Operating a pay TV service used to be (relatively) simple: encode your content, then encrypt and deliver it with a key over closed networks to set top boxes. But the road to a TV Everywhere offering is much more difficult, with roadblocks driving up total cost of ownership.
A tricky road to TV Everywhere
There are many barriers to combining pay media services on broadcast and OTT. Content now has to be encoded, encrypted and stored in multiple resolutions, using different containers and DRM combinations. Constant shifts in device and browser markets require new media containers and DRM formats. This means more copies to store and distribute.
Worse still, separate management systems often lead to duplicated effort to keep content and service information current. And the more systems an operator has, the higher the support cost… not to mention the painful process of integration with subscriber management, billing and OSS platforms.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to maintain consistent user experiences when applications share little (if any) code base. Managing usage rules such as studio-enforced caps on the number of views, devices or concurrent streams per subscriber adds further complexity.
MPEG DASH Drives down cost
But there is a short cut: many operators find MPEG DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) allows them to by-pass many of these TV Everywhere roadblocks.
This open-standard streaming technology is codec and DRM agnostic. So operators can encode, encrypt and store their content once, but unlock it with different DRM keys depending on the target device. With the right conditional access system, you can even use the same video file for both broadcast and OTT, unlocking it with a CA or DRM key that works with DASH’s common encryption.
Suddenly the TV Everywhere journey is much quicker, with reduced expenditure on packagers, storage and file delivery. New protection technologies can be quickly added, so long as they support common encryption. At the same time, operators can share much of their application code base, including HTML5 players across browsers and DRMs, reducing application development expenses while promoting a consistent user experience.
Of course, most operators will still need to support Apple’s HLS for some time to come. But even Apple is moving towards DASH compliance. More on that in a later post.
The true fast lane includes a unified head-end
But the true fast lane to cost reduction comes when operators simplify content preparation AND unify their content protection in a single, hybrid head-end. If the head-end abstracts usage controls and license parameters entirely from the underlying DRM and CA technologies, the operator can set consistent business rules for the whole subscriber base from a single management interface. This gives the operator better control of and visibility into who watches what content and on what devices.
By implementing MPEG DASH and the right hybrid head-end, the operator will fast track their success to a consistent TV Everywhere service that’s easy and cost effective to manage.