Intertrust Expands ExpressPlay XCA

Intertrust Technologies Corporation, a California based pioneer of DRM technology, has expanded its ExpressPlay XCA standard based software conditional access (CA) system for smart TVs and set top boxes.

Operators can now use ExpressPlay XCA to bridge the gap between CA and DRM content protection in a single, converged broadcast and broadband service, which has been a goal in video security for some time.

ExpressPlay XCA builds on the longer established sister product Express Play DRM, a universal protection product that supports all the leading DRMs to simplify deployment of large-scale OTT services capable of reaching almost all target devices that consumers around the world might own. This in turn exploits the Marlin technology originally developed by Intertrust around 2005 as a standard open DRM intended to usurp proprietary offerings like Microsoft’s PlayReady or Apple’s Fair Play. In the event this did not happen, although Marlin did earlier gain some traction, notably in Japan where it was adopted as the national IPTV standard in 2007 and deployed by web portal Actvila at the same time, which was backed by Hitachi, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba.

Marlin also enjoyed a few successes in Europe, being chosen as the DRM for the Italian internet TV services platform developed by the Tivu consortium, in France for the TNT 2.0 specifications from the HD Forum and in the UK by the YouView open connected platform which has been adopted by BT.

But more recently interest in Marlin as a DRM in its own right has largely dried up as the streaming world has crystallized around the big three browser DRMs, Apple’s FairPlay, Microsoft’s PlayReady and Google Widevine. It therefore became important for platforms and services that want to reach the vast majority of target devices to support these DRMs, along with Adobe Access to a lesser extent, although that is rarely specified now for new deployments.

However, the underlying technology has re-emerged as a major component for so called cloud based universal DRM enabling interoperability among the others. Intertrust has collared this market with its ExpressPlay as a cloud platform that provides content distributors, pay TV operators and broadcasters with a common single service that combines content protection audience analytics and targeted advertising.

The key point is that it incorporates an SDK (Software Development Kit) avoiding need for custom integration with these DRMs, along with native support for PlayReady as well naturally as Marlin itself. In fact it has three components: the DRM service, SDK and packaging tools, not all of which are always necessary. Media devices supporting Marlin or PlayReady work with ExpressPlay as it is, while to address others the SDK is needed. In all cases device players access services protected this way by first obtaining the LA URLs (License Acquisition URLs) for the relevant DRM product solution. This is done by requesting tokens from the ExpressPlay Multi DRM service API. This in turn requires an API Key (Customer Authenticator), available in the ExpressPlay admin backend system.

This combination has gained massive traction, being supported by major cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which offers plans including universal content protection based on Marlin from $10 a month. As a result, Intertrust chose the occasion of IBC to announce that ExpressPlay DRM now protects OTT TV content for over 2 billion devices.

ExpressPlay has roots dating back to Intertrust’s foundation in 1990 followed by the first decade of DRM deployments to protect any form of digital product, including software. Marlin was then introduced by Intertrust in 2005 along with partners Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, and Sony.

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