AWS for M&E Blog

Protecting pre- and early-release content with NAGRA NexGuard forensic watermarking

Authored by Gabriel Cantin, Product Director at NAGRA. 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.

From development to consumption, the media and entertainment landscape has changed significantly. There are new challenges for content owners who realize, perhaps now more than ever, that content is king and the protection of their most valuable assets is core to long-term success.

On the distribution side, there has been an obvious and significant increase in viewer demand for streaming media. As a result, content owners have taken a fresh look at new business models for media distribution, while realizing the importance of protecting that media. This is why more and more studios and other video providers require increased measures, such as video watermarking, to protect their content from theft and unauthorized distribution.

At the same time, the video production process is adapting to a new environment. From post-production facilities to promotional activities, more people are working from home, and remote access is needed to keep business going. Protecting content from leaks to the general public is a major concern. With increased accessibility comes increased security risks, making cloud-based protection through advanced watermarking tools no longer optional, but rather a necessity.

In both scenarios there is a clear need on behalf of content owners to ensure an extra level of security for early-release and pre-release assets, including movies, TV series, originals, and online screenings. This is where the API integration between AWS Elemental MediaConvert and NAGRA NexGuard watermarking can help, by providing an added layer of security and traceability for the protection of premium content in pre- and early-release, direct-to-consumer workflows. AWS Elemental MediaConvert is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features. It allows content owners, post houses and video platforms to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale.

How does NAGRA NexGuard watermarking help?

NexGuard simplifies the watermarking process for both file transcoding and OTT media preparation, allowing for a fully cloud-based watermarking solution deployment for various use cases across the content workflow.

First, the deployment of NexGuard watermarking technologies with Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides video file transcoding and OTT content protection in the pre-airing or pre-theatrical release stage. Next, in the early-release stage, when valuable content is delivered direct-to-consumer, content owners can combine the NexGuard watermarking in AWS Elemental MediaConvert with pre-existing integration of NexGuard in Amazon CloudFront to apply a unique watermark at the CDN edge, and ensure content protection across the delivery chain, from the studio to the viewer.

NexGuard forensic watermarking for pre-release and NexGuard Streaming for on-demand OTT content are available in AWS Elemental MediaConvert, enabling full automation of the watermarking process from the cloud. No extra steps are required to apply forensic watermarking in the transcoding of pre-release content, such as full features, TV series or short clips, or for the content preparation of e-screeners or direct-to-consumer OTT streaming in the cloud.

Protecting pre-release content

When it comes to protecting pre-release content, there are two NexGuard watermarking technologies available through integration with AWS. The first is NexGuard watermarking for long-form content, well known in the industry as “G2 watermarking”, which enables forensic watermarking of high-quality video, including HDR and 4K, mezzanine and master files. The second is NexGuard ClipMark watermarking for short-form content, a new technology that helps detect the source of pre-release leaks on very short video clips such as dailies, clips (e.g. TV spots), and trailers (e.g. test trailers), down to thirty seconds in duration.

Both solutions can be seamlessly deployed into existing workflows while leveraging the cloud-based NexGuard Detection Service for fast, highly scalable, and fully automated detection of watermarks on any type of asset. Content owners and post-production houses now have all the tools to actively protect against pre-release leaks.

Protecting early-release content

Going beyond pre-release protection, the situation is more complex for OTT streaming. Content owners need an efficient and scalable way to protect against illegal distribution of video content from any streaming service or device.

When it comes to protecting high-value, premium video, such as early-release movies, original video-on-demand content, and B2B online screening, there is a threat of piracy all along the value chain. In these direct-to-consumer scenarios, added layers of expertise and technologies are required to ensure premium content is protected. This is where the API integration of NexGuard Streaming forensic watermarking with AWS Elemental MediaConvert provides a solution for specific DASH and HLS content preparation.

This integration combines the NexGuard forensic watermarking in AWS Elemental MediaConvert with the existing integration of NexGuard in Amazon CloudFront. CloudFront enables NAGRA to create a unique watermark for each session on OTT streams in a highly scalable and secure way. Using secure processing at the edge, this approach can serve millions of users across the world with a reduction in end-to-end latency. By leveraging session-based watermarking in the cloud, this solution enables streaming to any device (PC, tablet, connected TV, game console, etc.) without requiring changes in the player application.

As a result, OTT, direct-to-consumer, and video-on-demand platforms can apply a unique and imperceptible watermark per streaming session, leveraging caching in the CDN, and efficient stream control at the CDN edge.

The business impact of cloud-based forensic watermarking

The AWS and NexGuard integration has been an effective tool to empower the industry to prevent illegal redistribution of content. This is the first time that multiple NexGuard watermarking solutions have been unified in one scalable cloud-based product. The combined solution allows major Hollywood studios and production houses to develop, distribute, and stream video to viewers across the world in an efficient and highly scalable way, with robust security and traceability of premium assets. Additionally, NAGRA offers anti-piracy monitoring and cloud-based watermark detection services to identify and stop pirate sources – across the distribution workflow – in near real-time.

The industry is working hard to protect its valuable content. With proper protection, content owners can continue to provide high-value video to viewers to safeguard long-term revenues. In this context, the AWS integration with NexGuard watermarking technologies is a key tool in securing content for ongoing business success.

Learn more about forensic watermarking and how to protect pre-release and streaming content at


NAGRA, the digital TV division of the Kudelski Group, provides security and multiscreen user experience solutions for the monetization of digital media. The company provides content providers and DTV operators worldwide with secure, open and integrated platforms and applications over broadcast, broadband and mobile platforms, enabling compelling and personalized viewing experiences.