Research: Content protection key to Internet video profitability

Consumers increasingly want to access video content across the various video-capable devices they own, and service providers, content owners, online video distributors and device manufacturers are all keen to provide it. However, new technologies are urgently needed to secure multiplatform video content against piracy and unauthorised access, according to a major new report – Content Protection for Multiplatform & Internet Video: Who’s Doing What – from market research firm Heavy Reading

“Content owners will not allow their content to be distributed on a platform that is vulnerable to piracy,” explains Aditya Kishore, Senior Analyst of Heavy Reading and author of the report. “However, consumers want to be able to access copies of their purchased content across devices. The entire value chain needs a secure but flexible way to support multiplatform video. In addition, this solution must enable a wide variety of business models and usage rules to help drive new revenue,” she advises.

However, content protection technology across different platforms is not always compatible, according to Kishore. “Also, all content protection mechanisms may not support all usage rules, so users may not be able to access or transfer some content at some times. The networks and devices themselves have differing capabilities, so they may not be able to support the same security mechanisms. Further, all these content protection solutions need to interoperate with a single, centralised subscriber account. All these challenges must be resolved to make multiplatform video a success,” she says.

Other key findings include:

– Multiplatform video is gaining momentum. A Heavy Reading survey of service providers around the world revealed that 76 per cent of respondents agreed that multiplatform video would be an important requirement for their business within the next five years. Of these, 38 per cent strongly agreed. When asked what would make them prioritise multiplatform video more, 25 per cent said it was already a top priority.

– Content owners will not license their content for distribution to additional devices without adequate safeguards being built in. Content owners must be able to reasonably satisfy themselves that they will be able to control the distribution of their content. This is also an essential requirement for service providers. Unlicensed access to TV content on other platforms will not just affect potential new revenue; it will cannibalise existing pay TV revenue, as well.

– Emerging standards and cross-platform solutions look promising. Industry initiatives bringing together multiple industry stakeholders have made progress. Initiatives such as Marlin and the DECE’s UltraViolet have the potential to drive a simpler approach to multiplatform video deployment. However, both approaches are unproven and at a very early stage.

– A viable multiplatform content protection system must be able to authenticate and authorise access to the video title regardless of the device. It must also support multiple delivery models, multiple pricing and packaging models, and allow for untethered access to content. Obviously, it must also be highly secure and protect the content from any kind of attack. It should also be invisible to the legitimate consumer.

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