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11 May 2023

VO embraces personalization era amid CDN leeching threats

It says a lot that our chat with French security firm Viaccess-Orca (VO) at NAB 2023 took at least 20 minutes to get onto the subject of security. This is because the vendor has been on a huge personalization kick as of late, ensuring that its operator client base is squeezing its dwindling user base for every last penny.

Nonetheless, pirates wait for no one. VO’s latest challenge is CDN leeching, which feeds off the illegal sale of CDN tokens for as cheap as $6 per month. For this measly price, pirates can get unwarranted access to an operator’s CDN to run their services, with operators footing the bill for these illicit video services which can offer carrier-grade quality and latency while stealing pay TV customers.

Instead of one token per user, pirates are jamming hundreds of users onto a single token, creating unpredictable peaks in traffic, meaning that pirates are damaging operator infrastructure while simultaneously siphoning their user base. Talk about rubbing salt in the wounds.

VO says that CDN leeching can occur under three main circumstances – if CDNs are not verifying the ID of user requests, if DRMs suffer weaknesses on certain web browsers, or if multi-DRM licensers are not implementing ID checks or a limit on CDN requests.

As far as video security issues go, this is a relatively fresh one. VO first spotted CDN leeching two years ago, but has only recently begun offering its customers preventative measures within its Anti-Piracy Center.

This includes analytics tools to measure the extent of the leeching within their CDN by how much bandwidth these tokens consume each day, as well as enforcement protocols, such as sending takedown notices to the CDNs that are compliant with the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

One could be concerned then that Faultline’s latest catch-up with VO focused on newer products, namely Targeted TV Advertising, which Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, EVP Products and Services, says was launched as a means for VO to funnel in more customers for its entire breadth of services, personalization included.

To drill the value proposition home, VO has even launched a nifty revenue simulator to forecast how much an operator stands to make from targeted advertising based on criteria such as location, device, and ads per session.

Since its official launch last year, VO has an active deployment of its Targeted TV Advertising product with an undisclosed Tier 1 operator, although the name should be public by the time IBC rolls around in September. VO’s parent company, Orange, is an obvious place to look.

Bidard says that operators are always looking for more granular segmentation of audiences. One popular use case is determining whether or not kids are watching a video service, which customers often do not disclose. VO’s work on segmentation is allowing for much better targeting for advertisers, as operators can pass their audience segments straight to supply-side platforms (SSPs).

“All our data processing is done in-house. We have spent the past few years honing our skills to process data efficiently and reduce CPU and data center workloads,” Bidard assured us. “If you want your segmentation to be profitable, you need to keep workload down.”

Aside from advertising, VO is using these audience segments for other personalization features – a carousel of recommended channels that operators can upsell, for example. VO has partnered with compatriot Spideo to enhance its metadata with detailed descriptors on genre and mood.

“We are still doing security. The business is healthy and secure,” Bidard assured us, noting that direct-to-consumer sports platforms are proving a fertile source of new business in the race against pirates.

In terms of new customers, VO recently offered its Service Delivery Platform to power a Widevine conditional access system (CAS) for Vietnamese operator FPT Play. The CAS allows FPT Play to offer IPTV streams on its latest Android TV set top with the necessary rights and device management tools.

Perhaps the fact that VO is so willing to go wandering into other offerings is testament to the stability of the core business, but one cannot help but wonder whether pressing issues like CDN leeching require more attention?