We ask Andrew Wajs, CTO Irdeto about the trends and challenges in the cable market
Andrew Wajs joined Irdeto in 1992 as a development engineer where he architected the world’s first DVB Conditional Access system. Since joining he has been the senior systems architect, a key innovator and patent author. Subsequent to this he has been the force behind many start-up projects within Irdeto ranging from secure music distribution, session based watermarking for video and audio content, the world’s first pay satellite mobile TV solution in Korea and software based security solutions for digital content.
Meet Andrew Wajs at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels – register now.
Tell us more about how you work with content providers and the cable tech community.
Irdeto is a world leader in Multiscreen, Revenue Assurance and Media Protection solutions for pay-TV operators, OTT service providers and content owners. Irdeto enables pay media companies to provide a personal media experience for their consumers, uncover new revenue opportunities and offer new forms of entertainment on broadcast, broadband and mobile networks. The company offers an advanced portfolio of rights management, multi-screen, home networking, piracy control, media protection and business intelligence services.
Tackling next-generation challenges requires more than just technology. Operators must take a more holistic, end-to-end approach to thrive and Irdeto offers a winning formula combining state of the art technology with responsive, proven services.
What are the key challenges facing the piracy control business at the moment?
Advancements in technology combined with increasing broadband availability & speed have allowed pirates to adapt, making content redistribution the biggest threat currently facing pay-TV operators and rights holders.
As little as 2-3mbps is sufficient to access hundreds of pirated pay-TV channels and movies from almost everywhere in the world, in HD or near HD quality. Beyond broadband capability, pirate OTT devices on the market today can provide functionality and a user experience that can challenge even the best pay-TV offerings.
Many pirate OTT services also have professional websites with effective marketing and offer a ‘plug & play’ philosophy with support. Some even tout money-back guarantees. As a result, many people who consume pirated content do so unintentionally due to these legitimate-looking subscriptions and offers.
This new sophistication of piracy requires increasingly powerful countermeasures. Pay-TV operators and content owners, especially sports rights holders that are dealing with a short monetization window, must rely on a wide range of technologies, automated mechanisms and global collaboration networks to disrupt piracy.
Countermeasures include discovering how pirates market to consumers (linking sites, social media and piracy ads), tracking and disabling illegal streams in real time, tracing back to the origin of the pirate stream with advanced forensic techniques and catching the real criminals behind piracy through investigation and evidence collection for prosecution.
What are the technology trends driving the sector forward?
The industry is witnessing an unparalleled change in how media is consumed due to the increasing nature of IP connected devices – and those changes continue to accelerate with the availability of broadband and expanded distribution of new devices worldwide.
As a result, home networking, the Internet of Things and other new advancements such as 4K are driving innovation and presenting a myriad of opportunities and challenges. For example, 4K promises enhanced quality, navigation and varied business models. 4K will be synonymous with responsiveness, openness and flexibility in both technology and consumer engagements, but it won’t come without risks and new mandates from rights holders and Hollywood studios. Those operators who can think outside “the box” will be able to manage these risks, adhere to new requirements and find opportunities to drive their business forward.
What innovative products is Irdeto working on now?
The pay media ecosystem has become more and more complex over the past few years. Operators are now realizing they need to have more control and be “in the driver’s seat” to ensure quick time to market for new services and offerings. In response to this need, one of the latest innovations Irdeto has come to market with is the Irdeto Keys & Credentials service.
Irdeto Keys & Credentials is a vendor-neutral managed service to operate all processes and workflows for security management on behalf of pay media operators. It allows them to maintain full control over the security and business decisions relating to their content distribution platforms and avoid technology lock-in, enabling them to leverage innovative product features and functionalities as they become available.
In essence, Keys & Credentials enables some of the biggest operators in world to take complete control over the design and architecture of their devices, there by overturning a 20-year+ lock-in to CA and DRM security technologies. Now, operators can easily change apps, features and security suppliers because they have full management and control over their keys.
How are the innovations in the cable industry impacting on your investment decisions?
One focus area for the industry and indeed in the wider technology space is the introduction of connected devices to form an “Internet of Things” for Smart Homes. Irdeto is currently working on cutting edge solutions and innovations to meet the needs of operators interested in taking a claim within this emerging market.
Operators are in a position to deliver IoT services specific to their region, but the more services and devices they add, the more the attack surface will be increased, putting security at risk. Irdeto identified that the risk to content is similar in many ways to the risks associated with the IoT, and is currently developing new services to address these issues:
- Secure the platform delivering the media asset or the service
- Manage devices to ensure consistency and quality of service
- Enable new applications and services on fielded IP-based devices
By providing services within the Smart Home, operators can expand their interaction with customers and cement their role within the day to day life of the customer.
Consumer habits are likely to continue to change with more and more content consumption via smart TVs and the Internet. How is Irdeto anticipating these trends?
Consumer habits are changing daily with the introduction of more screens and devices, more IP connectivity, more social TV and recommendation services and future advancements still on the horizon. It’s a buffet for the consumer, and operators are expected to keep it plentiful and full of variety.
The “screen,” be it fixed big screen or mobile, will still be a focal point for virtualizing (and visualizing) all kinds of new consumer services. The question each operator has to ask themselves is: should they deploy and offer these services themselves; form partnerships to allow third parties to use their subscriber base as a channel of distribution or simply allow third parties free reign over their subscribers?
Irdeto believes operators are best positioned to play a leading role in the next iteration of tech development, the connected home, because they have deep awareness of subscriber base and demographic/market data to determine the “right” or “killer” IoT app for their market as well as experience with multi-service offerings delivered through gateways and complementary devices.
You are active on various continents. How does your business cater to the different needs of each region?
Irdeto provides services to pay-TV operators, broadcasters and rights holders across the world. It identifies and analyzes the local needs of each market and tailors products to meet each customer’s unique needs.
We are seeing strong interest for Piracy Control in all markets, especially the Middle East and North America, notably from broadcasters with exclusive rights to live sports coverage. For example Irdeto works with Univision to make sure that content is protected across all screens, while providing a seamless, latency-free experience for consumers regardless of device. Irdeto also works with the English Premier League to support the league’s continued efforts to tackle the illegal redistribution of set-top boxes capable of receiving illegal content streamed over the Internet (IPTV STBs).
Irdeto Multiscreen, and with that our (managed or licensed) Rights offering, is successful across all regions of the globe, counting high profile operators such as Astro, Liberty Global and FOXTEL as customers. Liberty Global selected Irdeto for all their European markets, including the UK, to protect and securely deliver their linear and VoD content as a managed service through the cloud to IP devices. This includes a technology-agnostic approach that supports multiple DRMs and leverages exclusive Irdeto security hardening technologies.
Meanwhile Irdeto’s Cloaked CA services are most sought after in Latin America and in the Asia Pacific region. Clients include UNE in LATAM and Cable Thai Holdings, IMTV, Manthan and Orange TV in APAC. IMTV, the broadcasting arm of Indonesia`s Lippo Group is using Irdeto`s Media Protection solutions to securely deliver digital television content over BIGTV, a premium direct-to-home (DTH) satellite service. Using Irdeto’s technology to launch BIGTV in 2013 has allowed IMTV to rapidly become one of the largest media networks in Asia.
Cable Congress will be taking place in Brussels from 11-13 March 2015, The SQUARE, Brussels. For more information and to register, please click here.