Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

26 March 2020

Verimatrix, Nagra outline contingency plans

Verimatrix has become the first digital security vendor to enable chip behemoth Broadcom to securely and rapidly bring 4K/UHD content to set tops running Android TV Operator Tier. The niche claim comes as operator deployments based on Android TV are forecast to defy the death of the set top at least for the next decade – and not before surging to over 300 million devices worldwide by 2025.

Long-term partners Broadcom and Verimatrix are striving to streamline and accelerate the roll out of Android TV set tops, perhaps even beyond what current forecasts show.

Verimatrix’s existing compatibility with Broadcom’s Android TV SDK and MediaCas plug-in means existing customers of Verimatrix Video Content Authority System (VCAS) technology can quickly deploy Android TV services. As well as tight integration and assuring rapid deployments times, key to picking up customer wins at both operators and set top manufacturers is the promise of managing future upgrades with minimal resources.

Timings of course can vary wildly depending on the various flavors of deployment. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get – so we put the stopwatch to Verimatrix, asking how fast its time-to-market is for a Broadcom-based Android TV deployment. We ended up getting a gem of a response.

Verimatrix’s Senior Director of Product Management, Nikolai Keychenko explained, “It is helpful to think about it this way.  The set top development cycle heavily depends on integration tasks of various components supplied by multiple vendors. In this scenario, one of the core components is the main CPU (chipset), which is delivered by Broadcom with Android TV SDK. Traditionally, each set top partner has to integrate its application/player with the chipset SDK and, additionally, with the CA client through direct integration. This direct integration implies a certain level of effort and significant time to account for development, tests, certification, etc. About 30% of integration time can be spent on direct CA integration,”

He continued, “Now, imagine the chipset SDK comes pre-integrated with a CA client, unified API, and reviewed, approved, and certified hardware and firmware security, including TEE (trusted execution environment). The set top manufacturer can take advantage of saving time and resources otherwise required for direct integration. In addition, this implementation can be re-used across multiple customers and projects. Verimatrix MediaCas plug-in brings exactly these benefits to our set top partners.”

Not the precise answer we were after, admittedly, although we can’t dispute this valuable extra insight from Verimatrix well beyond what the press release offers.

Veering off topic, Faultline has been doing the rounds asking various vendors what their contingency plans are in the current climate. We suggested that in the digital security market, there could be a case for operators and broadcasters tightening their security systems at a time when piracy might be expected to surge with people stuck at home.

Verimatrix COO Asaf Ashkenazi agreed, “With increased streaming video consumption, and the availability of higher value content, we anticipate increased video piracy activity. The increase comes from consumers, with more time on their hands, seeking access to “free” content, or content that is not available at their geography. More alarming, is the anticipated growth of illegal content delivery services trying to make a profit from the situation, taking advantage of the dramatic increase in video content demand. These pirated services can provide access to content at a lower cost to consumers, and/or leverage the content to drive revenue from advertisements. Often these services look like legitimate services, and consumers are always not aware that they are viewing pirated content.”

“In order to reduce piracy, we recommend video service providers use the newest technologies and services available to protect content and access to their services. In parallel, we recommend reducing pirate motivation by making more content available worldwide. We also recommend service providers ensure that the content protection solution they use doesn’t hamper user experience or lead to troubles with user retention. We believe that now is not the time to crackdown on individual users sharing their credentials with family members and friends,” added Ashkenazi.

Last week, Faultline also heard from Nagra about its own contingency plans. Nagra informed us that initially it is seeing operators starting to offer payment holidays to consumers in a number of regions, in reaction to the pandemic, but did not specifically address whether Nagra executives or operator customers are concerned with an increase in piracy.

“We’re regularly talking to our customers to help them manage the emerging threats and we have the necessary level of capability within our Security Services Platform, cloud.SSP and our Anti-Piracy Services, both parts of our Active Streaming Protection approach, to warn early of any other service piracy threats that may increase during this extraordinary period. Nagra is continuing to serve all its customers on a daily basis and we have strong business continuity planning in place to ensure that this will continue,” Nagra’s Head of Marketing Ivan Schnider told Faultline.

Part of the problem and the solution is that while video consumption right now is through the roof, many operators are left peddling pay TV packages void of their most valuable assets – live sports. Subscriptions to sports channels are being frozen or refunded as a result, and the lack of live sports globally has likely translated to a dip in piracy.

The financial losses for operators without live sports will therefore be significant, although both Verimatrix and Nagra look well positioned to weather this storm.