As even mobile hardware has now improved beyond what average consumers might actually need on a daily basis, the emphasis on software has become more important in recent years. Add to this the ease with which content can be shared and businesses are now terrified of piracy, as the nearly constant battle over copyright laws demonstrates. This is despite the fact that piracy has has not been demonstrated to negatively affect content sales.
So, as more and more content moves online, content companies will turn ever more toward digital rights management (DRM) schemes to protect their videos, music, and games. Analyst Firm ABI Research today predicted that the market for DRM software will reach $1.2 billion by 2018, nearly catching up to traditional conditional access (CAS) schemes. The rise of the DRM market will, of course, be linked to how quickly consumers move away from traditional content models such as cable TV in favor of streaming and other online options.
“Pay TV content protection markets are being turned on their heads as responsibility for delivering IP video content to the consumer is starting to shift from pay TV distributors, such as Comcast, DirecTV, and Sky, to programmers including NBCUniversal, HBO, and ESPN,” said Sam Rosen, practice director at ABI. “The shift from classic CAS products which, simply speaking, deliver content to a set-top box to more DRM products, which can work with third party smartphones, tablets, and connected TVs, has already been well described. Equally surprising is that many of these technologies will become standardized through MPEG-Dash and Ultraviolet such that the responsibility will shift from encryption algorithms to end-to-end system implementation. Premium value content protection, as well as live streaming of TV everywhere, are emerging areas within the DRM landscape; it is these areas where providers need to be focused on differentiation today.”
Ignored in this prediction is the fact that, like the paranoia surrounding piracy, companies looking for a DRM solution are missing the point. Not only is the entire concept rather silly, but pirates have always found a way to circumvent it. More often than not, the only people inconvenienced by DRM are the very customers that legitimately pay for content.