Google’s Widevine Modular DRM (“Widevine”) provides the capability to license, securely distribute, and protect playback of content on any Android and other consumer devices. Widevine is pre-integrated with Google Chrome, Chromium, Firefox and Microsoft Edge, Android mobile, STBs, and smart TVs. Licensing of UHD and early window content is enabled through integration with the hardware security and media capabilities of the device.
Widevine is also the default DRM for Android TV Operator Tier, which means operators can go to market without complex DRM integrations. Note that this is not true for the “other Android TV”, based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which can use other DRMs than Widevine but may require more integration and testing.
Adaptive bitrate streaming formats that can be used with Widevine include MPEG-DASH, Common Media Application Format (CMAF), and HLS. Support for standards-based Common Encryption (CENC; ISO/IEC 23001-7:2016) offers the advantage that a single protected file-set can be streamed to multiple devices, regardless of the DRM system they support, eliminating the need to create and store multiple file-sets.
Widevine protects content via three levels of security: L1, L2, and L3. L1 offers the greatest level of protection of the three and is usually mandated by content owners for premium content such as HD and Ultra HD. For a client device to display HD videos from a Widevine-secured service, it must be L1 certified. Widevine L2 and L3 certified devices display SD-quality videos regardless of subscription plan and device capabilities. In order to satisfy L1, all content processing, cryptography, and DRM policies such as output controls must be performed within the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), to prevent unauthorized access and copying of the media file. L2 only requires that cryptography, but not video processing, be carried out inside the TEE. L3 applies either when the device is not equipped with a TEE or when processing is done outside the TEE. Appropriate security measures must still be taken to protect the processing within the host OS.
Android devices support either L1 or L3, depending on hardware and software implementations, as does Chrome OS. Chrome on desktops only supports L3, which means that video playback is limited to sub-HD resolutions. Only L1 certified devices with content processing taking place inside the TEE may play HD or higher resolution video from Widevine secured streaming services.
Another important aspect to consider is Widevine’s Verified Media Path (VMP). The Widevine Desktop Browser Content Decryption Module (CDM) includes support for VMP, which provides a method to verify the authenticity of the browser framework. It provides an additional signal to determine if a browser-based implementation is sanctioned by Widevine. All Widevine browser-based integrations (platforms and applications) must support VMP, but VMP support is not available for Linux platforms.
Specifically, OTT service providers must instruct subscribers to update their browser and related components (including CDM) to the latest version, or else they may not be able to watch Widevine DRM protected content. In case of desktop Linux browsers without VMP support, please contact us for more information. For more details, please refer to the related FAQ topic.
Intertrust ExpressPlay Multi-DRM Service and Widevine Modular DRM
Content owners, OTT video operators, and other digital media providers can utilize Intertrust’s cloud-based ExpressPlay multi-DRM service that enables Widevine protected content playback on all devices supported by that DRM system. ExpressPlay multi-DRM service also supports Widevine L1 for hardware protection along with separate keys for the audio and video tracks, which are usually mandated by content owners for protection of premium and UHD content.
Android supports Widevine Modular DRM natively on Android version 4.4 and above. On earlier Android versions, as well as on some manufacturers’ devices, Widevine is not available natively. In such cases, the ExpressPlay Binary SDK for Android can be integrated into a native application to ensure playback of DRM protected content even on devices that do not support a native DRM.
Please refer to the DRM Compatibility matrix for a full overview of supported device types, and to our DRM FAQ for an explanation of technical concepts and terms. For more information from Widevine, please visit https://www.widevine.com/solutions/widevine-drm
Intertrust has amassed more than 20 years of experience in designing, developing, operating and supporting DRM systems including the ExpressPlay multi-DRM service that enables the use of all common DRMs and a vast array of client devices. The Intertrust Professional Services team consists of highly experienced staff, who will make sure each project is executed and delivered on time. Moreover, Intertrust is a Certified Widevine Implementation Partner (CWIP).