News Features

A smarter strategy for multi-DRM deployment

6 October 2016
A smarter strategy for multi-DRM deployment

As the prevalence of online video service subscribers continues to grow at a strong double-digit pace, video service operators (VSOs) around the world are collectively shifting toward delivering more content at higher resolutions online. In order to succeed with online services, VSOs must move away from simpler streaming encryption solutions and adopt full-fledged digital rights management (DRM) protection, and their profitability and growth are heavily dependent on getting their monetisation components right.

New research from Frost & Sullivan reveals that the perceived high cost of a commercial DRM system and perceived low complexity of building DRM in-house are compelling well over half VSOs today to attempt to build their own security platforms. However, while this may seem like a good short-term tactic to quickly roll out a new service through an app or a Web browser, it is rarely an effective long-term strategy.

The unanticipated cost of ownership

At present, there is a limited understanding of the true levels of cost and complexity associated with a do-it-yourself approach to DRM, but globally, VSOs are finding that the modern over-the-top (OTT) ecosystem is a treacherous landscape and is best navigated in partnership with an experienced multi-DRM vendor.

A major issue associated with building a security infrastructure in-house is that VSOs are faced with having to create and permanently fund dedicated product management, development and testing teams with competency in security. As a result, they are committing themselves to a significant ongoing R&D investment in maintaining and expanding the secure playback and monetisation platform.

This complexity is further amplified by constant disruptions in technology. 2016 will see the shipment of nearly 2.5 billion connected devices across nine device types, and keeping track of new devices, platforms and technologies places significant strain on player and server teams. Delivering a service consistently, reliably and securely to this vast plethora of endpoints is a formidable undertaking, but one that must be achieved if a service is to break out of the noise to achieve significant growth and retention of subscribers

VSO engineering teams building secure players in-house often under-appreciate the magnitude of this fragmentation challenge when estimating the total cost of ownership of their DRM solutions. Frost & Sullivan research finds that the average cost of porting a secure player to a new platform is in the range of $100,000 to $250,000 USD. Services must support a minimum of 10-12 devices to be considered viable and ideally should be supported via browsers or apps on more than 40 devices (with that number growing every year) in order to be competitive. DRM core logics must be chosen optimally for each device, creating another layer of management overhead and complexity. Accordingly, the R&D investment required simply for upfront development itself can quickly run into the millions of dollars.

Navigating the complexities of DRM development

In a new paper on the total cost of ownership of DRM solutions, Frost & Sullivan suggests that undertaking in-house development of a full-fledged DRM platform is comparable to instituting a new product line that is tangential to the VSO’s intended product roadmap and outside of its core competency. The paper warns that spending scarce resources in an attempt to experiment in reinventing the wheel is a risky business strategy that can put a strain on a VSO’s bottom line.

According to the piece, multi-DRM vendors are much better equipped to handle the underlying fragmentation of various devices, core DRM systems and compression and streaming standards, as compared to all but the largest and most technologically savvy operators. By tapping into this expertise, VSOs gain agility, reduce costs, strengthen security, and tighten protection of revenue, all while at the same time broadening the reach of their services and improving the overall customer experience.

What is technologically revolutionary with an in-house implementation can become simply evolutionary with a reliable partner. The revolution can then move to customer attraction and revenue growth, allowing VSOs to successfully ride the OTT opportunity wave. To learn more about the total cost of ownership of multi-DRM strategy, download the paper from Frost & Sullivan at

By Steve Christian, Verimatrix

Similar stories