Hybrid TV App launch & The DRM Challenge

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Boom Labs have been busy working on a new Hybrid TV project in Malaysia. The cross device application has tested through a beta release with a closed user group and is now scheduled for full production release.

The application is powered by Boom Labs proprietary media publishing system GlueMPS, which provides the customer with a single end-to-end workflow from ingest to content delivery. The project, code named ‘Spinflicks’, will launch with several applications implemented on Boom Labs new application and api framework ‘Hybrid TV’. The Hybrid TV framework has been developed to maximize content discovery on new touch screen desktops and screencasting applications whilst optimising video playback and extending DRM support across browsers and native applications.

Challenges of DRM
DRM has been a focus of the project since inception, given the timing of the Connected TV industry moving towards a standards based approach to DRM with native HTML5 support in browsers via MSE/EMEs, plus the recent announcements by Google to phase out support of the NPAPI (Netscape Plugin API) and Microsoft not moving Silverlight to Chromes choice of PPAPI (Pepper Plugin API), leaving the industry without a Silverlight Playready DRM solution in Chrome. Unfortunately, there are additional challenges in migrating video streaming solutions from Silverlight to Flash or DASH if the application requires digital rights management (DRM). Most DRM in a Silverlight application uses PlayReady. Neither Flash nor Chrome’s MSE/EME implementation supports PlayReady.

Supporting DRM in a Flash application requires the use of Adobe Primetime DRM (formerly Flash Access). Currently, the only DRM available through the EMEs in Chrome is Widevine (Modular). Now here’s the clincher. Widevine Modular is only supported in 64bit browsers. The good news here is that common encryption (CENC) allows for standard encryption that can be decrypted from a variety of DRM systems. So it’s possible to have keys from PlayReady, WideVine, or Primetime DRM available to decrypt the content, based on the platform on which it is playing. However, running multiple license servers and enabling CENC is a big undertaking most start-up customers do not have the budget to undertake, especially considering the level of R&D involved and (still) evolving quality of playback and functionality.

To provide a secure cross device video application framework Boom Labs encodes and DRM packages for:

– Adobe Primetime: Flash Player
– Adobe Primetime: HTML5 (for Firefox)
– PlayReady: Silverlight
– Widevine Classic: An additional plugin install running alongside of Flash
– Widevine Modular: for DASH

In addition to the mentioned plugins above, the HTML5 specs provide encrypted media extensions to enable DRM level protection natively in browsers with all the major DRM vendors involved. The penetration is still relatively low though, with different DRM systems for each browser (and some with no support yet). So It’s no doubt we are in a transition phase where customers should think carefully about the way they encode an package their video and audio libaries with an eye on the future of CENC / EMEs for HTML 5 but keeping in mind the next 12 months will require a Hyrid approach using plugins and MSE/EME implementation where possible.

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On March 12, 2015
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