Widevine Technologies‘ recent announcement that it was making available the "Widevine CableCard as a QAM- and IP-based hardware solution enabling multichannel programming distributors to provide two-way downloadable conditional access solutions for protecting premium content delivery to any device with a CableCard slot" led to two immediate questions. Do news release writers ever pause to take a breath when writing sentences? And, more importantly, who the hell wants a CableCard?
"We’ve had some service operators ask us to bridge their migration from where they are today with integrated security to downloadable security, but in the meantime they need a separable security and would like to use the CableCard," said Brian Baker, Widevine’s CEO. "Given the cost of a physical component, we think that the life of the CableCard will actually be pretty short."
Kind of like a house fly. Cable operators are not excited about spending money for hardware when software is available. Widevine, while it sees a market it can’t resist, is a software company with 135 service operator customers around the world deploying downloadable content without hardware, so it’s hardly make-or-break technology.
"We see the physical card being a migration strategy from integrated security in set-tops today getting towards a fully downloadable solution in the future," Baker said. "Because of the near-term mandate and investments in card housing by television and set-top box manufacturers, there’s an opportunity to provide a product in that market to manage the transition."
CableCard has one other strange feature: it’s a CableLabs-certified product, but it’s not available to the public except through cable operators. So why bother certifying an item that cable ops won’t buy and won’t deploy if it doesn’t work with equipment in their systems?
"That’s a great question," Baker said. "The certification that matters is that it adheres to the content owners’ requirement for protection, and our solutions have done that for the better part of 10 years."
Oh. – Jim Barthold