Everyone wants the flexibility of online TV with the seamless channel transitions and viewing quality of broadcast. But giving consumers the best of both worlds means that providers will have to think outside “the box”.

Content is King! Or is it? 
You’re channel surfing Sunday night. You grab a snack and the remote and start clicking. Channels fly by as fast as you can hit the button. Eventually, something grabs your attention and you settle in. Mindless channel switching is a relaxing and familiar part of the TV experience. On broadcast TV, seamless channel transitions are possible because the underlying security technology is completely transparent to viewers. Specifically, conditional access is able to deliver instant access to purchased content.

But on OTT, it’s another story. Unfortunately most OTT services can’t deliver the same experience for viewers because of the limitations inherent in DRM technology. Switching between OTT channels can cause a 4-second or longer delay, which is particularly exasperating during live broadcasts. Waiting 4 seconds for a soccer match to appear on your screen could mean missing a goal! A successful OTT business means offering compelling content, particularly LIVE content, but equally as important, being able to deliver a great viewing experience.

A high DRM bar for online live TV 
Live sports or events will ultimately drive your online TV service, just as it does your broadcast business. The bad news is that the high value of live programming, such as sport, means content owners will want you to implement more than just garden-variety DRM to protect it. Rights holders will often demand you use key rotation to broadcast their live content online. With key rotation, the DRM will have to retrieve a new authentication key (causing a 4-second delay) every 10-15 minutes during a single broadcast. Needless to say, continuous interruptions during an event will not be popular with viewers. And the barrage of authentication requests means you’ll need a much larger infrastructure footprint to handle the load.

Will OTT make or break you? 
Being able to provide the speed and smoothness of broadcast TV will be key to maximizing uptake of your OTT service, especially for live TV. And of course, you’ll need to keep back-end costs under control at the same time. It’s a complicated issue. And there are potentially different ways to address the problem. For example, Microsoft, Envivio and Irdeto have formed a partnership that will be the first to make it possible to provide a great live TV experience to millions of simultaneous viewers on any screen. If you are ready to take your OTT service to the next level, this is one solution you can deploy now and offer live TV that’s truly “over the top”.