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special report OTT 2.0

No one can deny the disruptive effect that over the top (OTT) video has had on the pay TV industry. Over the past year, we have seen progressive pay TV operators add OTT services by leveraging new and emerging technologies to support and monetise video content for enhanced ARPU, increased subscriber loyalty and expanded advertising dollars. It has become hard to ignore the potential - and power - of this type of delivery system. Savvy operators, however, have begun to envision the next phase of OTT video. What does OTT 2.0 look like? And how can they ensure that their networks are able to quickly adapt and scale to future requirements? Steve Christian and TomPollard from Verimatrix report.

OTT 2.0: securing advanced video delivery


erhaps that question is best answered by first taking a quick look at the current OTT video landscape. It seems that the trend today leans heavily toward a

security configuration with digital rights management (DRM) technologies in multiple competing ‘silos’. This approach presents many

challenges: managing multiple silos is cumbersome, not only from a logistics and workflow perspective, but also from an integration standpoint. Operators may feel compelled to try to adopt a single DRM standard to support large scale media distribution, an approach that may actually be counter- productive. Interoperability can be a difficult problem when dealing with a set of technologies that are, in general, highly proprietary in nature. Consider this - admittedly over-

simplified - analogy: choosing one DRM to support multiple devices is akin to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Since most proprietary DRM solutions only support a predetermined range of devices and/or streaming formats, it requires significant engineering from the entire ecosystem value chain to hammer that peg into the hole. Think of Microsoft’s PlayReady security on Apple iOS devices that are employing the HTTP Live Streaming protocol. While such a configuration may be technically feasible, the forced combination of such disparate technologies is inherently problematic and costly, and

ultimately unnecessary. A ‘single DRM for all devices’

Demonstrating robust protection techniques will enable some operators to obtain higher value material - such as early release HD movies. It should be noted that OTT 2.0 will require security that is equivalent in protection and features to those currently available for more mature pay-TV networks like managed IPTV and DVB.

approach can also be quite expensive, and potentially result in a technologically fragile platform. While operators may be willing to take on the added expense of the limited ecosystem that accompanies a non- standard solution, unfortunately many often find that the increased total cost of ownership (TCO) does not come with a guarantee that the solution will perform as desired or expected due to technological limitations. These challenges can easily be addressed, however, if the DRM silos are unified via a higher level and singular ‘rights management’ abstraction, while letting the DRM servers operate unimpeded, much like ‘black boxes’.

DASH-ing toward the future

Adopting a non-proprietary, open DRM scheme can support this unified rights management approach. Because of the many challenges that a non- harmonised rights management approach presents, it is anticipated that in the future, operators will increasingly move toward adopting open DRM frameworks such as those offered by the MPEG-DASH consortia. DASH-based clients form a new

class with special properties that have been designed into the DASH standard. The format of the media delivery becomes unified, but the device authentication and key management processes for secure delivery remain flexible.

80 l ibe l september/october 2012 l MPEG-DASH helps open up the

universe of multi-network, multi- screen and multi-operator delivery to a new range of standards-compliant smart device screens. And, by doing so, it could greatly accelerate the growth of new services and revenue streams for multi-network operators. When deployed in combination with the other robust revenue protection mechanisms, a whole new generation of premium services is likely to become available in the market. A common streaming format (CSF), for instance, can enable new types of video consumption. Other advantages include not being harnessed to a single vendor scheme for a long period of time, reduced TCO and an enhanced quality of experience (QoE) for the subscriber. As DASH comes into commercial

use, many operators are employing advanced protection mechanisms that will enable them to upgrade their distribution networks for content delivered to any DASH compatible client. Such protection mechanisms should take a unified approach to multi-network security - one that features a single way to express rights across multiple networks independent of device type and particulars of the DRM or conditional access (CA) system scheme implemented on those devices. This type of ‘black box’ or

harmonised rights management delivery strategy removes the complexity of unifying different native DRM schemes on a range of devices

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