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SmartLabs explains to the market the reality of what’s needed to ease Widevine certification

May. 25, 2021
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SmartLabs has been a Certified Widevine Integration Partner (CWIP) for more than a decade. During that time, it has integrated the world’s leading, free-to-use digital rights management platform in a broad range of devices for networks around the world.

“Integrating into an IPTV environment is paramount for our customers,” says Gary Hamer, SmartLabs’ SVP for Sales and Business Development. “We have extended the Widevine platform, helped national broadcasters through Android TV certification, and most recently been appointed a Widevine Third Party Lab.”

As one of four Third Party Labs, 3PL in Widevine-speak, SmartLabs will lend its expertise to external development teams working on a more diverse range of hardware. The role – a bolt on to SmartLabs’ existing business as an interactive TV solutions and  STB manufacturer – is testament to the strong, ongoing relationship it has with Widevine and Google.

“We will partner with any device maker building solutions with Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), browsers and Linux,” says Gary. “So, alongside STBs and content delivery networks, we are helping deliver smart TVs, intelligent speakers, point of sale hardware, and even in-vehicle head-end units.”

Widevine has been steadily growing its market share as a revenue, security and anti-piracy solution. With no licencing fees or royalties to pay, it is free to deploy, which Gary sees as a key differentiator when compared with its rivals.

“Widevine competitors command per-device payments, or charge to authenticate smart cards,” he says. “With Widevine that’s not an issue, yet studios trust it to secure premium content, like blockbuster movies and pay per view sports.”

What is the certification cycle?

Working with SmartLabs, developers have a trusted partner who can guide them through the process, which can be complicated with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. New players have been queueing to enter the market, sometimes waiting several months for their hardware to be certified, and potentially having to reschedule planned launches. The certification process can be long and product owners should be clear on what's involved and the input needed from their side throughout the process.

Gary adds: “Product owners need to be realistic about what’s needed and how long it will take. We recommend that everyone who uses SmartLabs for the certification designates a project manager and understands the timeline we are both working to, which can be longer than many people realise. There is also input needed from both sides as we go through the process.  I think many companies think once they put their product up for certification, it’s a done deal but this is not the case at all.”

As well as being realistic about the time it will take, people also need to understand there is a huge demand for certification and a backlog of businesses who have shown an interest. The more organised businesses can be, the smoother the process. Anyone who is interested in finding out what is required should contact SmartLabs for its pre-certification checklist.

Beyond television

Although Widevine is most often deployed to protect studio content, it is suited to safeguarding any material destined for a specific device. SmartLabs is talking to kiosk developers, hospitality facilitators and banks – among others – to manage bespoke content sent to multiple sites.

It is a role that looks set to expand, too. If a device is updated, its circuit board is rerouted or there’s a change of chip... all that and more requires recertification. So does upgrading to the next full-point release of Android.

“In short,” says Gary, “our operators need to deploy a viable security system, whether it is a DRM or a digital access platform. The specific device on which it is used needs to be certified too. If not, premium content – and the subscribers that want to watch it – will be well beyond their reach.”

To learn more about how SmartLabs can help you through the Widevine certification process or to register for your pre-certification checklist, email Gary’s team at 3plwidevine@smartlabs.tv