The denizens of Hollywood and Silicon Valley have, by and large, vastly different value systems, role models, even tastes in cars, food and clothing.
But they increasingly agree on one thing: a standard for online video called Adobe Flash.
Flash was once known primarily as the technology behind those niggling Web ads in the 1990s that gyrated and flickered on the screen. Today, it is a ubiquitous but behind-the-scenes Web format used to display Facebook applications, interactive ads and, most notably, the video on sites like YouTube and Hulu.com.
Now Adobe Systems, which owns the technology and sells the tools to create and distribute it, wants to extend Flash’s reach even further. On Monday, Adobe’s chief executive, Shantanu Narayen, will announce at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas that Adobe is extending Flash to the television screen. He expects TVs and set-top boxes that support the Flash format to start selling later this year.
For consumers, what sounds like a bit of inconsequential Internet plumbing actually means that a long overhyped notion is a step closer to reality: viewing a video clip or Internet application on a TV or mobile phone.
For Hollywood studios and other content creators, a single format for Web video is even more enticing. It means they can create their entertainment once in Flash — as the animated documentary “Waltz With Bashir,” from Sony Pictures Classics, was made — and distribute it cheaply throughout the expanding ecosystem of digital devices.
“Coming generations of consumers clearly expect to get their content wherever they want on it, on any device, when they want it,” said Bud Albers, the chief technology officer of the Disney Interactive Media Group, who will join Adobe executives at the convention to voice Disney’s support for the Flash format. “This gets us where we want to go.”
Adobe, based in San Jose, Calif., is among the oldest Internet powers but perhaps one of the least visible to users. Founded in 1983, the company first developed a common language for laser printers called PostScript and later built or bought popular desktop publishing tools like Illustrator and Photoshop.
In 2005, Adobe acquired Macromedia, the originator of Flash, and expanded from making software to create and share digital documents, like Adobe Acrobat and the PDF file format, to dominating the budding market of tools to create online graphics and video. Last year the company reported net income of $871.8 million on revenue of $3.6 billion.
According to Adobe, Flash is now on 98 percent of all computers, and about 80 percent of Web videos are viewed using it.
Adobe says Flash was installed on 40 percent of cellphones shipped last year, and it recently announced efforts to increase that penetration by abolishing the licensing fees it was charging handset makers, much as it offers the Flash player free to consumers and video sites like YouTube.
Adobe makes money on Flash by selling software to help companies create and deliver Flash content to the Web.
Some major players in the phone market do not support Flash. Most notably, Apple, maker of the iPhone, says Flash uses too much processing and battery power. Mr. Narayen says handset makers will ultimately not be able to resist, since it will make viewing the Web on a phone no different from surfing on a PC.
“Anyone who wishes to deliver Web browsing on smartphone devices, supporting Flash will be an integral part of the experience,” he said.
Despite its problems wooing Apple, Adobe considers the television screen the last great frontier for Flash. To support the new effort to bring Flash to the TV, it has signed partners including Intel, Comcast, Netflix and Broadcom, the company that makes many of the components that go into cable and satellite set-top boxes. (The New York Times Company has also agreed to support this initiative to bring Flash to the TV set.)
While television makers like Sony and Samsung are not involved yet, analysts say integrating Flash — or at least some kind of Internet video — into the living room television is inevitable.
“It’s hard to differentiate TVs these days. They’ve gotten about as big and thin as you can get them,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Interpret LLC. “This idea of being able to standardize on Flash-based content across devices and platforms will be something TV vendors can get excited about because it will distinguish their products.”
One company standing in Adobe’s way is Microsoft. Its rival to Flash, called Silverlight, is used by Netflix and the BBC, among others, and was used by CBS to stream the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament and by NBC last year to stream the Olympics.
Microsoft says the second version of Silverlight has been installed on 300 million PCs since it became available six months ago. It also claims that Silverlight better supports live, high-definition video in what is called 1080p resolution, which is paramount to bringing Internet content to large HDTVs.
“I can’t imagine what could be more important on a television than high video quality,” said Brad Becker, director of rich client platforms at Microsoft — and a former Adobe executive. Adobe executives say the new Flash for televisions will support such high-definition video.
Some analysts are not counting out Microsoft just yet. They say the company has a significant presence in the living room with devices like the Xbox 360 game consoles that can stream movies to a TV. Microsoft, with annual revenue that is 17 times that of Adobe’s, also has the resources to finance an escalating competition.
“There hasn’t been a true competitor to Adobe for quite some time and Microsoft could potentially start bridging the gap between the PC and the TV even more effectively,” said Josh Martin, an analyst at the Yankee Group. “Maybe they could start putting out some of the fire that Adobe has long held.”