Adobe To Release Support For HTTP Flash Streaming Next Month

Back in October, Adobe announced that sometime in 2010 they would provide support for HTTP streaming enabling CDNs to leverage their existing HTTP infrastructure and cache technologies for video delivery. The platform, called “project Zeri”, will provide support for all Flash Codecs, support adaptive bit‐rate switching, support live and on-demand delivery, enable the protection of content and will include full support within the Open Source Media Framework, to help provide a standard player. Kevin Towes from Adobe detailed all of this in a post on the Adobe blog six months ago.

In that time, Adobe has been working with some of the CDNs who have already deployed the technology and they have been working with beta customers to test the platform. Sometime next month, Adobe is expected to officially announce that the technology is now available with CDNs and will also announce content owners who are using the new service.

While this is good news for the industry and for content owners, the real question is how much cheaper is it for a CDN to deliver video via HTTP as opposed to RTMP? If HTTP based Flash streaming really does reduce the internal cost to a CDN, will CDNs pass that savings onto the customer in the form of  lower pricing? While it is possible, I have yet to see any CDN offer lower pricing for video content being delivered via HTTP using Microsoft’s HTTP technology called SmoothStreaming. But the cost to CDNs to deliver content using Microsoft’s technology was never that expensive because unlike Adobe, Microsoft does not charge a license fee for the streaming software or take any kind of revenue share payment.

Right off the bat, I don’t expect any of the CDNs to lower their price, but over time, it is something to keep a close eye on due to the fact that video delivered via HTTP is cheaper for them to manage and distribute And if the CDNs can reduce their internal cost with delivering video, even if they don’t lower the price to customers, the positive impact could be that it helps the CDNs become profitable, something that almost all of them are still struggling with. While Adobe has discussed the pricing model with CDNs for HTTP streaming, from the folks I have spoken with I get the sense that the exact pricing still has not been worked out. So it does sound like from Adobe’s side, the exact numbers are still up in the air.

Adobe has really been behind Microsoft when it comes to the functionality, capability, scalability and pricing model of their streaming server and has been slow to adopt and support HTTP based streaming. This has led some CDNs like Akamai to not wait for Adobe to support HTTP and forced them to develop and deploy their own HTTP based Flash streaming technology, which they announced in September of last year. And while I’ve heard that this has made Adobe quite un-happy, CDNs can’t always rely on third party companies for services they need today.

There are some other interesting details regarding this subject which I will give more details on when Adobe makes the official announcement.

  • And let’s not forget they will soon be releasing an entirely new DRM standard as well which is being implemented by solution and service providers to compliment this HTTP Streaming Capability.

  • Errrr…. why would pseudo streaming be considered as the new thing ? Apache, Ngnix, lighttpd all already have a wide support for HTTP delivery with both random-access video wrapper requests and rate-shaping. What is new here except that Adobe is challenging a far more educated population of opensource developpers on HTTP Server scalability ? I’d be prone to think that an HTTP server which has been updated for the past 10/15 years can’t have its performance beaten by a release from a dev team with relatively limited experience in scaling server-side code. Why would people wan’m having a hard time finding the technical/operational/strategic sense in that move, but maybe that’s just me. Or maybe Adobe is trying to get into HTML5 video before it is definetely too late and both Apple and Google set a new standard that excludes proprietary streaming.

  • or maybe your just anti everything Grrrrrrrrrrrreg. It’s obvious your a an Apple Google fanboy which doesn’t say much other than you like to follow the big pack.
    All Apple and Google have done is try to further fragment and marginalize an industry they don’t understand or touch. It’s sad to say the least.
    Adobe, capitalizing on their nearly 9 years of market leading technology, intends to offer a very robust platform that works with the Adobe Flash player, which by the way is bigger or better than anything that either Apple or Google have produced in the past 10 years.
    Want to see an old thing called new? Look at Google’s Youtube. The worst streaming site on the net. Wait..look at AppleTV. Or better yet Darwin Server or heck look at QuickTime. Talk about also rans.

  • Is this same standard as Apple has proposed with HTTP Live Streaming?
    If so, I think this is a good initiative from Adobe to find a common standard both for the streaming format and the delivery mechanism.

  • JIm Dallas

    Second the support for a common standard. I want an open standard system that supports a single HQ H.264 ingest, and will then give live variable bit-rate, and VOD variable bit-rate with seek off the same http infrastructure, , either the player (dynamic) or the user can change the bit-rate. There will be some trade-offs (shorter time-segments means losing some H.264 optimisations) but it technically doesn’t seem that hard.

  • Jeremy

    We are investigating HTTP streaming for iphones now and our biggest issue is all new software and creation of the new m3u8 files will associated segmented .ts files. Unless we just roll this out with new content only, we’re looking at a complete re-encode of our older files. Bummer, even though we have an extensive library of H.264 MP4 files, those don’t work with HTTP streaming.

  • Jeremy,
    We have a solution available where you don’t need to re-encode your H.264 MP4 files for playback on iPhone. You only have to convert (just remux, no transcoding) your MP4 files to their fragmented equivalents and you can playback on iPhone (m3u8), Silverlight (smooth streaming) and soon Flash 10.1 (adaptive http streaming) all from the same source. Have a look at for a demo.

  • Thanks for updating us with the nice information.

  • FP

    thanks for this useful post, i learned more info from your article.

  • ACT

    I hope they do reduce the price to customers, or at the very least don’t charge customers and on top of that take revenue share payment.
    That whole idea of hitting the customer with both has always left a sour taste in my mouth.

  • Flash Streaming?? Interesting stuff.:-) I will check out this issue..- Ray