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Analysis for 'DRM'

  • UltraViolet and TV Everywhere: It's All About Devices and Access. But That's Not Enough.

    I'd wager the two most spoken words in the media and entertainment industries these days are "devices" and "access." Executives are gripped by the idea that consumers must have access to their content across a growing universe of video-enabled devices. In fact, the premise of the industry's two most strategic initiatives - UltraViolet and TV Everywhere - is that by enabling access to content on multiple devices, traditional business models will either be reinvigorated (in UV's case for DVD purchases) or buttressed against attack (in TVE's case for pay-TV's multichannel bundle).

    If only things were that straightforward. While it's undeniable that improved access on multiple devices is extremely valuable, especially for today's on-the-go viewer, the shortcoming of both UV and TVE is that neither addresses fundamental changes in consumer behaviors or preferences. Broader access is only half the battle here; the other half is devising the right business model that meets consumers' vastly changed expectations. Until this piece of the equation is solved, I doubt that either UV or TVE is going to have the industry's hoped-for impact.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #123 - Aereo, Starz-Netflix, UltraViolet

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 123rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Mar. 2, 2012. This week's podcast has a different format; instead of discussing one topic in depth, we touch on three areas - the new lawsuit against Aereo, Netflix's deal with Starz ending (and whether the "flix" is coming out of Netflix) and UltraViolet's strategy of using discs to drive adoption.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #117 - Debriefing UltraViolet

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 117th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Jan. 20, 2012. In this week's podcast we dig into UltraViolet (UV), the digital library/format recently launched to enable consumers with multi-device streaming access to Hollywood movies.

    It's still early days for UV, but there have been some hiccups in the rollout, with numerous longer-term challenges looming as we detail. Still, UV is a critical initiative to help studios reinvigorate the sell-through model that has declined in the wake of lower-cost options like Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, etc. and so there are strong incentives to make it successful. We also review new UV messaging that's rolling out and what's ahead for 2012. Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 2 seconds)



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    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

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  • Irdeto Acquires Piracy Detection Firm BayTSP

    Software security provider Irdeto is acquiring media anti-piracy firm BayTSP, the companies are announcing this morning. BayTSP's monitoring and business intelligence technology will broaden Irdeto's range of security solutions for studios, pay-TV providers and media companies, including its ActiveCloak renewal security system. BayTSP counts Comcast, Sony and Toshiba among its clients. Martin Sendyk, Irdeto's SVP, Product and Stuart Rosove, BayTSP's CEO briefed me on the details late last week.

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  • NDS Unveils VideoGuard Connect DRM; Sky Go and DirecTV As Initial Customers

    NDS has unveiled VideoGuard Connect, a DRM solution for pay-TV operators looking to securely distribute linear and on-demand content to connected devices. In addition, NDS is announcing that U.S. satellite operator DirecTV has adopted VideoGuard Connect to deliver video online and to iOS and Android devices, while the U.K.'s BSkyB has adopted it to deliver video for its Sky Go service to iOS devices. NDS's Nigel Smith, VP/Chief Marketing Officer and Leonid Sandler, CTO of its DRM group briefed me on the new DRM solution.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #81 - Dec. 10, 2010

    Daisy Whitney and I are back this week for the 81st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for December 10, 2010.

    This week Daisy and I focus on Google's video efforts from two perspectives: first, whether it should pay CBS (and other networks) to allow Google TV to access their programs, and second, what are the implications of its acquisition of Widevine, announced last Friday.

    On the former point, as I argued in "Google to Pay CBS? Unlikely." I think it's a big stretch to believe that Google, which is a search engine, is going to start paying content providers like CBS, to direct traffic to them. Certainly that's not what it does online, and there's little reason to believe it will start doing so with Google TV.

    Meanwhile, the Widevine deal underscores how far Google has come in prioritizing copyright protection. It wasn't that long ago when YouTube was a rogue copyright infringer and yet that didn't deter Google from acquiring it. With Widevine and multiple other Google video initiatives, the company is extremely well-positioned to play a bigger role in the distribution and monetization of Hollywood content in 2011.

