Why reinvent the multi-DRM wheel?

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By Team ExpressPlay


OTT video services have many moving parts: The business of streaming is changing continually. The technology keeps evolving rapidly, with new competitors popping up nearly every day. And the industry can’t ignore the fact that revenue is being lost from piracy.

To keep up with all of these business-critical issues, it’s key to ensure that you’re making the right decisions when it comes to allocating the resources that are needed to protect and grow your business. Typically, the business plan for most OTT services doesn’t allow for a dedicated staff to develop all of the necessary resource-intensive systems from scratch, raising an important question: Do you build your own multi-DRM systems or is it wiser to outsource content protection to a cloud-based DRM service provider? In this article we weigh whether it’s better to buy or build a multi-DRM platform in order to secure your content.

A cloud-based multi-DRM service is a must-have for securing your OTT streaming content. There was a time when building your own content security platforms was easier — the task was smaller and there was less at stake. In the past, fewer people were streaming content and their expectations for quality were lower.

Now, with more people subscribing to OTT streaming services than pay-TV, subscribers have the same expectations for broadcast-quality video as they did with their traditional TV provider. So, it’s very important that your multi-DRM service doesn’t bring down the expected level of quality.

In addition, protecting content used to be simpler. Today’s multi-DRM services must meet more and more requirements such as:

  • Reaching across all targeted device categories and locations
  • Fulfilling the varied licensing requirements from the range of content owners and rights holders whose content is essential for your business
  • Supporting all the major DRM platforms
  • Meeting the high bar for user experience

With the growth of OTT, content protection has moved from being a secondary engineering task to a strategic, business-critical necessity. Is your team prepared to take on this critical, complex and resource-intensive task? Or, should you partner with dedicated experts who will be available whenever you need them?

If you’re considering the build-it-yourself approach, first weigh the organizational implications of funding, establishing, and maintaining a first-class team of security experts.

Staffing up for the build phase

The initial process of planning and building out an in-house multi-DRM content security platform requires staffing up with a team of professionals who have the required extensive and costly expertise with every facet of product development, testing, and management. (Think product management, engineering, development, QA, documentation, and training.) This team can be dedicated to the project for many months. But once the project is complete, what do you do with the team? With their specialized expertise, you may not be able to re-deploy them to other projects, and the maintenance of the security platform may not be their expertise.

Can you afford to keep this team on just for R&D projects? Even if you are able, there could be big investments in the future in order to keep them current on all the technology — whether it’s device hardware, OS versions, licensing policies, and service configurations — all of which have evolving standards. And what are the possible consequences if the team misses something? Most DRM services have steep learning curves and a limited amount of training materials.

Maintaining in-house staff for the maintenance phase

For the next phase, once you’ve built the system, it’s necessary to address the long-term upkeep of your home-grown platform, which requires you to maintain significant levels of staffing for the routine maintenance such as bug-fixes and platform upgrades, as well as the needed costly in-house expertise for complex cut-overs and fallback scenarios. And don’t forget the ongoing performance monitoring and 24/7/365 technical support.

As you can see, you’re looking at developing a high level of internal expertise, which requires a significant investment in the ongoing training to build out and maintain your own multi-DRM service. And just when you think you have things running smoothly, staff turnover can become a problem and a never-ending headache.

The buy vs build decision

Don’t reinvent the multi-DRM wheel

Remember, your employees are your most valuable resource. Do you want your team reinventing the wheel as they build out and maintain a complex, multi-DRM service to protect your content? Or, would you rather outsource the security component to a team of DRM experts who have already perfected a content security service, so that you can dedicate the talents of your valuable in-house team to innovating on your own core OTT service?

If building your own DRM service seems like it would be an ongoing drain on your organization, you’re most likely right.

Download our comprehensive white paper that details what’s involved in building your own multi-DRM platform and the other options.


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