Virtualizing STB security in the cloud: Common ground for DRM and CAS

Lakshmana Pamarthy

How hard has it been to bridge pay-TV and online content security? Let’s just say that there have been times when it might have been easier to get Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow on the same page. 

Resolving the technological gulf between online video and pay-TV networks has rivaled bridging Red State/Blue State—or Leave/Remain—incompatibilities. Yet finding common ground is essential if pay-TV and online video are to realize the collective benefits of delivering expanded libraries of online content to the huge installed base of pay-TV subscribers. 

When Altice USA’s Optimum broke new ground by launching Hulu as a managed network channel earlier this year, it was a kumbaya moment in content delivery. Unlike device-centric approaches to bring SVOD services to connected STBs, what set Optimum and Hulu apart was the vision and leadership to embrace virtualization and bridge software-based models of online DRMs and the traditional pay-TV conditional access system (CAS). Virtualization of STB security functions enables online DRMs to be terminated in the cloud, so that the existing pay-TV CAS can securely deliver content via a virtual channel to the STB.

A new white paper discusses how cloud DRM combines the flexibility and content breadth of the Web with the quality and market footprint of pay-TV, without the complexity and long time-to-market issues of supporting myriad STB models and respective CAS associated with a device-centric approach.

Like the cloud-based launch of YouTube on Liberty Global’s UPC Hungary system – a deployment that has exceeded the operator’s own expectations of market adoption and engagement time – the Optimum Hulu deployment achieved rapid service velocity. Within a year of being announced, Hulu was accessible as a channel on the Optimum TV guide, making secured content – streamed from Hulu servers –available to Optimum customers with a Hulu subscription. 

By providing the ability to overcome technology concerns such as content security, the cloud is clearing the way for truly integrated services that offer benefits to pay-TV, online video and consumers. See, we CAN all get along!