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NDS finds way to protect Tablet pay TV

NDS has always said software only systems for video protection are not good enough. Well it's changed its tune

By PETER WHITE

Published: 1 September, 2011

READ MORE: Mobile Content | Handset | Android | iOS

NDS over the past two decades would tell anyone who asked that it was far safer to use special hardware to hide encryption keys for decoding paid video content, and would often poke fun rivals who tried to do it only with software.

But as general purpose tablets have emerged as viewing platforms, without special security chips, the race was on for ways to bring video safely to a tablet using applications that were entirely downloadable, with no special hardware support. And it hasn't been first to do this, because, by its own admission, it has taken it quite some time.

But all that holier-than-thou, hardware pro rhetoric aimed at rivals like Irdeto and Verimatrix has gone out the window and NDS has shrugged its shoulders and said "Oh well, we'd better get on a do a software version of our own."

Newcomer Arxan has been at it for a while and Irdeto's Cloakware is the grandfather in this market and these fought to partner, across the broad, with other DRM players, and to get operators onside to the idea. But because the new NDS Videoguard Connect was developed for two of the most powerful satellite operators in the world, DirecTV and Sky NDS has been able to put a software upgrade together for existing Videoguard sites, which will talk to iOS and Android devices, connected TVs, PCs and gaming consoles. Each one needed a separate lower level layer designed purely for that hardware.

Overnight NDS has done two things, legitimized hardened software environments for video protection - using brand the new technologies of obfuscation and system unit authentication - which the others have been espousing, so that such services can all be downloaded. And in one step it has stolen a huge chunk of the market, as all 90 or so operators who use NDS will now see little point pursuing other plans, when they can have the whole service as a software upgrade.

Every other pay TV operator is on short notice to get TV Everywhere strategies which work and are safe, or they risk free to air TV offering competitive catch up services Over the Top. If the free to air brigade opens up tablets more rapidly and more meaningfully, because they need no encryption, then Pay TV will suffer. For a fuller version of this story go to www.rethinkresearch.biz

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