It’s been a while since the trade show circuit has been operating at maximum capacity. We have seen the one-off event, local mixer and hybrid gathering here and there, but I am referring to the gauntlet of regularly scheduled large trade shows that were mothballed or switched to virtual due to the pandemic. It appears trade shows are roaring back — and we wanted to a few recaps and insights of what we’re seeing.

NAB 2022 – Las Vegas

Rapid Innovation & Remote Production

There were several trends, topics and conversations observed while walking the NAB show floor. Innovation was the theme that struck me the most. From the moment I rode in a Tesla model 3 in the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop tunnel that connected the West and South halls, I realized I was part of an experience that matched the buzz of the show floor; the wow, cool, forward-propelling feeling of progress.

It was evident from walking the event floor that remote production in Hollywood has made significant advances over the past two years. Companies like IBM, Blackmagic Design, SDVI, The Switch and Net Insight were featured in the Intelligence Content section of NAB, and reps from each company discussed the challenges broadcasters and content owners face when streaming live events. Broadcasters and content owners were said to face a number of challenges when streaming live events. Firstly, they need to ensure that their streams are of high quality and are able to reach a wide audience. Secondly, they need to ensure that their streams are able to capture all of the action and excitement of the event. Lastly, they need to ensure that their streams are able to provide viewers with a great viewing experience.

According to the NAB website, esports veteran, Charles Conroy, VP Gaming at The Switch said, “Gamers have been using avatars to explore and interact within virtual environments for decades, but now the pioneers who created those virtual worlds have the backing of big tech to demonstrate just how much they can achieve. Today, as gamers and others use the internet to buy clothes and groceries, communicate, work, and play, the idea of investing wholeheartedly in the digital world to engage the next generation makes sense.”  

We spoke to Charles after NAB and we hope to provide a blog post soon about esports monetization, piracy threats and security. Stay tuned!

This acceleration of technical innovation seems to have made it easier for productions to connect with crew and talent who are located outside of the traditional Hollywood production hubs. Additionally, the pandemic has forced productions to become more creative in how they operate, which has led to the development of new remote production technologies and methods.

NAB created the Remote Production Corner to put the spotting on integrating remote workflows, producing hybrid events, building compact live streaming kits, and receiving the best tips for virtual productions. Companies like Adobe, LucidLink and NVIDIA sponsored multiple live sessions.

Advances in Security

There has been innovation in digital content security as well, because pirates follow the M&E money trail; and they have been deploying cyber attacks with greater frequency and sophistication that ever before. Let’s look at DRM for a moment. 

Digital rights management (DRM) is a set of access control technologies for restricting the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted content. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and media content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies.

There are three main types of “free” DRM systems: PlayReady, Widevine, and FairPlay. Each DRM system has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in order for content to be played back on a device. 

PlayReady is a DRM system developed by Microsoft. It uses a encryption method known as AES-128 to protect content. In order to playback content that is encrypted with PlayReady, a device must first obtain a license from a PlayReady Server. Once a license is obtained, the device can then decrypt and playback the content. 

Widevine is a DRM system developed by Google. It uses a encryption method known as AES-128 to protect content. In order to playback content that is encrypted with Widevine, a device must first obtain a license from a Widevine Server. Once a license is obtained, the device can then decrypt and playback the content. 

FairPlay is a DRM system developed by Apple. It uses a encryption method known as AES-128 cipher, applied using a Cipher Block Chaining mode (CBCS) to protect content. In order to playback content that is encrypted with FairPlay, a device must first obtain a license from a FairPlay Server. Once a license is obtained, the device can then decrypt and playback the content.

Multi-DRM is a type of digital rights management that connects to, and allows for, the security of content using multiple DRM systems. This can provide a more robust level of security than using a single DRM system. There are several companies that offer Multi-DRM solutions in the market.

At NAB, Verimatrix showcased it’s new Streamkeeper™ Multi-DRM solution to combat “industrial-scale” piracy. What’s so significant about this and why did we do this?

Well, free DRM is not really free. To utilize DRM to safely deliver premium content, you really need to add layers of security solutions on top of DRM to offer “tier 1” quality protection that meets the expectations of the studios and television networks. Most DRMs alone simply do not provide this level of protection. So while your base DRM may be free, making it secure will cost you extra money. The good news is there are a plethora of easy-peasing and turnkey Multi-DRMs that you can use to bolster your security. But beware; many of these entry-level Multi-DRMs cater to the low-end of the market, and their solutions may not be able to rapidly scale to meet the high-volume encryptions needs of a live event, and some have pricing that’s more advantageous to the vendor than to the video operator. Additionally, customer service can be less than desired when you encounter issues that need to be resolved quickly. 

