OTT video – open browser, hit play and watch. But for how much longer?

Up to now, your viewers open their browser, go to your website, hit play and it just works. Right?

On web browsers, DRM plugins are being phased out. Next month, both PC and MAC users will be affected when Google stops support for the Silverlight plugin on Chrome. So, how is this impacting your viewer base?

Chrome may be first, but others will follow
Chrome has 30-40% of the browser market. Only a minority of your viewers will understand why they are now unable to watch the video they are entitled to. And this is just the start of an industry wide evolution. All browser vendors are moving to embed a specific DRM for each of their platforms. Things are going to become more complex and fragmented. Offering an OTT service with a single DRM will be a thing of the past. The only way forward is to support multiple DRMs.

Tip of the OTT technology iceberg
But needing to support multiple DRMs to reach all the most popular web platforms is only one part of it. This evolution also requires changes to the content packaging solutions and players, so that your customers can continue enjoying your valuable sports events or film titles. See our full analysis in the explanatory document DRM changes on web browsers – what impact for your business?

Impact on OTT businesses
These changes will particularly impact the operation of all OTT services. The complexity of managing a multi-technology platform will throw the operational limitations into the spotlight. With no common interface to back office functions such as subscriber management, entitlement management or fraud prevention, an integrated system to manage different technologies will be increasingly critical.

For example, playback limitation on number of devices is frequently imposed as a condition by content owners when licensing content for OTT services. This is relatively easy to implement when only one DRM is involved. With multiple DRMs, however, OTT operators will need to enforce this rule across all end-user devices, independently of the choice of technologies.

Unlike a broadcast TV service involving a set-top box, users can switch to another OTT service with the click of a mouse if your video doesn’t play on their browser. Could users just download another browser if it doesn’t work on Chrome? Sure they can, but would you be willing to bet that 30-40% of your viewer base is going to do that?

Flexibility is the way forward
As the market shifts inevitably towards multi-DRM support, the focus for OTT service providers will need to evolve. It is not about choosing a single platform or “killer” technology, but meeting the consumer where they are. You need a flexible ecosystem that enables any technology combination, on any platform.

Now, and for the future.