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Irdeto Announces Secuirty for Android TV

Content security vendor Irdeto has launched its offering for Android TV as that platform gathers steam in the set top box software market. Called Irdeto Armor, the package is designed to protect devices, data and services built on Android TV, preventing the loading of unauthorized apps as well as combating content piracy.

As a provider of cardless security, Irdeto has to link up at the hardware level with the set top boxes in order to provide robust security based on roots of trust embedded in the device. It therefore has partnerships with the relevant chip set vendors allowing it to pre-integrate its

Armor for Android TV with Irdeto Cloaked CA, its cardless CA package. Irdeto claims this pre-integration enables operators to shorten the launch time of a hybrid set-top box (STB) by three to six months. Irdeto Armor combines conditional access (CA) and watermarking to protect premium content like 4K UHD, while supporting the primary DRMs to embrace the majority of connected devices.

Android TV is set for rapid growth in pay TV as a result of Google’s current approach giving operators more control over service provision and content recommendation than had been the case with earlier versions, according to a report published recently by Rethink TV, a division of the Bristol, UK, based analyst/research firm Rethink Technology Research. Called ‘How Android TV finally won the set-top wars – Report and Forecast 2018-2022’, this predicts the number of Android TV devices deployed worldwide will multiply four times between 2017 and 2020.

Rethink TV highlighted the importance of Android TV’s Operator Tier which allows operators much more scope for customizing the service with the custom launcher developed by Google and more ways of branding the UI. Previously, as the Rethink TV report put it, “Google TV was in the operator’s face trying to assert itself over the top of content owners and service providers”. Essentially Google was trying to wrest control of the set top box but realized that operators would not on any account deploy Android TV on that basis. So Google came back with a compromised approach where it gains access to the living room through the back door but leaves operators reasonable autonomy over the service.

While some operators are still wary of Google’s ultimate motives or how its strategy will evolve, the benefits such as much shorter time to market with services and new features, coupled with access to the Google app store, tend to trump any scruples. Smaller second and third tier operators are most willing to embrace Android TV in preference to the main alternative, the RDK (Reference Design Kit) platform. Introduced by Comcast around 2012, RDK had a similar goal to accelerate deployment of next-generation video combining broadcast and broadband services through pre-integrated, open-source software to drive customer-premises equipment (CPE) including set top boxes (STBs). Initially confined to cable TV, RDK has since been opened out to all forms of video delivery. However, it is still very much cable-centric with Comcast, Time Warner and Liberty Global now sharing the venture through RDK Management. There are still just around 13 deployments, although these are large operators including Comcast, Cox, Liberty Global, Rogers and Vodafone.

Android TV is set to achieve much higher numbers of deployments and also significantly higher revenue. But security might be one concern operators have with such an open platform as Android TV, according to Ed Barton, Chief Analyst of the Media, Entertainment and Consumer Practice at Ovum. “The competition from digital platforms is intensifying and relying on audience lock-in doesn’t work: operators have to balance the latitude offered by Android TV to finesse the user experience while protecting their ecosystems and business models alike,” said Barton. “Given how important security is in underpinning audience confidence and trust on premium TV and video platforms, who operators choose to work with is a technical, commercial and, ultimately, critical decision to get right.”

Irdeto contends that with its new Armor it is now well placed to fit that role and work with operators to secure services built around Android TV.

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