More devices, more delivery – more complexity?

Monday, May 07, 2012

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VideoGuard Connect helps enable Sky to deliver content to Android devices, iPhones, iPads and the iPod
Content owners are often hesitant in allowing operators to implement OTT delivery, particularly over unmanaged networks or to devices that they are not confident are adequately secure. To put this in context, you wouldn’t put your valuables in a safe without a lock, so why should they?

Leonid Sandler, Chief Technology Officer, DRM technologies at NDS discusses how DRM for pay-TV, removes the complexity in deploying multi-platform services.

We began securing content on devices in the 80’s– the device in question and the networks serving those devices just happened to be the set-top box and satellite delivery (soon thereafter cable and latterly IP); Over-the-Top (OTT) is the latest delivery mechanism that along with new devices poses an additional opportunity to reach the subscriber – in new and exciting ways.

As a consumer the proposition is clear; I want to view my content when I want and on the device I want, for the operator the missing pieces are now in place to enable them to realise that eventuality – the proliferation of connected media ready devices and the increase in available bandwidth now mean that the basic infrastructure is there to enable delivery of content to devices, not to mention the demand by consumers who have now come to expect such services.

Coming from the world of television we believe that quality content, ease of navigation and robustness of the system are crucial to the success of pay-TV and this is equally true for multi-platform services. Subscriber’s expectations are driven by their experience of existing broadcast services, for established operator brands this leaves no margin for error and little for experimentation – an operator brand purveys a certain level of expectation that isn’t an issue for new entrants to the market. 

While supporting additional devices does undoubtedly present new challenges for operators, multi-platform also offers a tremendous opportunity for operators and technology providers to enable a new generation of cross-platform back-end services ranging from personalised recommendations and offers, to the flexibility to pick up a programme on a different screen in the middle of viewing, or to provide a consistent look and feel on all platforms – to name just a few. All in all, deploying a multi-platform solution can offer so much more than just launching a branded iPad app featuring TV content. If implemented correctly, multi-platform services have the potential to increase satisfaction for existing subscribers and to attract additional ones from across a multitude of demographics. As service providers look to implement next generation multi-platform services including linear, VOD, streaming or download and catch-up, restart or network DVR functionality to enable subscribers with greater viewing flexibility and unilateral access to their content and services - NDS is on hand to make it a reality.

The complexity of delivering to a broader set of devices, that aren’t necessarily owned and/or supplied by the operator, whether these are games consoles, PCs, or iPads, can be a major concern – particularly for content owners. Content owners are often hesitant in allowing operators to implement OTT delivery, particularly over unmanaged networks or to devices that they are not confident are adequately secure. To put this in context, you wouldn’t put your valuables in a safe without a lock, so why should they?
VideoGuard Connect, the DRM for multi-platform pay-TV from NDS, is our solution to the security challenge. In order to deliver a studio approved DRM solution, we’ve worked closely with content owners to ensure that their security requirements are met to enable wider availability of their content on devices through pay-TV services. VideoGuard Connect has been approved for use by all of the major US studios including Disney, Fox, HBO, NBC Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros.

VideoGuard Connect enables the secure delivery, ingestion and consumption of premium content on the most popular devices including the PC, Mac, games consoles, connected TVs, iOS and Android mobiles and tablets –over both managed and unmanaged OTT networks.  Since its launch in September 2011, NDS has seen VideoGuard Connect deployed by some of the world’s leading pay-TV platforms, a customer base that requires the most robust DRM systems on the market.

As the natural evolution of NDS’ DRM offering and the result of more than two decades of investment by NDS in developing unparalleled security, VideoGuard Connect is an end-to-end system that integrates seamlessly into existing broadcast systems to provide multi-platform service protection to secure the integrity of an operator’s platform and facilitate content rights acquisition. It provides a versatile and holistic approach to multi-platform content protection and, unlike other DRM systems, VideoGuard Connect proactively modifies critical DRM components to ensure potential threats are neutralised before they can affect the service being delivered. 

In an expanding and rapidly changing market, flexibility and scalability are key considerations in any operator’s strategy and VideoGuard Connect enables its customers to address new threats, modes of delivery and formats to provide the best possible viewing experiences. Furthermore it fully supports the introduction of new services in a changeable environment characterised by the continual introduction of new devices.
While the number of devices supported in a multi-screen environment and the user experience are important considerations for any next generation TV service, NDS firmly believes that the cornerstone of any pay-TV proposition is, and will always remain, the quality of content an operator can offer its subscribers.

The success seen by VideoGuard Connect deployments to date coupled with the ever expanding market for connected entertainment devices and the precedent set by OTT delivery, highlights that the potential for multi-screen services to shake up the broadcast market is unquestionable.  NDS recognises the importance of ensuring its content protection technologies address the needs of its operator customers across their entire end-to-end infrastructure. 

Customer deployments
Since launch, VideoGuard Connect has been deployed by leading global pay-TV platforms, including BSkyB, DIRECTV and Cox Communications.

As part of its multi-platform service, BSkyB, the UK’s number one pay-TV brand, has made a wide selection of its premium content available to subscribers across a multitude of devices under the Sky Go brand. VideoGuard Connect helps enable Sky to deliver content to Android devices, iPhones, iPads and the iPod touch in line with a user’s subscription. Utilising content delivery optimisation technology from NDS, VideoGuard Connect helps enable the Sky Go service to offer a high-quality live TV experience when on the move in the UK and Ireland, via 3G or Wi-Fi. This includes both linear streaming and on-demand content from some of its most popular channels and also bundles in access to premier league football and a wide selection of films. The Sky Go service has seen phenomenal growth since launch – gaining more than 2.5 million users according to BSkyB’s last financial results and with 1.5 million unique users in December 2011 alone across games consoles, PCs, smartphones and tablets. The Android service launched in February this year and is available across a multitude of devices.

DIRECTV has a number of initiatives underway that are aimed at providing flexible access to its content and services. The operator’s decision to use VideoGuard Connect to enable a broad range of linear and on-demand OTT and home networking services protected by NDS DRM provides access to content and services on a multitude of devices both at home and on-the-go. In conjunction with DIRECTV’s existing pay-TV solutions from NDS, VideoGuard Connect enables the seamless addition of OTT and home networking content distribution to multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, iOS and Android-based mobile and tablet devices. 

Cox Communications, the third largest cable TV provider in the US, uses VideoGuard Connect to secure its iPad service – TV Connect. Delivering up to 35 of its highest profile linear channels for subscribers to view anywhere in the home. Owing to content rights, the Cox TV Connect service is currently limited to the home; VideoGuard Connect enforces the parameters outlined by content owners to enable the service to meet the necessary requirements.   The service has seen notable uptake with subscribers following its launch in December 2011, TV Connect now serves more than 130,000 iPads. Cox plans to extend the service to the iPhone during 2012, and will add further live channels, also enabling access to its VOD library for additional on-demand content.


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