Today content providers spend a lot of money on creating and distributing content. While it is increasingly hard to churn a profit in the competitive streaming industry, did you know that the projected revenue loss due to piracy in 2022 is $52 billion?
With many content creators moving to streaming services, protecting their content from hackers is essential. Hence Content protection or Digital Rights Management (DRM) becomes a critical part of the video streaming pipeline.
After a streaming platform provider has decided to use DRM for content security, they must identify the right DRM vendor to work with. With a large number of variables (both technical and business) affecting the choice of a vendor, we decided to go straight to the vendors themselves and ask them a simple question –
What are the top five criteria to consider while choosing a DRM vendor?
Here we have compiled the responses from a few well-known DRM vendors like BuyDRM, castLabs, EZDRM, Irdeto, Intertrust, and Verimatrix about what they think are critical criteria for choosing the right DRM product/vendor.
Top five criteria for choosing a DRM vendor
1. Trust & Expertise
Security is something that many companies claim to provide. However, it is essential to identify the experts in this field. How do you do that?
One way is to see how long the DRM provider has been in the business. A DRM provider doing business for decades will definitely be more aware of the market requirements than someone who has been around for only a few years. Also, looking at their client list will give you an idea of how well-established the vendor is in the industry.
“You should always choose a DRM provider that works within the industry standards. This will enable the simplest integration and best long-term support options across a wide range of different video preparation workflows”Olga Kornienko, Co-founder and COO, EZDRM
Any streaming service will have multiple integration points, right from encoding to players. If the DRM is not compatible with the other technologies powering your streaming platform, it is not going to be an easy task to integrate them. Hence, the DRM provider should be flexible enough to integrate with any encoding, CDN, or Player platform.
Tomorrow if you plan to update any of your technology providers in the streaming pipeline, the DRM provider should also be aligned to work with the new provider with minimal changes to your workflow.
Hence it is necessary to choose a DRM provider with a wide partner ecosystem.
“High profile events are the ultimate test for OTT services, and that is why it is so important for a multi-DRM solution to deliver the required reliability and availability to meet industry expectations.”Shane McCarthy, COO Video Entertainment, Irdeto
Today, a streaming service might be catering to 100,000 subscribers, of whom about 10,000 are active at any time. Things are going well without an issue. Suppose tomorrow; the streaming provider acquires a deal for a big sporting league like the IPL cricket league in India or NFL in the US. Suddenly the number of active users might scale up to 250,000 to 300,000 per hour. Does your DRM have the capability to scale to increased requests without any issues? Without causing additional latency?
Hence it is essential to choose a DRM that can offer a high license delivery throughput while maintaining a low license delivery latency.
A way to ensure reliability is having a solution that can scale to match peaks in demand, no matter where the customer is operating in the world – this is achieved by a globally distributed multi-region distribution network that provides redundancy and fall over mechanisms.James Hynard, Sales Manager, castLabs
How much traffic can the vendor handle? If the Multi-DRM system gets congested, QoE drops, and can lead to subscriber churn, increased call center costs, or even brand deterioration.Sebastian Braun, Head of Streaming, Verimatrix
Support is one of the most critical criteria in the whole value chain.
If an OTT service goes down even for a few seconds during high profile event, the impact on the streaming provider could be disastrous. Time is crucial in such circumstances, and getting timely support can make a huge difference.
Even if your streaming service does not cater to high-profile events, if the DRM doesn’t work for one night, and if you don’t get the necessary support for the next few days, the impact it will have on your business is not negligible. Hence it is necessary to choose a DRM vendor that provides 24/7 support.
Sebastian Braun from Verimatrix lists a couple of questions that need to be asked about the support a DRM vendor can provide.
How big is the vendor and can they provide great support? What are their SLAs? Will someone pick up the phone on the weekend in case of issues?Sebastian Braun, Head of Streaming, Verimatrix
“Security is not something once you purchase it’s done, security is a journey”Manas Mati, Managing Director, Expressplay at Intertrust
Companies might argue that price is not important when it comes to security. But if you have narrowed it down to a few DRM providers who have everything on your checklist, the final decision will rely on the price. Because for any business, it boils down to reducing costs and increasing profits.
But how do you make the right decision based on price? DRM providers have price slabs based on the volume. Instead of comparing the costs for your current volume, you will need to consider future projections for your business and identify the right DRM vendor whose pricing model will be viable when you scale as a business.
Value Added Services
“Choose a company that is basically helping you to give the broader ranges of a content security solution, not necessarily just DRM because you will need a lot more services surrounding that over a period of time.”Manas Mati, MD Expressplay at Intertrust
Many companies we talked to also said that the other important aspect while choosing a DRM vendor is looking at the additional value-added services they offer. These value-added services include Concurrent Stream Management, GeoBlocking, Watermarking, Anti privacy, etc. There might not be a need for additional services initially, but it is definitely good to have features that could come in handy when expanding your business offerings.
Technical Aspects of Choosing a DRM
Hunter Levy says it is important to ask these technical questions while choosing a DRM-
“What platforms do I need to cover?Hunter Levy, Director of Marketing, BuyDRM
What DRMs are compatible with the targeted playback environments?
What media formats are compatible with the DRM chosen?
What players to use?
And What encoder/packagers to use?”
If you are trying to understand the technical aspects of integrating the DRM into your workflow, here is an interesting article that discusses the compatibility of MultiDRM with other streaming technologies.
We hope the above points will help you choose the right DRM vendor. If you are looking for a comprehensive list of DRM vendors in the streaming industry, you can refer here to the OTTVerse DRM Directory.
Finally, we would like to thank the following executives who took the time to offer their piece of mind to this article:
Hunter Levy, Director at Marketing, BuyDRM
James Hynard, Sales Manager, castLabs
Olga Kornienko, Cofounder/COO, EZDRM
Shane McCarthy, COO of Video Entertainment, Irdeto
Manas Mati, Managing Director, Expressplay at Intertrust
Sebastian Braun, Head of Streaming, Verimatrix, Verimatrix