Content security is one of the most complex issues associated with OTT TV. We have asked Steve Christian, VP Marketing at Verimatrix, to give us the DRM / Conditional Access perspective of OTT TV (Verimatrix provides software-based security solutions for service providers).

Steve, What do you think are the main reasons behind pay TV operators expanding into the Over-the-Top Space?

A key driver is to be able to cover the bases of additional screens in the home, which from a defensive perspective would gather eyeballs of competitive or niche services. From a more positive standpoint this raises the competitive bar for other pay-TV operators in the same franchise area or region. Another reason is to be able to expand the geographic reach of the operator’s service brand beyond the existing subscriber pool, potentially to a worldwide audience.

What are the greatest challenges associated with content protection in the pay-OTT space?

The greatest challenge is awareness of content protection issues at a high level, and the details of how this must be supported at fine grain level. It seems that after an initial burst of “free to everyone” video service euphoria, it feels that the industry is rediscovering all the pay-TV security issues and threats that drove the evolution of traditional conditional access (CA) systems for the past 20 years. Amongst the fine grain issues are the needs for device identification and authentication – to securely associate a specific device with a payment method and the distributed responsibility for other hardware security support features in the target devices.

What do you see for the future of hybrid TV (that combines OTT and other delivery methods)?

This is where the money is at in our opinion. OTT by itself does not deliver on all service promises, whereas a deft combination of managed network delivery and OTT delivery can hit a number of important bases:

1.  Very high, television quality presentation on the main screen of the household or home theater installation.

2. Enable business models that include early release window material.

3. Enable seamless catch-up services over unicast connections.

4. Merge program guide navigation for managed and unmanaged network content feeds.

With constantly increasing availability of content and proliferation of devices, will the role that DRM plays change significantly 4-5 years from today?

The role of a security solution – whether it is called DRM, CA or something else – is purely to protect revenue streams associated with content creation and service distribution. Until actors, studios and other stakeholders in this business turn into charities, which we obviously think will not happen, that role will continue to be central to our mission. What may well change is the technologies used and the relationships with device vendors – the important innovations in protection implementation will probably be driven in conjunction with the technical standards for content and streaming that are now being finalized.

What are the greatest benefits that Verimatrix can bring to a pay TV provider interested in launching an OTT service?

Our value comes in alignment with their business goals and the extent to which we can help solve their operational and customer experience issues. With our multi-network and multi-screen support from a single security system, we provide end-users a transparent experience with no need to concern themselves with which CA or DRM system is used. This drives customer satisfaction and the operators’ business growth and profitability.

How do you think the STB market will be affected by the rise in Connected TV adoption? How do you see CTVs affecting pay TV providers in general?

STBs owned and distributed by operators may still have an important role in hybrid networks, but it is probably true that the number of such devices in the home will tend to be proportionally lower in the future, when connected TV and tablets will become the significant consumption points integrated within the service delivery environment. However, STB makers have been adept at finding new STB functionality and hence the justification for those devices, and we do not believe that STBs will become extinct any time soon. For Verimatrix, this is a very exciting time to see our client device security becoming increasingly relevant in so many different device formats!

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