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SMW 17: Brightcove's Anil Jain Talks Securing Live-Streamed Content

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media West 2017. I'm Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor with Streaming Media and Media Strategy Principal at ReelSolver Inc. I've got a couple guests back-to-back here from Brightcove. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Anil Jain: Hi. My name is Anil Jain. I'm the Executive Vice President and General Manager for our Media business at Brightcove.

Tim Siglin: Brightcove's been around for quite some time. How long?

Anil Jain: 13 years.

Tim Siglin: How long have you been with Brightcove?

Anil Jain: I've been there for about four years now.

Tim Siglin: Okay. What was your background prior to that?

Anil Jain: My background has had me meandering across technology for 20-plus years now. I've been in the media tech side of the world since 2010. I was at a startup called Unicorn Media. We pioneered server-side ad insertion back before it became a popular term.

Tim Siglin: David Morrell's a good friend of mine. You had a couple Limelight guys there too, as well.

Anil Jain: We did. Actually quite a few. So, folks that started in the CDN world that moved into video publishing and then monetization. I was part of that team, and I headed up strategic business development and corporate development and sold the company to Brightcove the very beginning of 2014. So I’m just coming on completing four years. Then, prior to that, I'm actually a material scientist by training, but I have touched that in years.

Tim Siglin: Computational fluid dynamics, all that fun stuff?

Anil Jain: Oh, yes. Super conductors, optical wave guides, LCD panels. The two very large companies I worked at in my past are Corning Incorporated while I was going through undergrad and grad school. And then I moved from Boston after grad school to Arizona to work at Intel Corporation. At Intel, I had the pleasure of being part of the team that launched Intel's first internet startup and that changed everything. Thereafter, I got into startups.

Tim Siglin: Well, that's fascinating because I started out in aerospace research, wind tunnels, although my job was crisis management/public relation. So when we blew something up, I would go back and neither confirm nor deny. But that whole CFD, pressure-sensitive paint, materials, thermal ablation, we could have a long conversation on that, but let's not right now.

Anil Jain: Yeah, we could. Let's not. It's far field from streaming media.

Tim Siglin: You were on a panel just a moment ago with me talking about securing the live stream. Let's talk a little bit about that for people who weren't able to be here.

Anil Jain: Sure. There are, obviously, a number of technical questions and solutions around securing the content of a live stream. But some of the points that I made during our panel session are probably the same ones that I can just reiterate here. That is, fundamentally, content companies that are looking at unlocking revenue potential of life, right, whether it's simulcast or, for the most part, live events that have exclusive rights to like sporting events. We talked about some popular fights this summer--

Tim Siglin: The Pacquiao fight, the Mayweather fight.

Anil Jain: Exactly. For the rights holder, those yielded significant revenue potential that was upside from just the linear streaming of those rights. So offering that in a pay-per-view model allowed them to monetize audiences that they couldn't monetize before.

Tim Siglin: But as they're monetizing that, they're also trying to keep people from accessing it that weren't paying.

Anil Jain: Across the panel we talked about the fact that a lot of content protection or securitization of content is driven by those that are licensing the content—or rather, the licensors the content requiring the licensees to meet certain obligations. This is true for studio license content that are VOD assets, not just live. The same thing applies.

So there is an element of needing to protect those streams to make sure that you're living up to your contractual obligations and addressing liability. But, fundamentally, the guidance that I provide and my team provides to our customers is you have to think about the ROI associated with your content protection strategy. To what extend are you going to actually enforce the stealing of your content?

The reality is that there is a distribution curve of users where there's a fringe element that will go out of their way and take extraordinary measures to pirate content.

Tim Siglin: Some of those are doing it for revenue, as you talked about. Some of them are doing it just because they want to try the challenge to see if they can break the system.

Anil Jain: Exactly. Whatever their motivations are, the main point is that, out of all the potential audience members you have out there, are you going to focus on those few or are you going to put your resources towards providing a compelling experience at a price point that allows you to service all those audience members who are willing to pay? You have to play the trade-off game to be able to say, "To what extent am I going to use certain technologies to actually secure my streams? And then what am I going to do when I find that people are actually violating the license?"

Tim Siglin: So, to that point, you mentioned the licensor with the licensee being compelled to actually go out and work on that. You as a technology provider to the companies who own the rights to those fights, you also to certain extent have that same sort of obligation, and that's probably written contractually into it. Are there targets that you have to hit that no more than 3% of the people are actually...

Anil Jain: Yeah. So, it's a good point. I think a lot of what goes into a contract for our service provider, and we have to be smart about this as well, because this is all about who bears the liability in the end, right? There are premium SLAs that we can provide to our customers. Those are about service levels in terms of uptime and the quality of the stream and if there are other features they're using are those available, because they're very important to their overall model, right? When it comes to actually protecting the stream and then enforcing what streams are unprotected, what we do is we sign up to actually deliver the DRM packaging or the DRM license serving and making sure that that has a certain uptime that's functional. But we are not taking on the liability because we don't have visibility into what the contractual obligations are between the licensor and the licensee so it doesn't make sense for us to shoulder that.

That being said, what really matters is long-term relationships with customers. If you are going to fail to provide a service that they need, you're not going to have that business. We do obviously focus very much on redundancy and all the functionality that the customer needs because, in the end, they have to provide this experience because it's real dollars.

Tim Siglin: Absolutely. Anil, thank you very much for your time.

Anil Jain: My pleasure. Nice to speak with you.

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