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Adobe and Pac-12 Detail 3 Keys to the Future of Television

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When Adobe spoke with its customers about the future of television, there was a lot of disagreement, Campbell Foster, director or product marketing for Adobe, explained—even violent disagreement. However, there were three key points they all agreed on:

• "TV is going to be a lot more portable." In the future, you'll be able to bring all of your programming with you. All of it. When you check into a hotel, you won't be limited by the hotel's TV offerings, because you'll have your own.

• "It's going to be a lot more fun; it's going to be a lot more engaging." Adobe is aware that TV Everywhere authentication is a problem. It's a nuisance that often leaves viewers frustrated. Adobe makes authentication software, so it knows "that experience sucks," as Foster said. Creating tomorrow's fun and engaging TV requires finally conquering the authentication problem.

• "It's going to be a lot more personalized." Customers will trade information for a better user experience, Foster said. To deliver a personalized experience, the provider will need to know a lot about the individual viewer.

Foster spoke during an Adobe Summit 2016 session entitled "Deliver Personalized TV Experiences: Learn How to Succeed With Mobile Video." Joining him was David Aufhauser, general manager and vice president for Pac-12 Enterprises. Aufhauser explained how Pac-12, joined with Adobe a year ago to build a network that could distribute and monetize its member colleges' sports video content.

Addressing Foster's points, Aufhauser said Pac-12 was still grappling with many issues that would define its future. On TV Everywhere, he said, "We are trying to figure out ways to make this a much much better experience," but haven't figured it out yet. Pac-12 needs fans be to part of "our family" to get content, meaning they need a pay TV subscription, but he wants the experience to be easier.

Why not go the Netflix route and create a subscription offering? Aufhauser said he gets that question daily, and his organization is still trying to figure out how it should exist in an OTT world—one that sees drastic changes every three months. Pac-12 could create its own subscription offering or bundle with an OTT provider. "From a technical prospective, we've been able to do a lot. From a business perspective, we're not quite there," he noted.

Thanks to its member colleges, Pac-12 benefits from lots of local content. "We live in a world where content is produced in a hyper-localized model," Aufhauser said. One challenge going forward is giving viewers individual personalized experiences.

Pac-12 is looking at two ways of building an audience. One method is to find an audience and build an experience around them, such as on Facebook. The problem here is monetizing that video and creating a business around it. The second way is through a traditional e-commerce funnel model: Reaching out to fans and trying to convert them to paying customers. The organization is experimenting with both.

"I'd be lying if I got up here and said we have all the answers, but it's a really fun challenge to work through," Aufhauser said.

Foster noted that Adobe today launched Primetime OTT in beta to help its customers solve these problems.

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