By Tim Pearson, Sr. Director Product Marketing, NAGRA
Broadcasters have traditionally had access to and been able to control their own networks. Doing so enables them to govern what is distributed and, just as importantly, manage the security framework that sat on top. For many years that framework relied on conditional access systems (CAS), secure ecosystems with a physical card that would plug into the operator-controlled set-top box to ensure the subscriber could only watch the content they had subscribed to.
In retrospect, that environment was relatively easy to control compared to the maze of networks and unmanaged devices we find ourselves with today. While the IP revolution has enabled consumers to match their viewing habits to their personal requirements, it has created headaches for traditional linear pay-TV. With the vastly increasing number of new streaming sites and internet connectivity improvements, it’s possible to access content when, where, how and on whichever device you choose. The STB is no longer the access control unit it once was.
Instead, operators are now trying to catch up to meet demand and stay relevant in the IP-era. Solutions have to be extended over IP, offering catch-up, on-demand, pay-per-view, and increasingly linear TV content, including live sports, seamlessly across any connected device - all of which gives today’s operators a sizeable headache.
The Problem of IP
Migrating to IP as a reaction rather than proactive strategy is not a recipe for success. Operators may have to manage yet another system for the IP world with the knowledge that they have little control of the end devices save having to make sure their app works on a seemingly bewildering number of devices to satisfy the consumer’s demands–else face increased churn as content is sourced from elsewhere. On top of this is the problem of content distribution, as IP environments have a higher number of potential weak points and are more susceptible to attacks from pirates around the world.
This market shift means operators are finding themselves increasingly having to protect and capitalise on their existing investments, while facing increased downward pressures on ARPU, alongside competition from telcos and D2C streaming providers–most of which were built natively in an IP world, while also protecting themselves from more and more threats. These pressures could make operators question whether it’s worth moving to IP at all and there are legitimate reasons for thinking this. Recent findings show that 42% of operators believe IP video is less reliable than broadcast so ensuring a smooth quality of experience also becomes a very important challenge that needs addressing. Similarly, over half (50.2%) said that IP video services making them more vulnerable to piracy is a very or moderately important challenge they need to tackle. However, these challenges cannot negate the consumer groundswell that demands access to content on their terms; meaning operators need to also offer their services via IP if they want to stay relevant.
But migrating to IP does not have to be a headache. It’s an opportunity to open up new avenues for growth, monetise with new business models and reach new addressable markets. The operators that are moving to an all-IP solution–of which 53.9% expect to be within ten years–are focusing on three key themes to help them achieve this goal:
- Extending the broadcast solution to include OTT: All-IP means operators can secure partnerships with a wider range of services, including with OTT providers. For example, operators around the world have secured exclusive partnerships with Disney to coincide with the Disney+ rollout, giving them a unique offering to consumers, especially parents faced with entertaining kids during the global lockdown–caused by COVID-19. All-IP also enables the deployment of a common security services platform, such as NAGRA.SSP, which is designed to manage all security (broadcast and IP) through a single platform to reduce complexity and operational costs associated with having to manage two solutions.
- Premium security as standard: Broadcasters are used to premium security for their content. NAGRA’s approach ensures that operators can match their broadcast security with an equivalent for OTT through innovative direct-to-TV offerings such as TVkey Cloud and secure streaming technologies that protect highest quality content, including 4K Ultra HD. What is more, they are underpinned by core capabilities such as centralised threat detection to forewarn and react to any content security breach.
- My device, my choice: With consumers demanding access to content on the device of their choice, operators face the challenge of providing access to their offering across a range of devices whilst ensuring their service remains secure. However, the benefit of BYOD means the operator’s focus is on securing the service rather than having to actively manage the device. Further, supporting a range of retail-based devices allows operators to increase their service reach to subscribers that they may not have been able to address with their ‘traditional’ set-top box service.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series where we’ll explore some of the tools available to providers who are looking to migrate to an all-IP setup. In the meantime, if you have any questions on how we can help you execute on your migration to IP strategy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.