In the field of consumer electronics, the advent of new features such as Internet, games, video conferencing, and mobile communication has triggered the convergence of television and computers technologies. This requires a generic media-processing platform that enables simultaneous execution of very diverse tasks such as high-throughput stream-oriented data processing and highly data-dependent irregular processing with complex control flows. As a representative application, this paper presents the mapping of a Main Visual profile MPEG-4 for High-Definition (HD) video onto a flexible architecture platform. A stepwise approach is taken, going from the decoder application toward an implementation proposal. First, the application is decomposed into separate tasks with self-contained functionality, clear interfaces, and distinct characteristics. Next, a hardware-software partitioning is derived by analyzing the characteristics of each task such as the amount of inherent parallelism, the throughput requirements, the complexity of control processing, and the reuse potential over different applications and different systems. Finally, a feasible implementation is proposed that includes amongst others a very-long-instruction-word (VLIW) media processor, one or more RISC processors, and some dedicated processors. The mapping study of the MPEG-4 decoder proves the flexibility and extensibility of the media-processing platform. This platform enables an effective HW/SW co-design yielding a high performance density.