Adobe Systems on Wednesday plans to release Adobe Media Player (AMP), a free download for playing Flash-based Web videos on Macs or PCs.

Written with Adobe's AIR, AMP is a hybrid online/offline application that lets people subscribe to different video Webcasts. Adobe has signed on some initial partners including CBS, PBS, MTV Networks, Universal Music Group, CondeNet, and Scripps Networks. 

The videos are either streamed from the content producer's Web site or they can be downloaded. Adobe will host a catalog, called Adobe TV, on its site where people can find videos. Because it's written with AIR, people can be offline or online when they watch.

Initially, many of the videos available will have advertising attached to them. Using Adobe's digital rights management server, content producers are able to put controls on their media.

Later, Adobe intends to enhance the client software so that different business models can be used, such as paying to download a video or renting videos, said Ashley Still, a senior product manager at Adobe.

  

There are already a number of existing media players, like iTunes. But Adobe thinks that having its own player will be strategic for a number of reasons, Still said.

PBS is one of the content partners to use the Adobe Media Player.

Adobe is trying to garner more revenue from online services; the company will be sharing revenue from advertising with content producers.

The player complements Adobe's multimedia content-creation multimedia products and Adobe wants to make sure there is a high-quality way to deliver that video to consumers, Still said.

"This is the first time Adobe is participating directly in the playback of Internet video content," she said.

With the 1.0 version, the player will only display Flash content, but Adobe could add support for other formats, Still said.