A Deeper Dive into Multiplatform Content Protection: More Thoughts on How to Secure Content Everywhere (Part 1)
Last month, we conducted a Light Reading webinar on Multiplatform Content Protection: How to Secure Content Everywhere, hosted by Carol Wilson. During the session, Tom Pollard and I explored the new requirements for effective rights management and content protection in a multiplatform world. A very broad topic, indeed, but also a very timely and relevant one. With an increased number of tablets and smartphones driving consumer interest in video on the go, consumers are demanding access to preferred content across devices, anywhere and anytime. However, for service providers and content owners to be able to provide these services in a profitable manner, the content must first be secure. In addition, as new revenue models develop, the content protection must offer increased flexibility and the ability to follow complex rules. We addressed these issues during the webinar and are pleased to note that there was a very productive and stimulating Q&A session at the conclusion of the presentation. Many excellent questions were asked, however, and time constraints did not permit us to answer every question. Therefore, we’ve taken a sampling of the unanswered questions, and provided our answers and guidance below. Be sure to watch for the second installment of this series, where we’ll be answering more questions from the webinar participants. How will operators profit from content delivery using adaptive rate streaming of various types of video content? What network operator capabilities, if any, could enhance the end user QoE for such services? Modern pay-TV operators should embrace novel technologies, such as those utilizing adaptive rate streaming (ARS), which have been designed to effectively scale and solve many remaining IP video issues. Operators will profit from ARS as long as they increase subscribers’ quality of experience (QoE) and leverage the associated subscriber data. With ARS, subscribers can enjoy an uninterrupted experience with the highest quality possible, even as they roam from one network environment to another. In addition to the optimum-quality viewing experience, ARS also scales effectively on global and local networks, makes highly effective use of today’s content distribution networks (CDNs), and ensures that true HD media experiences over the Internet can become a reality. All of this translates to a richer consumer experience, with more personalized choices with regard to content, time and place. ARS can also provide valuable subscriber intelligence. At Verimatrix, we believe that the more you measure, the more you can impact QoE. While the concept of gathering subscriber usage data is not new, operators need to think about subscriber behavior and usage data more intelligently. This data can be leveraged to generate new revenue streams, increase subscriber loyalty, as well as enhance QoE and subscriber satisfaction. Technologies like ARS can provide a veritable treasure trove of data that can be analyzed for extremely useful metrics like performance trends and traffic patterns. These metrics provide a robust foundation for enhancing QoE and turning it into a real competitive advantage. What are the trends, now and in the next year or two, in stationary viewing vs. mobile (iPhone, iPad, etc.) viewing of video content?
This is a great question. Without a doubt, the content landscape is rapidly evolving as a result of the increasing role of over-the top (OTT) services. Static information feeds from the Web today are joined by an ever richer vein of mainstream programming delivered directly from its owners – often for free and with minimal advertising interruptions. While in the past this meant watching low-quality video on a PC monitor, today OTT services can be watched on the big screen connected to game consoles, Internet-enabled TVs, dedicated streaming devices such as Roku, and a variety of mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Consider these recent statistics (from a recent Nielsen report on smartphone usage), which represent a possible threat to traditional pay TV:
- Penetration of smartphone devices in the U.S. jumped from 23 percent of the market in the last quarter of 2009 to 31 percent in Q4 2010, representing a 35 percent increase
- The number of video viewers rose by 41 percent to 24.7 million over that timeframe
- Users spent an average of 4.2 hours per month consuming video at the end of 2010
Over the next couple of years, I think we can anticipate that this trend will continue. If you are looking for real time statistics, I suggest checking out the BBC Internet Blog, which posts a monthly snapshot of BBC iPlayer performance. It’s a great resource and very helpful in identifying key trends and issues. Do you think that ISO/MPEG's DASH standard will become the dominant adaptive streaming protocol. If not, why not? Yes, we do think that once it its finalized MPEG DASH is poised for widespread adoption. In our opinion, device makers will want to preferentially support a single video stream type. That will tend to help the adherence of standard video support in both PC-type browsers and embedded browsers (which have been much more of a challenge in many cases), and starts us down the road of direct HTML page support for connected TVs etc. We think that MPEG DASH will become the obvious choice for embedded devices. We are closely watching and participating in the standards development that will help enable and secure multiplatform content. For the latest standards developments and insights, read my article in the May 2011 issue of ScreensPlays,”Initiatives Promise Efficiency Gains for Multiscreen Service Operations.” What questions do you have on this topic?