Bitstream watermarking can help content owners catch thieves of OTT content quicker

Bitstream watermarking

Presently, the OTT industry is showing a great deal of interest in video watermarking technology as an approach to controlling piracy by tracking premium streaming content and to sift the legitimate user from the illegitimate one. Through forensic watermarking, content owners embed a robust watermarking ID into each frame of the video asset. 

Pirates attack various types of content, but they tend to maximize their risks by making ultra HD videos and live games as the object of their focus. These two categories are considered as weak links in the content distribution ecosystem.

There are many industry forums which have discussed watermarking technology to counter international piracy. They include Video Streaming Alliance, DASH-IF, and Ultra HD Forum. Though, as the names suggest, these groups discuss ways to standardize processes in technology adoption and uniform protocols, but also discuss content security of DRM protected content, which is the backbone of OTT security infrastructure.

Adaptive bit rates on OTT platforms are a must these days, as device fragmentation means that the subscriber may not always have access to high-speed broadband. These forums are predominantly concerned about developing solutions around MPEG-DASH and HLS formats, as most devices can be covered with these two formats.

Among other strategies to counter pirates, professionals are giving bitstream video watermarking a good chance. In this method, the encoder replaces some bytes of data from each video frame. The pattern of replacement in each video frame constitutes watermarking ID. Professionals use this method of watermarking over, say, A/B watermarking because it allows them to extract the watermark quicker by needing a shorter video sequence to track the thief.

In the comparable A/B watermarking technology, server overhead is a deterrent, as it has to save two copies of each encoded video. Bitstream watermarking gives a clear advantage, as only a copy of the altered video is needed. Content owners can easily extract this watermark from the suspicious video and tally it with the database they maintain to reach the culprit user.



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