the choice on my device of which platform I wanted to use instead of someone forcing me one way or the other. .



    I can understand that. The problem is that if you're targeting mobile devices, you DO NOT have a choice. Flash for mobile devices DOES NOT EXIST. HTML is your only choice (even if you have to ignore the newest features of html 5 for a while).



    That's what these "Apple is blocking Flash' people keep missing. THERE IS NO VERSION OF FLASH that would run on an iPhone - no matter what Apple does. Witness the fact that there's no Flash on jailbroken phones or on any other mobile device.



    Idiots.
  • Reply 9 of 159
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Help to kill iPad!

    Don't re-encode your content!
  • Reply 10 of 159
    delanydelany Posts: 51member
    Sorry, but having lurked through the idiocy of other Flash threads on this board ... can't ... help ... myself ... despite pointlessness ...



    Yay, go big media! Steve's externally juvenile but internally profit-driven attitude to Flash (with a bit of support from a mini army of adoring know-very-littles) deserves a bit of a reality check. (And I'm talking about the news portion of this article, not the tacked on editorial).



    ... thank you. I feel much better now. You may now continue agreeing with SJ and eachother.
  • Reply 11 of 159
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,563member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post


    Help to kill iPad!

    Don't re-encode your content!



    Help to kill your own business!

    Don't re-encode your content!
  • Reply 12 of 159
    manfrommarsmanfrommars Posts: 104member
    How painful could it be to convert videos to HTML5?



    It's not like it takes thousands of people adjusting every frame. It's a process that can be automated and left to run over the weekend basically.



    Sure, I get that it's not the same as me converting a few songs from mp3 to AAC, but really?



    They can convert the important new stuff first and do the older titles slowly. Like the iTunes store did.



    Seems like such a poor business decision not to get your media in as many players as possible, even if there are technical obstacles.
  • Reply 13 of 159
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I can understand that. The problem is that if you're targeting mobile devices, you DO NOT have a choice. Flash for mobile devices DOES NOT EXIST. HTML is your only choice (even if you have to ignore the newest features of html 5 for a while).



    **Scratches head**



    Android 2.2 support Adobe Flash 10.1 and it's already out for the Nexus One. On top of that, the Nexus One running Android 2.2 can play content from Hulu:



    http://www.absolutelyandroid.com/gui...oid-2-2-froyo/
  • Reply 14 of 159
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 821member
    edited.
  • Reply 15 of 159
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by manfrommars View Post


    How painful could it be to convert videos to HTML5?



    It's not like it takes thousands of people adjusting every frame. It's a process that can be automated and left to run over the weekend basically.



    Sure, I get that it's not the same as me converting a few songs from mp3 to AAC, but really?



    They can convert the important new stuff first and do the older titles slowly. Like the iTunes store did.



    Seems like such a poor business decision not to get your media in as many players as possible, even if there are technical obstacles.



    If I'm not mistaken, HTML5 doesn't support DRM which is why the CBS and ABC TV show "wrappers" for the iPad are an App and not an actual webpage you can go to.



    Or maybe I'm wrong here?
  • Reply 16 of 159
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    I don't think it's an issue of Flash or HTML5, I think it's a matter (Hulu at least) of DRM. They need to protect their content and I am not sure HTML5 allows DRM. If I'm wrong on whether HTML5 supports DRM or not, please let me know.
  • Reply 17 of 159
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,563member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by manfrommars View Post


    How painful could it be to convert videos to HTML5?



    It's not like it takes thousands of people adjusting every frame. It's a process that can be automated and left to run over the weekend basically.



    Sure, I get that it's not the same as me converting a few songs from mp3 to AAC, but really?



    They can convert the important new stuff first and do the older titles slowly. Like the iTunes store did.



    Seems like such a poor business decision not to get your media in as many players as possible, even if there are technical obstacles.



    Well, we are probably talking about more than just video here. But, those who take the, "We're just gonna hunker down and wait out this whole HTML5 thing," are just setting themselves up for the hard reality of failure. The smart move is to start transitioning now, otherwise, you'll be left scrambling in a couple of years when Apple and Microsoft stop shipping Flash with their desktop OSs.
  • Reply 18 of 159
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    I work for Time Warner Cable, the company is extremely dinosaur like, the way they do business, its a wonder how they even survive sometimes.
  • Reply 19 of 159
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Can I ask you a question? If Apple is so evil to refuse flash, which mobile device can you watch these NBC/Time Warner videos anyways?



    Retooling Hulu would be hard. Pretty much any other video access would be easy, since all the Flash video is encoded in H.264 anyways. They could easily go the ABC route (which has been a financial windfall for ABC).



    This is just NBC hating Apple (remember the pullout from the iTunes store, for no reason). I think its a simple ego clash, and seeing how inept the management of NBC has been, this would not be surprising at all.



    You can watch NBC content with a Nexus One running Android 2.2 on Hulu. Same goes for any Android 2.2 device.



    As for NBC hating on Apple... why is it OK for Apple to hate on Adobe Flash, yet it's not OK for NBC to return the favor towards Apple's stance?



    To be honest, there's no right or wrong answer. As I said before, I'd prefer to have a choice like on Android. If you don't want to use Flash 10.1, you don't have to download the plugin. If you want it, it's there for the taking. That's the way it should be IMHO, but what do I know?
  • Reply 20 of 159
    dhkostadhkosta Posts: 150member
    That's it. Apple may now be forced to kill flash soon via hostile takeover.



    Frankly, I'd love to see it.
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