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April 22, 2015

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Pay TV Needs Harmonized Rights Management in a Multiple DRM World

The whole pay-TV industry is undergoing the greatest disruptive change in its history as the tide towards multi-screen reaches its peak. This has been evidenced by numerous consumer surveys, with the latest and largest from global IT services group Accenture reporting an extraordinary 33% year-on-year decline in accessing TV shows and movies from traditional TV sets among 14 to 17 year-olds, with a corresponding or even greater increase in viewing on multi-screen devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. There is a less startling but still significant switch from TVs to multi-screen devices among older age groups, spanning all major markets and all content types, including live sports as well as TV shows and movies. 

To meet this challenge, pay-TV operators and broadcasters are investing heavily in the infrastructure to deliver premium content to an increasingly diverse range of target connected devices. While there are industry efforts to converge around common standards for streaming and encryption, notably MPEG-DASH, operators must cope with a fast expanding array of DRMs to enforce rights on the target multiscreen platforms. Various reports have highlighted the rapid growth in the global DRM market associated with the multiscreen revolution, with one from business consulting firm RNCOS predicting that global DRM revenues are increasing at a compound annual rate of 25% to reach $2.96 billion in 2017, up from $997.2 million in 2012. 

For pay-TV operators the challenge lies not so much in the overall volume but the associated increase in the number of different DRMs they have to address. As new devices emerge they tend to come with their own native DRM support tailored to the specific design of the hardware. This is fragmenting the overall service delivery ecosystem and complicating the task of reaching all target platforms for OTT content delivery, at a time when rate of deployment is accelerating rapidly. Budgets are coming under pressure as operators face a choice between stepping up investment in OTT infrastructures and allowing competitors to come in and usurp their revenues, as well as their customers, through compelling online content offerings. 

Against this background of DRM proliferation, service providers are having to strengthen their overall security framework for delivery of premium content over the Internet to multi-screen devices, including high end services like early release-window Ultra HD, where licensing terms require additional protection technologies including forensic watermarking. 

This can only be accomplished in practice by providing a layer between the underlying security mechanisms and the higher-level service related components. Verimatrix delivers this “black box” abstraction capability through our MultiRights technology, which hides the complexities of administering multiple security domains, and in particular the DRM management servers, from the overall subscriber rights management system in the operator’s head-end. 

In this way, MultiRights caters to the continuing existence of multiple DRMs, which is essential, given that attempts to create a single one-size-fits-all DRM free from royalties have completely failed. Operators can then deploy OTT services through a single rights management platform that will meet all content protection requirements and absorb changes in security schemes as they occur. 

For more details on the role of MultiRights in OTT deployments, download our guide on Making Sense of OTT Revenue Security.

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