The video services industry is experiencing a steady technological shift towards networks and other infrastructure components that will be fundamentally based on IP technologies, signaling a movement away from a hardware-defined value proposition to one that is more software-centric and adaptable.
This shift opens up a realm of possibilities for more dynamic presentation, discovery and real-time usage feedback, and serves as the foundation of a “software-empowered v ideo operator” model, in which pay-TV operators capitalize on some already mature and some still-maturing software-based technologies and standards in order to populate, power and manage a flexible suite of resources that exist in data centers and across the network infrastructure.
Operators embarking on the journey to a software-centric video service delivery system stand to gain an advantage that propels them beyond the current limitations of their physical resources and enable them to better respond to new standards, new opportunities and the changing market dynamics.
Optimizing Revenue Security
Security, in all its forms, is a continuing concern for video operators as they move towards a software-empowered model, particularly when the physical boundaries of a head-end become less well defined. An even greater concern is that the introduction of higher resolution, more valuable content services, such as UHD/4K, are matched by enhanced security approaches that must employ as much next-generation techniques as commercially reasonable.
Software-empowered models definitely require a new vision of revenue security that is a substantial leap forward from most of the current offerings. Legacy smartcard based CA systems have no place in this new vision.
The hardware-based, client centric, connectionless operational approach that dictated prior generations of security offerings is gradually becoming irrelevant. The new generation of software-based, IP-centric security solutions, where control and integrity can be managed at the point of service origin, are especially well aligned with the vision of a more dynamic, flexible and extensible value proposition that will drive the new marketplace.
The key security elements of this new vision
should include :
•Cloud-based security functionality as a core ca pability of the video head-end. In a more connected paradigm, secure server resources will handle rights and key management through a distributed implementation approach that is pushed out to each screen as needed, rather than relying on native local security subsystems at each and every device where the tendency is to attack the weakest link.
•Support for a highly dynamic approach to content management and usage rights windows. A more intuitive presentation of content is the lesson of the online world. When combined with an aggressive approach to “freemium” promotion and a real-time response to audience behavior that is a design feature of the security solution, an operator has the tools to maximize commercial potential.
•Standards-based encryption algorithms and content identification formatting practices to ensure economies of scale in consumer device implementations. Additionally, standards can enable a seamless workflow between security regimes that includes post-production all the way through distribution without intermediate “security holes”.
•Enhanced approaches to rights revocation and client renewability in anticipation of recent Movielabs UHD/4K specification guidance. The recent Movielabs publications were written with an eye to the failures of past, hardware-centric solutions that did not sufficiently anticipate, and even less respond to, the trajectory of future revenue threats.
•A holistic security system that can apply the right security techniques to a specific service model. Moving forward with premium and UHD/4K content, this will definitely include key management security integrated with forensic video watermarking and other defensive measures.
•Security that is component architected with the rest of the ecosystem touch points very much in mind. The end is in sight for the single-vendor monolithic video solutions that we have seen in the past.
The landscape is much brighter for specialist vendors that have proven component integration points — often standards centric — with other members of a deployment ecosystem. The result is less vendor lock in and significant reduction in deployment risk.
Leveraging Software for an Expanded Value Proposition
By highlighting the seminal technological and commercial pressure points that are shaping the next generation video operator landscape, it becomes clear how the broader use of software-centric infrastructure and components can empower service providers to create a more compelling value proposition for their subscribers.
Consider for example Swedish operator Com Hem, which recently launched a new advanced multi-screen TV service. The service integrates cable, IPTV and OTT experiences across set top box (STB) STB and consumer electronic (CE) platforms and takes cross platform personalization and unification to a new level using highly developed TiVo technology.
Com Hem's broadcast and hybrid set-top boxes also feature advanced cardless security that complements enhanced HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) support for PC/Mac, tablet and mobile devices — all from a harmonized rights management platform.
With its new multi-screen and multi-network video services solution, Com Hem is launching not only a new way of television viewing, but a newway to view content, anytime, anywhere on any device.
Service providers adopting a software-empowered model – such as Com Hem – will be able to better contain network costs while increasing security, operational efficiencies, and enable flexible business models that can address the expanding range of consumer viewing experiences—anytime, anywhere. Simply put, operators will be able to create significant differentiation from its competitors to achieve market longevity.