Rovi Takes On Adobe, Microsoft With Streaming DivX Video Push

Rovi will go head to head with the giants in the Internet-video streaming world, Adobe Systems and Microsoft, with DivX Plus Streaming, an adaptive bit-rate streaming solution the vendor claims provides superior quality and advanced DVD-like features.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Rovi obtained the DivX product line and technology -- originally designed for file-based video playback -- through its $720 million acquisition of Sonic Solutions, which closed earlier this year.

"We're definitely going to go up against Adobe and [Microsoft] Silverlight," Rovi executive vice president of products Corey Ferengul said. "What we're seeing is an interest in a broader set of features."

According to Rovi, the DivX Plus Streaming format already provides enhanced capabilities unavailable with other streaming solutions, including support for subtitles, multiple language audio tracks, DTS Audio, 1080p HD and trick-play features (fast forward, rewind, pause and resume).

In addition, the company claims DivX Plus Streaming offers more dynamic resolution scaling as bandwidth fluctuates because it uses a single server-based file for playback instead of breaking up video into small chunks. "We have a handful of improvements on quality so you get more of a DVD-like experience," Ferengul said.

Rovi plans future enhancements for the streaming format, including adding on-screen menus. "Today that's very difficult to do in the streaming world, because you have to essentially create a whole separate application," Ferengul said.

To date, more than 500 million HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, smartphones, game consoles, PCs and cable set-top boxes have been certified for DivX. An unknown percentage of those devices would be able to support the DivX streaming format, depending on whether they're Internet-connected, Ferengul said.

DivX Plus Streaming will be provided an option with the company's white-label Internet video service Rovi Entertainment Store (formerly called RoxioNow). Companies offering video download services through that service include Best Buy, Dish Network's Blockbuster, Dell, Intel, Lionsgate and Warner Bros.

DivX Plus Streaming uses a proprietary digital rights management technology, which is currently used by several online retailers that offer in the DivX format including WB Shop, Media Markt and Film Fresh.

Currently Rovi is waiting approval of the DivX Plus Streaming solution by Hollywood studios (which have already OK'd the downloadable DivX format). The vendor is offering a software development kit for DivX Plus Streaming to retailers, consumer electronics and chip manufacturers to integrate it into their products.

Rovi is demonstrating DivX Plus Streaming at the IFA trade show in Berlin, which runs Sept. 2-7.