    If you want to learn more about Google, and also other key online/mobile video trends and predictions for 2011, then join me for a complimentary webinar I'll be hosting with The Diffusion Group's Colin Dixon next Wed., Dec. 15th at 11am PT/2pm ET. We'll demystify 2011 and leave plenty of time for audience Q&A.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (12 minutes, 17 seconds)


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    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!
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  • With Widevine Acquisition, Google is Poised to Go Hollywood

    Just as the week is wrapping up, Google has announced its acquisition of Widevine, a provider of digital content protection and video optimization technologies. Widevine was a private company that had raised over $50 million to date. The acquisition is very noteworthy as Google will now own a 60+ patent portfolio in the critical area of securing digital video delivery to every conceivable type of viewing device. As such, Google has a critical building block in its ability to deliver premium content to devices using its Android, Google TV and Chrome technologies.

    In addition to the technology, Google is also inheriting  Widevine's customer relationships with many leading consumer electronics, content and distribution companies. Among Widevine's long list of customers are Panasonic, LG, Best Buy, boxee, Sonic Solutions, LOVEFiLM, Samsung, DISH Network, Netflix, Blockbuster and others. All of these relationships give Google further opportunities to drive Google TV adoption and further immerse itself in the video ecosystem.

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  • Boxee and Widevine Partner for Enhanced Video Delivery

    Boxee and Widevine are announcing this morning that they plan to incorporate Widevine's DRM, adaptive streaming and virtual DVD controls into CE devices that contain Boxee's digital media software. The move gives Boxee a more complete solution to offer CE providers looking to bring both content and connectivity to their devices.

    Widevine has been on a roll recently, signing deals with EchoStar, Sonic Solutions, LOVEFiLM and others in the past few months. Widevine is benefiting from an explosion of connected devices that bring online video to TVs. Consumer electronics manufacturers must ensure that video is delivered securely and complies with digital rights, and plays out in high-quality. In addition Widevine offers a "trick play" feature with progressive download that allows users to fast forward or rewind like they would with a DVD, without the annoying buffering.

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  • Widevine Announces Product Update, List of Supported Devices and New Customers

    Widevine is announcing the 4.4.4 version of its video optimization and DRM platform today, with new features, a list of supported devices and new customers. Widevine's CEO Brian Baker brought me up to speed yesterday.

    Widevine is supporting HTTP streaming and also adaptive bit rate streaming for live events and shows, not just on-demand. Devices supported include Apple products, Blu-ray players (Haier, LG, Philips, Samsung, Toshiba), connected TVs, Nintendo Wii, Windows PCs and 50 models of set-top boxes. As TV Everywhere services begin to roll out, secure delivery is a key to success, and Brian explained that Widevine is positioning itself to be in the middle of the action.

    On the customer front, Netflix and Best Buy are being announced as new customers. Netflix has been aggressively rolling out new content and supported devices for its Watch Instantly streaming feature. Brian wouldn't confirm, but it seems fair to assume that Widevine is the DRM solution Netflix is using for streaming to the Nintendo Wii, which, given its massive installed base could quickly become a significant percentage of Netflix's streaming use (it just went live last week). In a related move, last week Irdeto announced that Netflix had licensed its Cloakware software as part of its DRM efforts.  

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

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  • Netflix Signs Up Irdeto to Secure Streaming Delivery

    Irdeto, the digital media security provider, is announcing this morning that Netflix has licensed the company's Cloakware Embedded Security software as part of its solution to secure content streamed to multiple consumer devices. Cloakware is a set of tools to defend against unauthorized tampering and attacks. Irdeto has a broad customer base internationally and has lately been raising its profile in the U.S.

    For Netflix, the push for enhanced security comes as the company begins expanding to additional CE devices beyond the desktop for its hugely popular Watch Instantly streaming feature. The iPad is the first new device Netflix has targeted, and its app is considered one of the most widely downloaded in the iPad's first weeks on the market. No doubt this success will spawn further Netflix Watch Instantly implementations, particularly as competing tablets come on the market in 2010 and smartphones proliferate, especially those powered by Android.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #37 - October 23, 2009

    Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 37th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for October 23rd, 2009.

    This week Daisy and I discuss my post from yesterday, "In the Digital Era, Disney is Walking to the Beat of its Own Drummer," which picks up on a WSJ article from Wednesday about the company's new DRM initiative dubbed "Keychest." Disney appears to be taking a lone-wolf approach since other Hollywood studios and technology companies have rallied around DECE, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem. When combined with its ongoing resistance to TV Everywhere (while other cable networks jump on board), I argue in the post that Disney appears to be adopting a much more individualistic approach to how it envisions pricing and delivering its content in the digital era.

