As with a number of broadcasters Channel 4 is being forced to move away from Flash – itself an Adobe product – following the decision by a number of browsers to drop support for the technology.
The All 4 service carries a variety of catch up programming as well as live streams of the broadcasters channels. Andy Bell, Chief Engineer, Channel 4 said that when it became clear browser makers were going to deprecate Flash and removed plugin updates the broadcaster launched a proof of concept with possible candidates.
“There were many, many things that had to be there but our three key requirements that proved hardest to accommodate were a need for strong DRM based content protection across the feature set, rich monetisation options including dynamic ad insertion for both VOD and Simulcast, and minimising the impact of change on our back-end services for both metadata and video provisioning,” said Bell.
Channel 4 already used a number of other Adobe products and was aware of the Flash successor, but it emerged Adobe was the only candidate that could that provided a solution without requiring a rebuild of the backend and a revision of the DRM process.
“Ultimately, the intention is that when we launch our HTML 5 offering the feature set and experience that viewers get will be identical to the one they see today. For someone in my position, pure technology investment projects can be difficult to justify so success comes when you make things as simple as possible – and not having to completely rewrite our internal code or our backend systems to cater for this change is a huge benefit.”
Channel 4 hasn’t set a timescale for the move to Adobe Primetime, but Bell is keen to do so as soon as possible, given the uncertainty of the browser makers commitment to Flash.
There are also potential synergies elsewhere in Channel 4’s ecosystem as it already uses HTML on other players.