How do OTT players protect their valuable content?

The rapidly growing digital media business and the emergence of new players in the OTT content space has led to bigger investments not only in licensing and distribution but also into original content creation. The subscription-based business model followed by OTT platforms can only be profitable if the content is exclusive and subscribers can be retained. The immediate availability of the content on millions of devices makes it vulnerable to piracy. A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NERA Economic Consulting has estimated that piracy alone costs the U.S. economy USD 29.2 billion in lost revenue each year.

Digital rights management (DRM) is an effective way of protecting streaming content and preventing unauthorized use. This technology ensures that when premium content with DRM video protection in place is uploaded onto an OTT platform, its metadata is stored safely, to be retrieved only when needed by the client. It uses a cryptographic key to encode and encrypt content, which makes it safe for it to be transmitted from the platform server to the user device. The user’s media player now needs to have the specific license information sent by the DRM server to be able to play the encrypted content. Under the DRM scheme, authentic viewing and usage is facilitated by a certificate exchange between the DRM client and the license server, thereby releasing content on trusted playback systems alone.

However, encryption alone is not enough to prevent leakages through URL and keys sharing. DRM solutions offer additional functionalities such as “tokens” to ensure the integrity of incoming content requests, “entitlements” linked to the customer management systems to control which services the customers can access and “HTTPs” to ensure the confidentiality of the stream. Multi-DRM systems, which have license management features for multiple devices and operating systems, provide a cost-effective solution to stream content across multiple devices, browsers, TVs and consoles. These solutions generally use the MPEG-CENC standard to enable DRM on multiple devices. A single key is associated with multiple DRMs and their metadata is simultaneously added when the customer requests for content. The license mapping and acquisition is then carried out by the individual DRMs, and the player on the user device decides which DRM is to be used for the video playback.

The “just-in-time” feature offered by many of the multi-DRM systems allows the content packaging as and when requested by the client.

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