Faster than expected penetration makes 4KTV content protection a growing concern

DetailsEditor | 09 July 2015

The good news for content firms looking to expand offerings with 4KTV quality content is that penetration is increasing; the bad is that security is also a growing issue, says an ABI Research report.

The analyst's Set-Top Box and Home Networks and Multiscreen Video Middleware and DRM Market Research found that high resolution premium video, including 4K and Ultra HD content, is a fast-growing market and therefore content protection services must follow suit with adaptability and preparedness for the expanding space.

The research noted that current guidelines for 'proper' 4KTV content protection rely on deep hardware-level integration of security measures in combination with software security, creating an end-to-end secure system from publishing to consumption. This involves dedicated space on system on chip (SoC) technology.

Yet even though such hardware root of trust and trusted execution environments (TEE) will likely result in stronger security, ABI cautions that there will be a commensurate increased reliance on new hardware. Moreover it warns that legacy hardware, including set-top boxes (STBs), smart TVs, desktops and mobile devices, could face difficulties with being supported in 4K-compliant security set-ups. On top of hardware security, ABI expects technologies like forensic watermarking will be implemented for copyright and source identification. It also observes that the overall video market's continuing focus on multiscreen means there are many more factors to consider for security than in years past. Not only more devices in general, but also many more device types need to be considered and supported in the security system, and the importance of end-to-end security adds another layer of difficulty

The company adds that thanks to the large number of parties involved — including chipset vendors, content studios, CE manufacturers, etc — deploying an acceptable content protection scheme can be much more challenging. Video delivery companies have had to address this growth across their platforms with modular offerings to support multiple use case types; with 4K content looming, modularity in content protection is equally important, it says.

"Ultra HD TV penetration is expected to reach 61% in North America by 2020, which is higher than expected", said ABI Research analyst Eric Abbruzzese. "Along with TVs, browser and application based streaming services will continue to roll out 4K content at a quickening rate, creating an expanding marketplace filled with premium content from studios that demand strong content protection."