    On the TV Everywhere topic, Daisy shares observations from a recent Beet.tv executive roundtable she covered, in which participants debated the concept's benefits to consumers. Daisy cites how the NYTimes.com isn't currently offering embeddable video as an example of how rights remain a key challenge for online video distribution. Online rights will be one of the factors determining how much content is made available in TV Everywhere at launch.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (14 minutes, 59 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

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  • In the Digital Era, Disney is Walking to the Beat of its Own Drummer

    Yesterday's WSJ article about Disney's new DRM initiative, dubbed "Keychest" was another sign that in the digital era, Disney keeps walking to the beat of its own drummer. Combine Keychest with Disney CEO Bob Iger's repeated skepticism about TV Everywhere and the need for Disney to receive incremental payments for online distribution and it's not hard to conclude that Disney envisions retaining much more control over how its content is delivered and priced going forward. It's also not hard to conclude that Disney's largest individual shareholder Steve Jobs's influence is being felt in the company's decision-making.

    The Keychest DRM initiative in particular shows a real streak of separatism by Disney given the critical mass that DECE (the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem) has gained. DECE counts among its members multiple studios (Sony, Warner Bros., NBCU, Lionsgate, Fox), technology providers (Microsoft, Intel, Dolby, Philips, HP, Cisco, etc.) and delivery outlets (Comcast, Best Buy). Granted, DECE hasn't shown a whole lot of progress yet, but that's pretty much to be expected when you have this many big players at the table. Still, even getting all these companies to join forces is a hopeful sign of inter-industry collaboration.

    And as the WSJ article underscores, the need to introduce some form of standardized DRM for movies in particular is growing more urgent. DVD sales, the industry's cash cow for years, are off by 25% at certain studios, yet movie downloads don't yet come close to filling the gap. Downloading is not only still a new experience for many, but it introduces key limitations (lack of portability, non-ubiquitous playback and confusing usage rights) that are significant inhibitors for future growth. Let's face it, not a lot of people are going to invest in building downloaded movie libraries when it's difficult or impossible to do something basic like play a movie on 2 different TV sets in their home. Downloading's issues need to be solved quickly if it is going to take off.

    Meanwhile, Disney's posture on TV Everywhere has created real questions about what the company's goals are in online content distribution. VideoNuze readers know that I've been bullish on TV Everywhere because it's a win for the 3 main constituencies - incumbent video providers (cable operators and telcos), cable TV networks and consumers. By forcefully advocating a plan to offer TV Everywhere as a value-add to existing subscribers, with no incremental fees, video providers laid the logical foundation for cable networks not to expect incremental distribution fees ("We're not charging anything extra, so you shouldn't expect to either.").

    From my point of view, rationale cable network executives should be excited with the prospect of TV Everywhere, as it provides them an on-ramp to online distribution (which they've been shut out of to date, given the absence of a sound online business model and fearing a backlash from paying distributors if they offered their content for free streaming) while preserving their incumbent dual revenue-stream approach and expanding their advertising potential.

    Nonetheless, Disney seems unsatisfied. CEO Iger continues to float the idea of incremental payments for online access, even suggesting it will launch its own subscription services. That could mean consumers face the prospect of paying twice for the same content, which is unrealistic even for ESPN's vaunted sports coverage. Disney has seen success with ESPN 360, its premium online service, but it offers distinct content (supplementary pro-sports coverage and niche sports coverage) from its flagship channels. And it should be noted that broadband ISPs pay for 360, not consumers directly.

    I tend to believe we're seeing Steve Jobs's influence behind the scenes with both Keychest and Disney's posture on TV Everywhere. That's pure speculation on my part I'll admit. But "Think Different" is more than a slogan for Jobs and Apple. The company's ability to succeed by pursuing a non-conformist, innovative path (e.g. iPods, iTunes, iPhones, Macs, etc.) in the face of market norms is beyond dispute. Emboldened by Apple's success and understanding the strength of Disney's franchises as an insider suggests Jobs would encourage Disney not to be constrained by nascent industry-wide initiatives. At a minimum Apple provides Disney with a pretty compelling case study of how to succeed by zigging when others are zagging.

    No question, Disney has incredible brands, and is probably in the best position among major content providers to influence how things will unfold in the digital era. And its investment in Hulu shows it is willing (albeit belatedly), to align with joint industry initiatives. Still, its Keychest project and resistance to TV Everywhere raise the possibility that in pursuing its own path it could not only miss out on or delay benefiting from the efforts of others in the industry, but could also be over-reaching with the result being consumer confusion and discontent. Disney holds strong cards, but it needs to be careful how it plays them.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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