Advanced Television

Analyst: Content protection vendors must become one-stop shop

August 7, 2017

The global content protection market is transforming, and participants must adapt or fail. Internet protocol (IP) is creating widespread disruption, notes analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. Consumer preferences are shifting from live-linear bouquets of channels toward over-the-top (OTT) and television everywhere (TVE). Consumer electronic (CE) devices are outselling set-top boxes (STBs) 10 to 1, and cord cutting continues to gather steam. Digital rights management (DRM) secure players and watermarking are gaining wallet share, even as traditional CAS spending plateaus. Overall, the nature of pay-TV is changing and content protection technologies must adapt to secure content and revenue wherever it is viewed and however it is delivered, says the firm.

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Global Content Protection Market, Forecast to 2021, finds market revenues will grow from nearly $1.7 billion in 2016 to just shy of $2 billion by 2021, at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 3.4 per cent. The study examines current revenues and future growth potential of the content protection market in terms of four application segments: IPTV, cable, satellite, direct-to-home (DTH), and other service (including online services and pay DTT); in terms of protection type (CAS, DRM, and other); and by region (North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific).

“The pay-TV market has morphed from being a controlled and predictable broadcast ecosystem to an evolving morass of fragmentation across devices, platforms, standards, technologies and interoperability,” said Streaming Media Practice Head Mukul Krishna. “Content protection vendors that can expand beyond client-based, hardware-dependent product lines to fully empower expanding pay-TV content services will see success.”

Expansion of OTT and TVE services will increase expenditure on DRM, multi-DRM, and secure player solutions, while upgrades to hybrid STBs combined with the imminent growth in 4K will drive demand for higher-end solutions.

Growth opportunities will revolve around:

  • Cable Upgrades and IP-fication: As cable networks are upgraded, content quality increases, as does support for interactivity. Head-end upgrades allow CAS switch-out, while STB upgrades drive unit sales.
  • Cardless CAS: Cardless offers lower cost with equivalent security to hardware CAS in many use cases.
  • Multi-DRM: These solutions offer parity between linear broadcast and OTT/TVE for rising on-demand, device-based viewing.
  • Secure Playback: This is a crucial functionality in apps and browsers to deliver a secure, managed playback experience on devices.
  • High-end Content Protection: With growth in 4K and early release pay-per-view (PPV), top-tier DTH vendors still seek the best security available.

While several changes in technology and standards, including the exit of Flash and Smooth Streaming technologies, consolidation of HTML5/EME, and advent of common media application format (CMAF) to bridge HTTP live streaming (HLS) and dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP (DASH), will address fragmentation on the DRM side, issues remain in terms of support for legacy devices and varying options for packet-level encryption.

“Content protection vendors must become a one-stop shop, developing in-house competency and establishing partnerships and reseller arrangements, to enable secure cross-platform, multi-screen delivery for operators,” summed up Krishna. “Truly agile vendors will think beyond pure security and seek to become comprehensive content protection and content monetisation partners.”

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