Premium pay-TV services owe their existence to the fact that they are able to supply high-value, attractive content to subscribers who are willing to pay for its exclusivity.
This content needs to be protected, since – by its very nature – it is under consistent, high-tech attack from sophisticated, well-organized would-be pirates, who either want to gain access to it for free for their own private use, or to supply it more cheaply to their own clients.
For pay-TV operators, Conditional Access (CA) systems have provided the traditional defence in this continuing battle, for a number of reasons:
- They allow Pay-TV operators to secure their revenues, by exercising tight control over who has access to what content, and by monetizing that access
- They allow Pay-TV operators to fulfil content owners’ requirements regarding the security of the content they are supplying, so as to prevent its illegal use and re-distribution
- They allow operators (Pay-TV or otherwise) to control access by others to set-top boxes (STBs) that may have been subsidised, thus protecting their investment in their own STB installed base
Historically, Pay-TV operators with traditional one-to-many broadcast networks have exploited these advantages through the use of smartcard-based CA systems. However, that world is rapidly changing.
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