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Staying in Control in an Increasingly Open World

With every wish comes a curse

Pay TV operators have been adjusting their content strategy to respond to changing consumer needs and increased competition from over-the-top (OTT) video services. Their strategy has evolved from providing their own content (and often apps in a “walled garden”) to now integrating OTT video services into their offering. Many have been embracing open application platforms and integrating into a hybrid set top boxes (STBs) to offer consumers the widest range of video content from the convenience of one user interface and one remote control.

Open application platforms, while attractive to aggregate content apps and deliver choice consumers demand, raise a new set of risks for Pay TV operators due to their open nature. Android TV is increasingly the platform of choice for not only for hybrid STBs but also for pure OTT STBs. It provides a fast-track to play an aggregator role with attractive third-party content via its Google Play Store. The Google Play Store grows rapidly and already contains over 7,000+ apps for TV and despite Google’s security controls, Android TV-based STBs can be vulnerable to illegal and malicious apps.  Moreover, legitimate apps can be misused to stream pirate content via plug-ins. Finally, government regulations around certain apps and instructions to remove or limit their ability to function are becoming increasingly more common.

Stay in control

Irdeto has developed App Watch to help Pay TV operators address these potential risks and challenges by providing visibility and fine grained control over the superset of apps that have been loaded into the Operator Network. App Watch can monitor application penetration and usage, curtail illegal ones, and utilizes tools to effectively address unwelcome situations effectively with minimum impact to the rest of consumer base. This enables operators to minimize negative impacts to the consumer’s experience, reduce operational costs, and/or limit revenue leakage due to piracy.

App Watch utilizes a light software agent installed in each STB. The agent allows for anonymous monitoring of app usage and communicates securely with a dedicated cloud-based service.  When problematic apps are detected on the box, the agent receives commands from the backend to perform one of several actions, as defined in the operator’s policies. The agent may block installation, isolate or remove the problematic app, or display a notification to the end user.

Irdeto has completed a Data Privacy Impact Assessment and can advise operator on correct handling for GDPR or similar privacy requirements.

A management dashboard is provided and is populated with the superset of consumer application activity. Basic data reporting, such as what apps the subscribers are using, date of discovery in the operator’s platform, the threat and level of piracy, and any new trending applications, is provided. A more sophisticated set of insights is provided with App Watch Insights. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to map common user journeys between different apps to identify patterns in consumer behavior as well as to identify patterns of events that may be causing a degradation in QoS. Consumer behavior insights will be valuable in developing marketing efforts around popular third-party apps or determining how a competitor’s app is performing as an example (if the app is accessible via the Play Store). Regularly appearing STB performance issues identified by App Watch can be fed back to the support team to simplify troubleshooting during calls with individual customers. Operators may even wish to include the insights in their comparative performance evaluation of different chipsets and OEMs in their STB population.

In the fight against piracy, App Watch, Irdeto’s blacklisted apps and add-ons service, and personalized targeted reports provide operators with a comprehensive and powerful data set.  When combined with Irdeto’s anti-piracy services such as expert assessment of specific threats in the operator’s country, monitoring and detection of broadcast and online pirated content solutions, and investigation and enforcement on specific apps that are suspected of piracy, an operator is well equipped to combat video content pirates.

Remain vigilant, play fairly

Irdeto’s expertise bridges the gap between Silicon Valley and the pay TV industry. Our advice and guidance help operators to use the power of App Watch wisely, to meet operator business needs without straying into restrictive territory that could damage their relationship with subscribers or breach their Google licensing agreements. Irdeto is ready to support operators as they adapt to this new environment, helping them to protect their business, and their subscribers from harm.

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Tags: Irdeto