April 27, 2009 – It's becoming a matter of partner or perish in the new media business these days.
The latest evidence of that trend came at the recent National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas where Adobe and Brightcove announced a strategic alliance that promises to strengthen both companies' market positions in Internet video by integrating technology, sales and marketing.
The pair-up gives the partners access not only to the other's software, but also to their customers. That's where the deal carries the most potential to pay off and to serve as a model for other media companies to imitate. By tapping into each other's client base, Adobe and Brightcove can win new customers faster than they could without the partnership.
"We've worked with Adobe on long-form media delivery and content protection in the past, but this alliance will take it to a deeper level where we're approaching customers together with complete solutions," said Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire.
Deals like this are likely to become the norm in both new and traditional media because they immediately open treasure troves of potential leads, making business development a more efficient process, especially as partners learn to share resources and co-market. Business development is a time-consuming process, so anything that shortens the window to a sale is beneficial.
The Adobe-Brightcove deal calls for the partners to collaborate on both technology and sales efforts. The partners will integrate Adobe's technology into Brightcove's service for long-form, high-definition video delivery and better content protection, Brightcove said. In addition, Adobe's video editing software will include a Brightcove plug-in. That level of integration makes it much easier for Brightcove and Adobe customers to use the other company's technology.
The upshot is Brightcove gets a deeper foothold with Adobe's Flash, the popular technology for Web video that Brightcove has been using with its video delivery services. A tie-in with Adobe can help Brightcove protect its current position as a market leader in delivering online video services, officials said. Brightcove competes with other Web video technology firms such as thePlatform, Extend Media, Grab Networks and Maven Networks.
For Adobe, the alliance bolsters its position in the online video business, because Brightcove counts as customers some of the biggest media companies, including the Showtime and Lifetime networks.
"Expanding our successful long-term collaboration with a market leader like Brightcove and its significant global reach will further accelerate the adoption of the Adobe Flash Platform, and pave the way for new initiatives like Adobe Strobe, our open and extensible media player framework," said Jim Guerard, vice president and general manager of dynamic media at Adobe.
Adobe also gains an advantage on Microsoft's Silverlight for now in the race to become the Web standard for video, said Kaan Yigit, analyst with Solutions Research Group. Silverlight is a competitive product that enables Web video streaming. Adobe's case is strengthened by Brightcove's deep ties with so many different video producers and publishers, he said. In addition, "Adobe works with Facebook, whereas [Microsoft's Silverlight technology] is with MySpace, and the momentum has been on the side of Facebook on that one," Yigit said.
The deal is also noteworthy because of the integration of Adobe tools into the delivery of long-form programming online. While short viral videos on YouTube are incredibly popular, consumers are also gravitating toward longer content. Online audience measurement service comScore said the average online Internet user is watching 3.5 minutes at a time and that keeps increasing.
"Major media companies are getting more and more serious about online distribution, and having a variety of robust tools will only fuel further market development," said Will Richmond, analyst with VideoNuze.com. "In terms of competition, the online video space continues to be marked by innovation across the entire technology ecosystem. This deal is just the latest evidence of how dynamic the online video space is."
Finally, the partnership will also help both companies push online video services beyond their media roots, underscoring how Web video is becoming a must-have not just for the media business but for most businesses. Brightcove, for one, has expanded its business recently both internationally and into non-media businesses. The company powers online video for both the San Diego Zoo and Rhode School of Design, among other non-media entities, and has also struck deals with marketers and media companies in Japan for online video technology.
This new crop of businesses Brightcove is pitching may now be more apt to use Adobe's technology because of the deal. The two partners also said they'll announce more marketing, sales and technology initiatives throughout the year.