Ahead of Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Steve Oetegenn, CMSO at Verimatrix, about the evolving world of security in the cable marketplace. Verimatrix is the Revenue Security sponsor for this year’s Cable Congress.

Why does Verimatrix tend to speak about Revenue Security rather than Conditional Access? The key issue here is that we approach security from a business perspective rather than a focus on a single technology. The array of threats to the pay-TV business is evolving as rapidly as the devices that the customers use. So we need to take a multi-dimensional approach to address these threats and ultimately provide a  future proof security strategy focused on enabling new business models and securing revenue streams.

What seem to be the latest trends in revenue security for cable service operators? I find it fascinating to see how quickly the landscape is changing! Whereas OTT was seen as a threat to cable operators a couple of years ago, the technology is now being co-opted as a key component of new competitive service offerings. The debate rages about the pros and cons of mega-gateway devices to provide whole home services. And the advent of the tablet has provided a premium portable TV experience inside and outside of the household.

All this means that the security challenges for operators are increasingly multi-network in nature – and highly dynamic in terms of underlying technology. Operators are seeking to eliminate the technology-centric distribution and consumption silos that often frustrate consumers and can nudge them towards alternative sources.
There shouldn’t be any artificial gaps between what a consumer sees on the big screen attached to a cable and what they see on the small screen of a tablet.  I’m not talking about interface look and feel, which is often necessarily different to take advantage of the natural strengths of a given device, but rather content selection, preferences and usage models.  It’s when a subscriber experiences an adverse difference between viewing options for a given program across devices – often decreased quality of experience (QoE) – that has a tendency to encourage piracy or sign up for disparate services.

In a world that is becoming increasingly multi-screened, what challenges are facing content providers when it comes to content rights and protection? Many operators are employing advanced protection mechanisms to secure their next-generation OTT premium content services.  Many of these techniques, which feature fine grain control mechanisms, have already been successfully deployed to secure more mature pay-TV networks, like managed IPTV and DVB.  It is essential that security levels for OTT multi-screen services need to at least meet the equivalent level of security and control currently applied for traditional pay-TV distribution. In fact, we have explored this issue in detail in a recent white paper, “Content Security Requirements for Multi-Screen Video Services” where we find important benchmarks and trends in multi-screen protection requirements.

It is especially clear that rights management between the pay-TV and OTT environments should be carefully controlled since glitches in this aspect of delivery cause havoc on the management of overall subscriber expectations. Most importantly, a single security platform clearly opens up the potential for flexible business models that can help up-sell OTT content for premium services and cross-sell over multi-network, multi-screen distribution. Such OTT business and rights management models are in a stage of being defined, and redefined.

How has OTT evolved over the last few years?  What advances do you expect in 2013, and how can operators ensure they are prepared? Advances in compression and delivery protocols, like HTTP Live Streaming, have turned an inherently low quality Internet TV experience into a mainstream consumption medium. Today’s Internet-based services are not very different from the profile of more traditional offerings. We have found that effectively scaling an OTT service is easiest when the unmanaged network is integrated with existing back-end infrastructure – sharing a proven video and security head-end platform.

As the OTT landscape continues to evolve, it will need to address an ever increasing number of device types.  Taking a unified approach to security will enhance operators’ ability to reach these devices and provide subscribers with access to the content they crave. A unified security strategy based on an open and standards-based DRM scheme can easily address the unique requirements of different devices types, and give operators the potential to open up the universe of multi-network, multi-screen delivery, and greatly accelerate the growth of new revenue streams based on this paradigm.

What does the future of multi-screen look like to Verimatrix? In the future, I anticipate that we will see increasing personalization of content as way of increasing the subscriber’s QoE. It stands to reason that if content can be shared across multiple devices, so can personal preferences. Perhaps in the future, subscriber’s preferences will seamlessly transfer from the personal video recorder (PVR) over to the subscriber’s other devices (iPad, smartphone, etc.) to even further enhance QoE and increase subscriber loyalty.

Our recent customer win Com Hem is an excellent example of an advanced multi-screen deployment. The operator is launching new multi-screen TV services later this spring, which will be delivered to TiVo powered hybrid set-top boxes (STBs), and through TiVo’s tablet, smartphone, and browser-based experiences. The operator is leveraging our VCAS multi-network solutions and TiVo’s set-top boxes to create a state-of-the-art user experience and provide robust revenue security for the new services. Using VCAS enables Com Hem to have a single source for rights management across linear and on-demand content, and in turn offer their customers the absolute best television experience.

CABLE CONGRESS 2013

On Day 2/Wed 6th at 14:00 Steve Oetegenn will be speaking in the marketing track on “The Changing Face of Revenue Security.” Click here for the latest agenda.