The new ExpressPlay content protection solution-as-a-service makes it dramatically easier to implement DRM for Connected TV and multiscreen services, Intertrust, the company behind the solution, claims. ExpressPlay is designed for use with Marlin DRM, the open-standard content protection system, and can be used with existing Marlin-enabled connected TVs and set-top boxes. The market for this service therefore includes HbbTV-based broadcast/broadband services as well as YouView in the UK. Intertrust says ITV and BT both use the ExpressPlay service for their DRM requirements on YouView. A good proportion of the transactions on the Tivù platform in Italy use the ExpressPlay hosted service. Eutelsat KabelKiosk is going to use this cloud-based content protection.
John Gildred, VP Product Management at Intertrust, says ExpressPlay makes it easy to implement Marlin on video services. “We have made it easier to use Marlin than any other DRM,” he adds.
Intertrust says that, using ExpressPlay, it is possible to integrate Marlin DRM into a video service in as little as a day. Service providers can download a free test SDK for their apps and make use of the test environment free, then swap this for a production SDK, test again, choose a hosting subscription plan and then get started. Service providers can license a million DRM tokens for $2,000 per month, or as few as 1,000 tokens for $10 per month. Each token represents a single transaction.
When using this solution, a content app asks the service provider’s storefront to allow playback and the storefront server retrieves a token from ExpressPlay using an API, then responds to the app with the token. Service providers encrypt their content with the ExpressPlay Packager, which is a software tool that fits into standard workflows after encoding. It supports all the commonly used adaptive bit rate formats including DASH and HLS. The encrypted content is pushed to the CDN. Content keys are stored in the storefront database. The content itself remains in the headend – this service is about cloud-hosted content protection rather than video processing.
There are no up-front license fees. “Originally we thought this service would target the small to medium service provider but it turns out it is very attractive for large operations,” Gildred says. “We are now testing the model for very high throughputs like you see with live sports, where you could have a million people ‘tuning in’ at the same time and 10,000 transactions per second.”
Intertrust is confident that an increasing interest in Marlin generally, helped by its use in Europe, and the ease with which ExpressPlay can be integrated into the end-to-end streaming video delivery process, plus the simplicity in relation to licensing, means there is a bright future for its content protection as a service concept. Gildred thinks it is a taste of the future.
Intertrust is one of the five companies that joined together in 2005 to develop the Marlin DRM specifications. The others were Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony.