AWS Media Blog

CPIX, Your New Favorite 4-letter Word

Guest post by Juan Martinez Puig | Senior Product Manager, Irdeto

The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

Like many famous 4-letter words, CPIX conveys surprise, shock even, but not in a bad way. It stands for Content Protection Information Exchange, a rather bland term for a standard that brings very exciting changes for the media industry. Driven by the DASH Industry Forum, CPIX is designed to create operational efficiencies and slash the cost and launch time for your OTT services. Suppliers of video solutions such as Irdeto and AWS Elemental have already embraced CPIX and are at the forefront of its adoption.

As OTT matures, standardization is the next step

OTT technologies started in a fragmented way, like many innovations in media and other industries. At the beginning, cobbling together the best available vendor solutions was the only way to launch an OTT service into the market, relying on proprietary integration between the different components. But as OTT services became widely adopted, propelled by streaming video pioneers such as Netflix and Amazon, operators sought to innovate and become more cost-effective so they could retain and grow their subscriber base. The media industry took note and has begun to collaborate on standardization as the video ecosystem matures, to the benefit of not just the operators but also ultimately consumers.

As the first major breakthrough on standardization, MPEG-DASH significantly changed the economics of OTT operations. Such a push forward sounds great, but there is a catch: sometimes technology providers wouldn’t play ball. At least not until the market clearly demanded such support from all major players, like in the case of CMAF emerging to bridge the gap between Apple HLS and MPEG-DASH.

By mid-2017, thanks largely to collaboration and standardization, offering an OTT service that could reach virtually every multiscreen device was already much simpler. Now the industry leaps forward again in another giant step by introducing CPIX as a standard way for security information to be exchanged between packagers and digital rights management (DRM) headends.

CPIX, supporting both DASH and HLS to cover all devices

Unlike other previous standardization efforts, CPIX comes out of the gate already supporting both DASH and HLS. This enables operators who adopt CPIX to securely stream video to Apple devices and virtually every other connected device. CPIX is used to exchange keys and DRM policies between the DRM management headend and packagers. Until now, every packager vendor used its proprietary interface and sometimes DRM-specific APIs to handle this information exchange. This makes switching from one packager solution to another a very expensive and time-consuming project, often not worth pursuing unless the operator has become extremely unhappy with their current solution.

CPIX breaks the vendor lock-in for operators. By adopting this standardized approach, operators can more easily choose the packager and DRM management solutions that are right for them. CPIX allows operators to avoid custom integration since information exchange follows the same format from one product to another.

Preparing for wider adoption

Some work is still needed to make CPIX an easy standard to adopt, and the standard is undergoing fine tuning to achieve this. While many technology providers are still grappling with specific implementation approaches, AWS Elemental and Irdeto have already built CPIX support into their video solutions. With the ability to slash OTT costs and bring integration time down from months to days, CPIX is destined to become everyone’s favorite 4-letter word in 2018.

Part 2: Turning CPIX into Reality for Video Operators

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Lindy Anderson

Lindy Anderson

Lindy Anderson is a Marketing Program Manager for AWS Elemental.