Broadcast-equipment vendor Grass Valley, and middleware and content-security vendor Irdeto, have partnered to develop a multiscreen solution that is aimed at the world of broadcast. For managing content ingest, metadata, and transcoding, the solution relies upon Grass Valley's Mediafuse product; Mediafuse oversees the core, content management processes that allow live and pre-recorded content to be formatted, then IP-encapsulated for distribution to connectable devices. In order to ensure that this content is secured for IP distribution, the solution relies on the Irdeto Broadband suite, which at its heart consists of Irdeto's ActiveCloak DRM.
Also at NAB this year, both Harris and Harmonic have released multiscreen hardware in the form of dedicated transcoding platforms, for content wrapping and repurposing. Such platforms indicate that multiscreen solutions are set to become affordable as packaged products, rather than remain boutique systems that have often required siloed workflows, and a dense archive of pre-encoded and wrapped video assets.
The joint solution has been designed so that broadcasters who use current iterations of Mediafuse can upgrade to the new functionality, and importantly, leave their existing production infrastructure intact.
The opportunity to reach IP-connectable devices is not limited to pay-TV. Indeed, although many pay-TV operators have begun to distribute content to PCs, gaming consoles, and other connectable devices - and where this content includes linear broadcast that networks could directly distribute themselves - the market is not remotely saturated, nor is there much risk that pay-TV multiscreen would crowd out similar initiatives taken directly by broadcasters.
The UK offers a telling example. In 2010, of the 83m installed connectable Blu-Ray players, connectable TV sets, Xbox360's, PS3s, smartphones and PCs, only 14m of these are addressed by pay-TV - corresponding to a total penetration of 16 per cent. There is ample opportunity for broadcasters to address the remaining 69m devices. Moreover, across both Western Europe and North America, pay-TV multiscreen penetration is much lower; pay-TV device penetration stands at 4 per cent in both regions.
Although Grass Valley's and Irdeto's solution will allow broadcasters to add multi-device distribution capability onto their existing platforms, use of a single DRM - Irdeto's - may not be sufficient to address the totality of devices in the market; this is because the DRM market has the potential to fragment. While Microsoft's Playready, Apple's Fairplay and Adobe's Flash Access have historically constituted the means to secure audio-visual content, solutions from Widevine, NDS, Nagravision and Irdeto have broadened the set of DRMs from which broadcasters and pay-TV operators may pick. With Marlin DRM making additional inroads in the world of hybrid broadcast-IP television - on the UK's YouView platform, and Italy's Tivu' platform - the market is moving further away from universal, platform-and-device-independent DRM. If pay-TV operators, broadcasters, and OTT providers wish to reach the entirety of the addressable device ecosystem - or at least have the potential to reach all addressable devices - multi-DRM support will near assuredly be required.