Episodic television and film content delivered over IP would not be possible without Digital Rights Management (DRM). Implemented correctly, it is invisible to viewers and provides a seamless user experience.
Chrome and Silverlight
The Silverlight browser plugin has been an enabler to give consumers secure access to content. Although Sliverlight’s low penetration rates often required users to perform an additional installation or upgrade step, the reward of getting access to high quality content was often worth it.
Google is now taking steps to deprecate browser plugins in Chrome browser. This transition began with a blog post in September 2013, with the Google Chrome team announcing the deprecation of NPAPI, the interface used by plugins in the Chrome browser, including the Silverlight plugin. Because it has been embedded into the Chrome browser within a secure sandbox environment using the Pepper interface, and is auto-updated and protected by the Chrome browser, Flash Player has not been affected by the changes in Chrome.
NPAPI support will be completely removed from Chrome. We expect this to happen before the end of 2014. – (Google Chrome team)
This means by end of this year Silverlight will stop functioning in the Chrome browser, which represents roughly a 45% audience based on June 2014 browser statistics.
Meanwhile OSX is getting an upgrade to the 64-bit version of Chrome, which is now removing the support for 32-bit plugins.
The new version, though, drops support for 32-bit plug-ins — software like Microsoft’s Silverlight or Adobe Systems’ Flash Player that extend a browser’s abilities. Chrome has its own version of Adobe’s Flash Player built in, which means the most-used plug-in isn’t a problem, but others won’t work. (via CNET)
Although Silverlight has a 64-bit version for Windows, it does not have the equivalent for OSX, meaning 64-bit Chrome users on Mac won’t have access to Silverlight-protected content. Silverlight-enabled premium content will not work in certain Chrome browser configurations, even before the support of the Silverlight plugin in Chrome officially ends towards end of this year.
The migration path
To avoid a suboptimal viewer experience given the expected changes, Silverlight-based players need to migrate to a new technology platform for content protection.
There are three paths to enable DRM protection for users in a post-Silverlight world:
- Switch to an HTML5-based DRM solution for all browsers. This currently requires licensing different DRM solutions for each browser. For Mozilla Firefox the DRM HTML5 technology is Adobe Primetime DRM.
- Switch to Adobe Primetime for DRM protection, and use a single DRM solution across all browsers, mobile platforms, gaming consoles, and OTT devices. Use Flash Player to cover DRM for desktop browsers.
- Deploy a hybrid model with a mix of Flash/Silverlight for certain browsers, and HTML5 DRM for others. As example, Primetime DRM for HTML5 for Firefox, and Primetime DRM with Flash Player for all other browsers.
Given that multiple DRMs create more complexity for licensing and infrastructure, Adobe Primetime DRM is the only solution that provides a single DRM environment on the desktop. In addition, Adobe Primetime DRM can be used for mobile platforms, gaming consoles and OTT devices, providing a highly simplified content protection workflow.
Silverlight is going away. Thankfully there are options on the market to provide a smooth transition for users, but it requires a migration, and the time to act is now.