Converged security solutions for smart TVs

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By Bo Ferm

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Implementing converged broadcast-OTT security for smart TVs can lower costs and improve revenue for both TV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and broadcast service providers. These hybrid service strategies allow viewers to watch both over-the-top (OTT) and over-the-air (OTA) content without the need for conditional access modules (CAMs) or set-top-boxes (STBs). 

Understandably, DVB broadcasters are readily adopting these hybrid service strategies, taking advantage of the major proliferation of smart TVs globally. This blog will take a closer look at how content protection and digital rights management (DRM) can be integrated into service delivery to eliminate both legacy on-premises equipment and consumer devices such as STBs/CAMs.

Making converged security possible

The considerable advances in converged security have been made possible by the improvements in smart TV content protection technology, specifically the increased processing power of the systems-on-chips (SoCs) that run them. These improvements enable a more unified approach to content protection and access management, rather than requiring multiple equipment and technology solutions. 

Intertrust offers a cloud-based solution, ExpressPlay XCA, which converges legacy conditional access systems (CAS) and the more advanced smart TV delivery. Since Intertrust’s solution is not developed by a CAS manufacturer, it is not beholden to previous CAS systems. This means the security-as-a-service (SaaS) solution doesn’t try to integrate separate CAS support but instead focuses on delivering fully converged security on the SoCs inside smart TVs. This solution, which also enables manufacturer compliance self-certification of platforms, is built on the open-standard Marlin DRM, making content protection possible for both OTA broadcasting and OTT streaming.

The result for OEMs and broadcasters alike is a significant reduction in costs for content protection across all targeted devices, not just smart TVs. In fact, ExpressPlay delivers converged security at the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO) versus all other multi-network and multi-screen content protection solutions currently available. The lower TCO is achieved by removing the payment structures or royalties that legacy CAS were based on. An increasing number of smart TV OEMs have recognized this and started to manufacture ExpressPlay XCA enabled smart TVs for DVB markets, including Sony, Vestel, and Hisense.

For a concrete example of ExpressPlay XCA in a customer deployment, download the HD+ case study here to learn about direct-to-smart-TV broadcasting in Germany without STBs or CAMs.

Empowering better content protection

One of the biggest challenges to converged security solutions is older consumer premises equipment (CPE) that necessitates maintaining traditional CA systems for legacy TV programming. However, ExpressPlay XCA’s compatibility with DVB Simulcrypt overcomes this issue. This compatibility makes it possible for multiple pay-TV security systems to run simultaneously from a single headend, so service providers using ExpressPlay XCA can still run a legacy CAS until such time it is no longer required and can be turned off. 

Device makers are also able to satisfy the demands of the MovieLabs consortium of film studios for high-value content, such as UHD, as laid out in the Enhanced Content Protection specifications. This is enabled by the Intertrust client SDK and porting kit, which also supports the Compliance and Robustness framework. Intertrust can also offer forensic watermarking and anti-piracy services where license holders deem it necessary, which is often the case with high-value live services such as sports and eSports.

In terms of DRM, OTT security for all devices is ensured through the ExpressPlay multi-DRM service. This cloud-delivered multi-DRM service supports not only Marlin DRM, but also every other major DRMs such as Apple® FairPlay® Streaming, Google Widevine, and Microsoft® PlayReady®. This means that broadcasters transitioning from traditional delivery models to direct-to-TV (D2TV) are guaranteed the highest level of DRM protection across the spectrum of their broadcast consumption.

The advantages of ExpressPlay XCA converged security

The fact that ExpressPlay XCA can deliver converged content protection for OTA and OTT content benefits all parties in the home entertainment space, including OEMs, broadcasters, and consumers. 

OEMs

OEMs can offer a product that is a singular D2TV viewing platform. This allows them to lower manufacturing costs and improve time to market through mass production of smart TVs for whole regions, without worrying about specific broadcaster demands or lock-in issues. 

Manufacturers can also speed up their time to market by eliminating the lengthy and complicated certification processes for legacy CAS with ExpressPlay’s XCA’s self-certification capability. The removal of legacy CAS certification costs means that broadcasters are incentivized to market such equipment to consumers in order to enlarge the overall potential customer base for their content. This directly benefits OEMs.

Broadcasters and consumers

Broadcasters benefit from the improved flexibility and surety of working from a solid technology base. Individual organizations, or even entire national groupings, can push smart TVs to consumers and create a common hardware platform for broadcast delivery. 

ExpressPlay XCA allows broadcasters to choose the service delivery model that suits them, whether it’s pure OTT or broadcasting, or a hybrid broadcast-OTT. It also enables them to meet the content protection standards necessary to deliver UHD or early-window (“home cinema”) releases. Viewers are able to simply subscribe to whichever service they wish through a broadcaster’s Operator App (OpApp) directly from their smart TV’s UI, which also creates more marketing exposure for broadcasters. 

For consumers, the flexibility allows them to access the variety of options offered by broadcasters, which suit all tastes and price points. These include multi-tier pay-TV and OTT subscriptions, free-to-air (FTA), or pay-per-view (PPV).

The clear solution

The benefits of a converged security solution to all parties in the home entertainment space are clear. The cloud-based ExpressPlay XCA SaaS offers converged security to help broadcasters transition smoothly from legacy systems while still delivering the highest level of content protection and interoperability at the lowest TCO.

To find out more about how Intertrust is helping OEMs and broadcasters keep content safe and deliver greater use cases for their products while also maintaining the lowest possible TCO for content protection, download our whitepaper “Smart TV – Linchpin in next-gen hybrid broadcasting strategies.”

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About Bo Ferm

Bo Ferm is a Product Marketing consultant for Media Solutions at Intertrust Technologies. He is a versatile technology professional with 30+ years of successful B2B positions in Europe, North America and South East Asia. He has worked extensively with pay-TV technologies, with the past 12 years dedicated to content security in various forms.

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