Future-proofing your OTT content protection

September 9, 2014 bengidley

Delivering and monetizing OTT content means you have to make some key decisions. Which security solution, which delivery mechanism, and which devices? When industry standards exist, you can move forward with confidence. But without them, the future can be full of pitfalls.

Cautionary Tale: Veronica Mars
When Veronica Mars premiered via Ultraviolet (UV) in the UK, it was supposed to be delivered via Flixster. But Flixster didn’t offer a full range of apps for TV devices. Many consumers were unable to play the content they had purchased, which was incredibly frustrating. As a consequence, some chose pirated content instead. Ultimately, the producers were forced to offer the show via alternative digital services. And this required a complex and extremely costly refund mechanism. Not to mention the damage done to Flixster’s brand.

Are you ready for the next big thing? 
The direction you choose for content protection and delivery is critical to your business—just ask Flixster! There is a wide range of content protection techniques: CA, DRM, authentication, watermarking, to name a few. Plus different delivery methods: broadcast, streaming, multicast, etc. You also have to decide on packaging: from “one size fits all,” covering all major devices, to a Just-In-Time strategy. The right path is anything but clear. To add to the headache, think 4K. The ultra-high quality of 4K content means content owners will require watermarking. Are you ready for that?

And what about the future of OTT broadcasting? Imagine ubiquitous native advertising and while-you-watch shopping. How will you secure those transactions? The point is: get ready to support unprecedented viewer capabilities and any new devices that enable them (Amazon Fire Phone anyone?).

Sounds easy right? 
Fortunately, there are just three basic principles for ensuring a successful, sustainable OTT content protection scheme:

  • Content owner acceptability – to get content rights, it must meet major content provider rules (e.g. MovieLabs) driven by major Hollywood studios
  • Operator ease of use – it must be simple to use and economical
  • Consumer ease of use – it must be intuitive and just work

What’s hard about that? Without standardization, maintaining these principles is virtually impossible. Not all security solutions work on all devices, and in every case they provide a different balance of security and usability. Similarly, different delivery formats and packaging force trade-offs between cost, speed and consumer usability.

Choose wisely now for a secure future
Eliminating bad options for providers and bad experiences for consumers is possible. But it will require industry-wide standardization. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The good news is that the industry is starting to simplify and standardize the security landscape. And making the right choices today will enable you to evolve to a standards-based solution with minimum effort and cost. Click here to see our recommendation for OTT security that should last you another five to ten years.


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