Intertrust’s Chief Product Officer, Tim Schaaff, spoke at NAB 2016 on the tremendous potential for OTT video services in emerging markets. A content industry veteran with head of Apple’s QuickTime development and President of Sony Network Entertainment International under his belt, Tim is now heading products like Intertrust’s ExpressPlay system. ExpressPlay is already the largest deployed content protection technology in China and used by 4 of the top 5 OTT service providers there, and is also gaining in popularity in India and Indonesia.
In his presentation entitled Emerging Markets and Content Protection: Not an Oxymoron, Schaaff noted that there are 2.5 billion households with broadband access, more than the US, Japan and Europe combined. Schaaff also directly took on the perceptions around piracy in these markets. While agreeing that piracy is a deep concern for Western media companies, he provided some context for the practice. “Content sharing has deep roots in these cultures. In many cases they don’t have access to content, but the need to share remains.”
Only Two Weeks to Make Money
Schaaff acknowledged the difficulty in overcoming long-established customs around content sharing and the technical savvy of many of the pirates in the market. Yet, he saw a way forward in cooperation with service providers in the market. “Local providers are now embracing content protection, at first for Hollywood but also later for their own content.” This is an important point. Emerging markets such as India and Nigeria have very active and vibrant content industries, but piracy limits the monetization opportunities available. “India produces more movies than anyone else. Yet, the industry only expects to make money in the first two weeks of theatrical release. After that, it’s all lost to piracy.”
Content protection is a way to manage the flow of content and ensure revenue for content creators around the world. Schaaff pointed out that “what is needed is a suite of tools that can be deployed in an affordable way,” As examples of how this can be done, he first pointed out a startup called Kiora which is active in both India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Using content protection technologies provided by Intertrust, one of the products produced by Kiora is a low-cost “around $20 in volume” server device that acts as both a media server and a Wi-Fi hot spot. The server is designed to deliver locally stored content over Wi-Fi to the low-cost smartphones whose sales are rapidly increasing in emerging markets. Able to be easily deployed in taxis, trains and busses, “it’s a great way for people to get content on the go and not overburden networks,” notes Schaaff.
Schaaff also pointed out the importance of open standards-based content protection technologies. “Many local service providers don’t want proprietary technologies controlled by large foreign technology companies.” He noted that Intetrust’s embrace of open-standards was one important factor behind Intertrust’s success in the Chinese market.