Adobe Wins Gold in Online Olympics

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When the Games of the XXIX Olympiad begin at the end of this week in Beijing, it will be the most web tech heavy Olympic Games ever put on. 5,000 hours of streaming video coverage will be pushed out on the web from Beijing, so much that 95% of CIOs think that the Olympics may break the Internet. But while the individual media companies that won the contracts to stream Olympic video are certainly winners (including NBC Universal, Google, and Brightcove), the big winner on 08-08-08 will be Adobe.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics are supposed to be a coming out party for Microsoft’s Silverlight, a web animation and video technology that competes with Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash format. Microsoft signed their biggest third party partner for Silverlight in NBC, who will stream 2,200 hours of video content at its Olympics site using Microsoft’s technology. (Microsoft already has some big Silverlight deployments, such as its deal with Major League Baseball to power the MLB.TV site, but the Olympics is its highest profile deployment.)

But the NBC deal only covers the US territory. That may be one of the most lucrative markets right now, but most of the world will be getting their Olympic video via Adobe’s Flash. CCTV.com, which owns the web broadcast rights for China and Macau, will use Adobe Flex and Flash to deliver streaming Internet video, while Brightcove KK in Japan has the Japanese rights. Their video technology of choice? Flash.

Just between China and Japan, that’s about 300 million potential Internet users — more than the 215 million or so getting the Silverlight treatment by NBC in the US.

Across the rest of the world, most users will be seeing Flash as well. Yahoo! 7, the official Olympics video provider in Australia, uses Flash, and 77 territories, including Korea, India, Indonesia, and parts of Africa will get Olympic video on YouTube, which of course uses Flash. In most of the world, if you’re watching the Olympics online, you’re probably doing it in Flash and not Silverlight.

Microsoft certainly still medals for sticking the landing on the huge NBC online deal, but the Olympics are a global competition, and in the race for online video technology ubiquity, Adobe is winning the gold.