Multiscreen DRM: Shifting Sands and Moving Targets

Multiple Screens, Multiple DRM Schemes One of the many issues for cable companies to contend with as they continue their efforts toward becoming multiscreen, multi-network operators is the need to support the digital rights management (DRM) schemes used by different browsers and devices.

Being able to do so is becoming increasingly important. Operators need to extend their services outside the traditional set-top and offer essentially the same content to consumer devices inside and outside the home.

"If they don't do that, then their competitive position is weakened because companies offering pure OTT services with content specialization can chip away at available revenue for that household," said Steve Christian, SVP of marketing at Verimatrix.

Early on, content owners wanted to restrict delivery rights, but the tendency recently has been to expand agreements to allow operators to offer content on multiple screens and devices. Likewise, there seems to be some effort at convergence in adaptive bitrate streaming protocols around MPEG-DASH. However, there doesn't appear to be movement on the DRM side, with the Internet giants, like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) with Android and Chrome, creating more proprietary silos and making it more difficult for operators to smoothly navigate rights management, Christian said.

"This seems to be the way the politics are working right now," Christian said. "The benefits accrue to (having) your own ecosystem of browsers, client device types and tablets, but it does make life more complicated for those people in the video industry who need to deliver across device types."

The average household may have five to 10 devices, all of which consumers may want to use at some point for video display. And while the video delivery model for these devices continues to move toward an app-based environment, browsers still come into play, meaning that operators must take them and the associated DRM differences into account.

"If a video service works in one browser, but not another, this makes no sense to (viewers)," Christian said. "If a video service works on an iPad, but not a smart TV, does that make any sense?  All these things are consumer hostile. The goal of the operator is to try to offer the same service across the number of devices that is commercially reasonable."

Not only is DRM technology across platforms and devices slightly different in terms of enforcement, but licensing rights may also differ depending on the type of content. For example, premium UltraHD content may only be available to certain types of devices to ensure security. In addition, the DRM infrastructure is dynamic, meaning that the technology on client devices gets updated frequently as operating systems and model types change.

"It is the maintenance challenge ... the lifecycle management issues that dominate people's minds when deciding to do DRM in-house," Christian said.

Verimatrix offers a so-called black box solution, MultiRights, as part of its overall Video Content Authority System (VCAS) platform. "Our role is to make sure the consumer doesn't notice the difference between device types and the operator doesn't need to manage device types in a different way."

Ultimately, having a proven DRM solution in place may make it easier for providers to secure rights in the first place, particularly with premium content like UltraHD, Christian said. "What does the content owner want to see in terms of the overall security envelope when they license content to you? There is a benefit for the video service provider to relying on a brand image and technology. Otherwise, they have to defend each technology decision they take on a case-by-case basis."

Get the Broadband Technology Report Newsletters Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to email newsletters today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • Video Technology
  • Network Technology
  • Technology Alerts
  • BTR LATAM (Latin America)

SCTE-Cable Tec Expo 2016 Video Show Dailies

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

In our Video Show Daily for Day 3 of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy covers trends in distrib...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

In our Video Show Daily for the second day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy highlights furt...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy reviews the hot technologies and announcements from the first day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016 in P...

Diamond Technology Reviews - 2016 High Scores

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

BTR's Diamond Technology Reviews, now in its twelfth year, is a technology recognition program wherein vendors serving the broadband cable ...

Related Articles

Cable ONE

2 More AZ Towns Get Cable ONE Gigabit

October 7, 2016

Cable ONE (NYSE:CABO) is expanding its GigaONE gigabit Internet footprin...


Comcast Launches Enterprise IoT Trial

October 6, 2016

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced machineQ, a business trial venture focu...


2016 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Wrap Up

Whether you couldn't make it to Cable-Tec this year or want to see if you missed anything while you were there, you'll want to join BTR editors Stephen Hardy and Ron Hendrickson as they reveal their picks for the...

October 12, 2016
Sponsored by

Counting the cost: Efficiently transitioning from HFC to FTTH

HFC networks are uniquely positioned to provide compelling and competitive services, and are also uniquely positioned to transition to symmetrical FTTH as commercial requirements demand.  This webinar will d...

Date:September 22, 2016
Sponsored by

Maintaining High Quality of Experience in an Adaptive Bitrate System

This webinar will look at the many points in an ABR system where the video is touched.  From ingest (satellite, file, and IP), to egress, each point should be qualified for compliance to help maintain a high...

Date:August 25, 2016
Sponsored by

White Papers & Special Reports

Cable VoIP 2.0: Voice Moves to the Cloud

October 2016

Cable providers led the charge on the VoIP evolution and won customers and market share. Now voice networks are evolving again. The cloud voice platform has ...

Understanding Ultra High Definition Television

October 2016

Over the last 10 years, high definition television (HDTV) has been replacing standard definition television as the expected viewing format for television pro...

Are You Ready for DOCSIS 3.1? The Future of Cable Technology and How to Prepare Your Network

October 2016

DOCSIS 3.1 promises 10x capacity throughput and a range of technical benefits for cable providers and users alike. Are you ready? Discover the technical adva...

BTR Blogs

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

FCC Rethinks Set-Top Plan

September 10, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - The FCC has reworked the "unlock the set-top b...


In Memoriam: Richard Covell

August 18, 2016

By Rob Stuehrk, Publisher - We at Broadband Technology Report were sadde...

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

Court Overturns FCC Municipal Broadband Order

August 11, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - You win some, and you lose some, and the FCC just l...

Featured Hangouts

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this inf...

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

Watch a 30-minute video chat of experts from a variety of related disciplines discuss how close deployments really ar...

Featured Hangout

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this informative Hangout on demand by clicking the link above.

Sponsored by Verimatrix.