Home Analysis What impact will the new changes to DRM have on OTT providers?

What impact will the new changes to DRM have on OTT providers?

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By Richard Scott, SVP Sales and Marketing, Irdeto

DRM plugins in your web browser are soon to be a thing of the past. Late last year, Google’s most recent version of Chrome stopped supporting the Silverlight plugin for viewers on the Apple Mac platform. This change means that any viewers using Chrome won’t be able to access PlayReady protected content, and Google’s newest release of Chrome has also disabled this function by default on PCs. This Chrome update is only the beginning of a series of changes to DRM support on web browsers, with all browser vendors moving to embed a specific DRM technology on each of their web platforms. So what does this mean for OTT providers?

With Chrome dominating the desktop browser market, there are inevitably going to be some unhappy consumers. In some cases, customers will realize that all they need to do is change their browser, but operators also face the risk that they could lose disaffected customers.

OTT services are moving towards increasingly complex and fragmented offerings. As DRM solutions evolve and become more specifically tailored towards devices and browsers, OTT businesses must employ a multi-DRM strategy to adequately meet consumers’ needs.

So what can operators do to stay ahead of this curve? Managing multiple DRMs, devices and browsers will become increasingly difficult and operators will therefore need to manage complex ecosystems and effectively manage resources to maintain top quality service.

The transition from plugins

The industry has widely embraced HTML5 web browsers that can play DRM-protected content, and as a result, plugins such as Silverlight, Adobe Flash or Widevine are being phased out.

Plugins have generally been identified as an easy entry point for hackers, and this is where HTML5 can provide enhanced protection for premium content. Not only it is a generally more secure offering, but HTML5 also provides viewers a faster and more stable way to consume content. Not to mention the poor user experience due to the necessity to re-install and update plugins, which can even incur operator costs in providing customer support. It’s fair to say that for many, plugins will not be missed.

What do OTT providers need to keep in mind?

For viewers, DRM changes in web browsers and plugins means that they won’t be able to access content that is protected by a DRM technology that differs to the service in their browser, possibly leading to frustrations with content access.

This is why it is key for operators to ensure that they can support all of the main DRM formats needed to reach the variety of browsers used by their viewers. Additionally, they will need to support legacy DRMs and delivery systems (e.g. for connected TV’s, older browser versions and devices) for the foreseeable future in order to continue to provide consumers with a positive viewing experience.

Vitally, operators need to asses which solution is right for their business as a whole moving forward, in order to ensure that customers still continue to receive the best viewing experience possible. This could either be through additional resources to address the increasingly complex ecosystem, or sourcing a technology agnostic solution that reduces complexity. Whichever approach providers choose to take, it is important that the focus must always be on providing the consumer with the best way to access the content they desire. 

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