Conax finally making noise in the US with eVue TV security win

The deal for Norwegian security specialist Conax to supply a multi-DRM system for Evolution Digital’s eVue-TV platform doesn’t jump out as a particularly major deployment to be shouting from the rooftops, but the budding Kudelski Group subsidiary is jostling for recognition in the US, and it is beginning to make itself heard.

eVue-TV is an IP-delivered live and VoD service, aimed at Tier 2 and Tier 3 cable operators of which there are plenty in the US, and it is available on the National Cable Television Cooperative’s (NCTC) VU-IT platform. VU-IT is a system for back office integration and OTT apps, running a TiVo UI. It recently updated the capabilities of eVue-TV to include delivery of IP linear channels, plus network DVR, with plans to introduce TV Everywhere functionality.

Conax has history with US set top manufacturer Evolution Digital, having recently deployed its content security platform on set tops at Mexican cable operator Cablemas, among other projects. Conax now has a significant presence in Latin America, but the company has long been in the shadow of sister company Nagra, which boasts Dish Network, Cable One and Globecast in the US.

On top of this, Conax is also under mounting pressure from DRM rival Verimatrix, which is targeting Conax’s cable customers to upgrade to its VCAS set of products. Verimatrix recently persuaded Cablevisión S.A. of Argentina, part of Grupo Clarin, to swap out its 3.5 million cable users as it embraces multiscreen, and Conax also lost part of the Dish India deal to Verimatrix, where Conax was previously the incumbent.

Conax has integrated its Contego back end security into the eVue-TV platform, along with Civolution’s NexGuard forensic watermarking technology – supporting PlayReady, Widevine, FairPlay, Nagra’s PRM, and Conax’s own Connected Access security client for combining CA and DRM functionality into one. It also says this ensures operators meet the requirements of the MovieLabs Enhanced Content protection regulations for 4K UHD content.

All 800 member companies of the NCTC across the US can use Evolution Digital’s IP hybrid set top, but unfortunately, we cannot delve in to this because the member list is on a forbidden part on the NCTC website. Albeit with the exception of the five cable operators Evolution Digital recently signed up to offer eVue-TV in the US – Advanced Cable Communications, Vast Broadband, Click! Cable TV, Schurz Communications and Westman Communications. Evolution Digital has not shared details of how many US cable operators have deployed the eVue-TV platform beyond these, which only account for a tiny portion of cable homes in the US.

These smaller operators don’t have the scale or budget to take a multivendor approach to taking the OTT plunge, but still want to provide consumers with a simplified way of accessing OTT services on cable set tops, which is where Evolution Digital’s products come in.

US operator Wide Open West (WOW) uses Evolution Digital hardware running TiVo software, and has opted for a Conditional Access Licensing (CAL) system, which is a way to integrate traditional Motorola MediaCipher conditional access onto non-Motorola devices. This can also decode Cisco Powerkey conditional access system which Cisco inherited in 2007 from Scientific Atlanta.

“A key focus for Conax is guiding operators in finding the best ways to ensure device reach and making it easier for consumers to access premium content, securely. Conax is uniquely positioned as a holistic content security specialist for operators in the US market, tapping extensive experience in the global market and benefits from technology collaboration and R&D initiatives of the complementary companies within the Kudelski Group,” commented Rohit Mehra, SVP of Americas at Conax.

Another Kudelski release this week announced it has teamed up with Twitter to “pursue business collaboration opportunities,” but with entirely confidential terms. We can only presume that Twitter succumbed to the notorious Kudelski patent trip wire and this deal represents some sort of mutual agreement.

Twitter’s Sharad Vivek, Director of Business Development, said: “the Kudelski Group has a rich history of innovation in video technologies and we look forward to continued collaboration.”