December 2016


By: Steve Christian, SVP of Marketing, Verimatrix

Today’s video service operators are pressured to quickly roll out online services to supplement their current revenue streams through apps or via the browser.

Yet, delivering vivid, compelling, premium content experiences to every flavor of device and platform in play is a complicated and expensive proposition. Considering that profitability relies on both increased revenues and decreased total cost of ownership, video service providers need to find a way to cost-effectively and consistently deliver premium content across the growing roster of screens.

Research from Frost & Sullivan research reveals that the perceived high cost of a commercial DRM system and perceived low complexity of building DRM in-house are compelling well over half of video service operators and online video publishers (OVPs) today to attempt to build their own security platforms.

Outlined below are three of the most common misconceptions that lead operators and OVPs to try a do-it-yourself approach.


As vendors bow to pricing pressure and competition, there is a growing perception that DRM is increasingly becoming “free.” Although the upfront licensing cost for the DRM core is steadily declining, it typically comprises only a small fraction of the total cost of ownership.

The core is seldom adequate on its own and must be augmented with a full-fledged client when deploying a secure player. While the core manages authentication, trust verification and key exchange, it is the full client that manages the full range of entitlement checks, permissions enforcement, device integrity verification, timing verification, output control and more.

When calculating the total cost of ownership of a DRM solution, one must remember that the comprehensive client is becoming more complex and therefore significantly more expensive over time.

Fig. 1: DRM Core


Perhaps the most fatal mistake made when considering an in-house solution is underestimating the true scope of the project over time. Often preoccupied with the initial release, operators fail to plan for maintaining the security of the solution as an ongoing undertaking. In doing so, operators are committing themselves to not only fund an initial scaffolding of interfaces and subsystems that underpin a secure playback and monetization platform, but also a continuous process of critical security monitoring, update and verification. This process is driven by technology updates, changes in threat models and vendor limitations, as well as bug fixes and performance tuning. Overall, this requires a significant, ongoing investment in R&D, as well as dedicated product management, development and testing teams.

A security solution will always remain a work in progress.

Fig. 2: Complexity Of Building v3


Online viewing models are evolving at the speed of the cloud. Ten years ago a handful of web browsers on Windows PCs accounted for the vast majority of OTT viewing, but 2016 will see the shipment of nearly 2.5 billion connected devices across nine device types. Keeping track of new devices, platforms and technologies places significant strain on player and server teams.

It is a formidable undertaking, but one that must be achieved for significant growth and retention of subscribers. The do-it-yourself approach nearly always degenerates once services enter the next phase of expansion spanning the complete ecosystem of connected devices.

Fig. 3 : DRM Implementation with DRM Core


As DRM underlies all content business models, a lack of agility in updating and adapting the DRM layer also results in reduced revenue and lost subscribers. In order for DRM to be effective, it must not be seen simply as an anti-piracy tool but as a business-enabling monetization technology. Video service providers and OVPs are finding that the modern OTT ecosystem is a treacherous landscape, and is best navigated in partnership with an experienced multi-DRM vendor.

A new white paper from Frost & Sullivan outlines the factors that need to be considered when evaluating total cost of ownership for a DRM solution. Download a copy at costofmultiDRM.

Steve Christian has a wealth of experience in the digital media and Internet technology space and is a speaker on media technology and business trends at industry events around the globe. At Verimatrix he is responsible for product strategy, marketing programs and management of brand equity. Prior to joining Verimatrix, Steve was VP Marketing at streaming media specialist Nine Systems and has also run his own "virtual VP" technology marketing consultancy, helping the growth of a variety of software, wireless and Internet security ventures. His background includes product and services management at Wind River, ST Microelectronics and Raytheon. Steve has a 1st class degree in Physics from the University of Bristol and an MBA from the Open University in the UK.