As video content becomes more diverse and ubiquitous, pay-TV operators must adapt their services to rising subscriber expectations. Operators are therefore increasingly targeting multiple screens, i.e. TVs, PCs and various mobile devices, in their attempts to offer competitive services and reach the widest possible audience, anywhere and anytime. Service convergence has become a market-driven imperative representing an upside opportunity for innovative service providers to expand revenues and differentiate service offerings.
Maximizing the monetization of content across a multi-network, multi-screen delivery environment comes with several challenges: when the operator wants to reach beyond its managed network to various types of mobile devices, including OTT video streaming delivery, the issue of multiple and vertical Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems arises. Examples of common as well as emerging DRM systems:
- PlayReady DRM by Microsoft, and Microsoft Silverlight DRM “powered by PlayReady”
- Marlin DRM, adopted by Open IPTV Forum, UltraViolet (DECE) and YouView (UK)
- AACS (Advanced Access Content System), supported by all Blu-ray players
The real business challenge is for operators to eliminate the distribution and consumption silos that often frustrate consumers and nudge them towards alternative sources. Therefore, the service provider needs to enable support for native DRM systems on the devices that they wish to provide services for, and to provide the user with a completely transparent consumption experience.
It is therefore only natural for digital TV operators to be looking to the content security community to solve the “transparency problem” that bedeviled the music industry in its transition to an online marketplace. Operators need to accommodate a diversity of receivers over broadcasting and IP networks, regardless of any embedded DRM, supporting fixed or mobile reception over both managed and un-managed networks.
Verimatrix has devised a solution for these multi-platform challenges, called MultiRights™, providing DRM and content consumption transparency across networks and devices. MultiRights is a component within the multi-network Video Content Authority System (VCAS). MultiRights brings CE devices with embedded, non-Verimatrix clients under the VCAS unified revenue security umbrella together with other subscriber devices already incorporating Verimatrix ViewRight® clients. The goal is not “DRM unification” as much as user rights unification to enable transparent content consumption for the end-users.
The MultiRights framework allows for the inclusion of any third-party DRM scheme and client devices under the VCAS umbrella for complete end-to-end management of revenue security. MultiRights provides server-side support for secure content distribution to STBs, PCs, and off-the-shelf CE and mobile devices, when equipped with compatible media players and native DRM clients.
The MultiRights framework within VCAS provides:
- Single content authority and services management across devices and networks that provides unified treatment of DRM formats and protection regimes
- The VCAS Operator Management Interface (OMI), which provides a single VCAS integration point for customer care, billing and middleware systems through a set of content, device and entitlement management interfaces. OMI enables VCAS domain-based business models for multi-screen digital TV services by providing homogenous subscriber and rights management for heterogeneous networks and devices: DVB, IPTV, Internet TV/OTT, and hybrid combinations thereof.
- Extended VCAS content ingestion, applying one or more DRMs in a single content ingest step while harmonizing the applied license rights across the DRM schemes.
- Multiple DRM-specific license servers to handle requests from a variety of device types. The rights requests from different device agents are arbitrated by common VCAS application logic to harmonize entitlement.
- A common rights issuer URI (related to the VCAS deployment) and content ID scheme, supported for all associated protected files.
- An evolution path for current VCAS for IPTV and DVB operators to offer converged services on otherwise heterogeneous networks, while also extending the online/offline content security regime for CE devices.
The MultiRights goal for the end-users is a completely transparent subscriber experience in a multi-DRM universe. The architecture enables MultiRights processed files to be transparently consumed on CE devices that include third-party DRM clients. MultiRights currently provides support for the following DRMs with others for consideration based on market demand:
- Microsoft PlayReady DRM
- Marlin DRM for Broadband