The viewer changes. One time they go the exact path the providers would expect them to, while another they veer, for instance, to staying offline... How to keep up with that ever-changing pace in the video industry, when introducing the seemingly outdated downloading occurred to be otherwise on spot? The answer is flexibility, agility and innovation all encapsulated in Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Date of publication: 29.07.2019

When Titanic harvested 11 Oscar golds, Amazon entered the market and the last full stop of the first Harry Potter book was placed, satellite dishes began to proliferate cities and villages. Conditional Access System allowed millions of us then to throw gales of laughter during Friends watching – we waited for it every week in anticipation, nails clenched in couches. Next decade, however, became the decade of YouTube and ITunes – the Internet popularized. The second it settled down for good at our homes, it was time to get started streaming. After streaming games and music, we got hungry for more – for video. Digital Rights Management shortened the unbelievably long hours of travelling (even by the airplane) or let us reach more miles on treadmills. Thanks to DRM we started carrying around the content we love with us.

What made the change, thus? At the end of the day, it was not that we could not find ourselves in dailiness having only CAS and television at our disposal. But still, we proved we wanted to watch video differently than it had been so far, and the numbers state it now themselves most clearly.

Source: Digital TV Research, 2018

DRM is sweeping the world

The DRM system grew in popularity along with the need for a wider and more convenient choice from among video libraries. It led to almost 500 million SVOD subscribers the previous year which, undoubtedly, is quite a number – probably mostly because streaming receivers were not ready and never expected to have SmartCards (CAS almost default part of the ecosystem).

The unprecedented and most favored feature of OTT platforms was their manageability. Viewers started taking their paused shows on the go and replaying them in parks and the subway. With the development of the telecom and computer industries, the user experience that Netflix had brought became a standard – it simply always worked. Manageability allows us to feel that we can do whatever we want with the video on our screens – this will always be the first and most valuable feature to most of us. Next, superb compression and distribution let the second feature literally burgeon across the world – and this is accessibility. The key markets (Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia & Oceania, North Africa, Middle East) are expected to grow by tens and hundreds of percent. In practice, it means unifying the video emission – all people on the planet have an access to the freshest episodes of the all the rage TV series at the same time. It seems so obvious today, but these emissions go to the instant mass communication with hundreds of millions of people (!). To make the outstanding user experience complete, the on-spot native translations appeared in almost each production launched for every country.

The third feature, which actually made introducing video streaming possible, is the security. DRM provides security to the video which is mandatory to appear in high quality. As much as security is important, it is also crucial to make it work smooth and transparent throughout the whole way for the user. Supposing you have to install extra plugins software to use services of one provider, would you go through the whole process? Doubtful… You will drop it immediately. Challenge to keep the user is big because using and watching has to appear effortless.

Needless to say, it was Netflix that paved the way for the rest. In truth, what it did was tidying up the industry’s potpourri of too many and abruptly taken approaches toward user experience. Netflix made it consistent and announced the good news to the whole world.

The right to sneak peek into each household

As one thinks of the grand scale of the mass communication phenomenon, data collection comes up as a sweet delicious cake right in front of someone on a strict diet – such temptation. Providers enhance interface quality and better suit the proposition to their viewers to engage them more, right? The next step is siphoning all the precious information the viewers are leaving behind so that the providers could make such productions like Black Mirror where the plot becomes interactive.

CAS and DRM processed through the hardend allow for the same video distribution and data collection; source: VECTOR X LABS

All in all, the plan to widespread the OTT standard with DRM has succeeded. In the USA households on average subscribe to 2.8 SVOD services; in the UK, Italy and Germany it is 2 per household; in France and Spain the number stacks to 1.5.

In other words, today it is less than making an effort to collect what you need to know about your viewers. They are already there voluntarily giving away the information – the quality of video only depends on what the providers and operators are capable of drawing from it. 


Szymon Karbowski

President and CEO at VECTOR X LABS