Verimatrix Streamkeeper is a software solution that was engineered for content providers and broadcasters to protect their live and on-demand video streams from today’s modern pirates. Streamkeeper uses a combination of Multi-DRM, watermarking, CDN protection, app shielding, Counterspy™ tracking telemetry and other security technologies to not only prevent unauthorized access and copying of video content, but it provides tools to respond to active piracy in real-time. Verimatrix discussed and demoed Streamkeeper with NAB attendees and received overwhelmingly positive responses.

Collaboration & Convergence

The convergence of entertainment sectors such as movies, sports and esports is creating new possibilities experiences for fans and business participants. Collaborations take many forms, such as the development of new games that combine elements of all three sectors, the creation of new leagues or tournaments that feature participants from all three industries, or the development of new platforms that allow fans to interact in one place. This convergence is driven by the increasing overlap between the audiences of these sectors, as well as the growing popularity of esports and the increasing investment in the industry.

Professionals from different parts of the entertainment ecosystem discussed ways to work together to solve problems like combatting growing attacks on their revenue streams from pirates, hackers and cheaters. In fact, Verimatrix did a study recently that showed cross-media awareness for security is way up.

Megacable, one of Mexico’s largest telcos, came to Verimatrix looking for a comprehensive solution to prevent video content piracy and cyber attacks against their apps and payment systems. We announced a deal with them to roll our our Extended Threat Defense solution and Streamkeeper anti-piracy.

Technology collaboration can take many forms and lead to many different types of breakthroughs in performance such as providing a platform for different stakeholders to share information and ideas, offer new products, facilitate better communication, optimize processes and reduce inefficiencies that can lead to improved performance.

Traditional M&E, sports and esports all share the desire to improve the viewer’s experience with technology advances that reduce latency and provide encoding efficiency. Verimatrix’s partner, Harmonic, spoke at NAB about deploying an AI-based video compression service to achieve a 50% average bandwidth savings.

And our customer, SSIMWAVE, featured a product that assesses viewer picture experience at scale to detect and correct issues. It won the NAB Product Of The Year Award this year.

Beyond NAB: Additional Broadcast Trade Shows

After NAB, Verimatrix successfully exhibited at ANGA COM (Germany) and CABSAT (UAE). Up next is BroadcastAsia (Singapore) from June 1-3, 2022.

Singapore is such a wonderful place to visit and do business and we are excited to exhibit and speak at this event once again. 

Verimatrix will promote several things at this year’s BroadcastAsia. First and foremost, we will play homage to the amazing service we provide to our customers and partners, especially traditional PayTV, satellite and cable operator customers who are migrating their operations from on-prem to OTT. This is one of the things Verimatrix is known for — our outstanding service and support that makes our customers successful.

We will also showcase Extended Threat Defense (XTD), our new Secure Delivery Platform and Streamkeeper. With Verimatrix Streamkeeper, media apps can be safeguarded instantly without cumbersome integrations. Streamkeeper empowers our broadcast customers to monitor piracy at the consumer device level, and we provide them with surgical countermeasures they can use to prevent or take down piracy in real-time based on the risk profile of the threat.

Extending threat defense to the endpoint with our XTD solution will also be top of mind at BroadcastAsia. Telcos and other media entities are experiencing an increase in cyber threats from multiple attack vectors. With security blind spots common at the connected app and unmanaged device level, this blind spot is like having a hole in an enterprise security wall. Verimatrix secures media apps, APIs and devices, plus adds an extended layer of monitoring protection to a company’s threat perimeter to repair this hole in enterprise security walls.

We’re really looking forward to exhibiting at BroadcastAsia and we’re eager to communicate in person again. We’re looking forward to sitting down with all of our valued partners to see how we can continue to provide the best security services for them. And we are excited to speak with an array of M&E companies looking safeguard their revenue streams and protect their content, code, IP, data or devices. 

We have many more broadcast trade shows in the planning stages that we will discuss soon. Our course, IBC in Amsterdam (Sept 9-12) will be the largest trade show of the year for Verimatrix — and we’re excited to exhibit again this year.

Be on the lookout for our next trade show update soon.