Forensic watermarking is required for premium video content protected with Google’s Widevine DRM


In the post-Covid-19 era, people are consuming a lot more content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms than they were doing previously. OTT viewers are being targeted by studios who produce video content. According to Digital TV Research, North American OTT revenue will reach USD 49 billion in 2020 and 94 billion by 2026. Revenue leakage, piracy, poor user management, credential co-consumption, device fragmentation, and unauthorised use of premium services are all increasing as a result of increased viewership and revenue.

OTT apps employ digital rights management ((DRM) technologies, such as Google Widevine, in order to prevent piracy. Many companies use multi-DRM software to manage video assets, but DRM protects content in a way that goes beyond preventing file piracy. OTT services can now handle fine-grained user management features per video asset with DRM technology, as opposed to the only channel-level DRM techniques available during IPTV. Video streams include live broadcasts, downloads, and video-on-demand streaming.

An OTT platform like Netflix or Amazon Prime can also provide subscription options based on different geographical regions or genres. OTT platforms are also aware of processor-level security provided by DRM technology providers, particularly Google, whose Widevine technology allows the app to play UHD files with adequate piracy protection. It allows OTT platforms to increase their revenue streams by making their most profitable plans accessible on Android-based mobile devices and smart TVs. With L1 security, Widevine provides the best protection against piracy when used in the trusted execution environment of a processor.

Forensic watermarking technology, which is often offered by the same DRM SaaS vendor that encrypts the video asset with Widevine, can supplement the Widevine protection. There are visible and invisible forms of Video watermarking already available. OTT platforms prefer the latter category because they want to include user and session IDs, time zone, geographic location, device information, etc. in every video frame.

Watermarks of this type are kept on file by multi-DRM vendors. Forensic watermark extraction and watermark matching can be done by a content owner using a multi-DRM vendor when a pirated video is discovered. It may lead them to the user and device responsible for the leak.