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Zixi: Securely Delivering Live, Broadcast-quality Video Over IP


From Tim Baldwin, Head of Product, Zixi

Today’s consumers want content at their fingertips. They want to consume content at any time, on any device, packaged in ways that satisfies their interests and delivered at compelling price points. Media companies recognize that they need to create more programming going to more places, and IP distribution is the best way to accomplish that. But as customers move into this digitized transport realm, sources and uses start to get very complex in terms of supply chains, and security can certainly become an issue.

Zixi helps content owners and providers navigate these newfound internet-driven supply chains by providing both visibility and secure transport of content throughout. With Emmy-winning technology, Zixi is core to virtualized live video transport infrastructure, helping content providers replace legacy fixed video transmission over satellite and fiber with a far more flexible, scalable, affordable and secure solution that makes the internet work for superior live video distribution.

We recognize that in the broadcast industry security is of the utmost concern, especially when it comes to premium live content. When it comes to transporting streams over IP, content providers need to have a solution through which they can monitor that transport and ensure that streams were safely and securely delivered to each endpoint.

To enable distributors to move from a point-to-point or point-to-multi-point distribution scenario to a full end-to-end workflow over IP securely and with broadcast quality, Zixi created the cloud-based control plane ZEN Master. With ZEN Master, Zixi provides a solution for network monitoring and management that allows today’s content providers to securely scale their video distribution with complete confidence in content quality and performance. This virtualized master control system allows customers to see the entire video transport supply chain from acquisition to delivery to a CDN, MSO, MVPD, or OTT platform. Given this end-to-end view in ZEN Master, our customers have continuous confirmation that their video content is being delivered reliably to the intended endpoints.

Zixi’s best-in-class security protocols and sophisticated protection are among the biggest reasons our customers and partners choose to send their content using the transport layer of the Zixi Platform. All data in the Zixi-enabled Network is protected using a multi-layered security approach.

For live contribution and delivery, Zixi employs two security methods for protecting content.  The first method is static key encryption using AES-128/256 encryption.  With this method, the key is entered on both the sending and receiving device and if packets are intercepted by a third party they will be encrypted and unintelligible – this method provides a baseline level of security in a stream. The second security method with Zixi is the use of Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) between the sending and receiving device. DTLS provides complete session control so that the stream can’t be intercepted between the source and destination. Our pioneering use of DTLS means that streaming video systems using Zixi exchange live stream content without allowing eavesdropping, tampering, or message forgery and are protected against man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. In addition to end-to-end data encryption we employ additional security measures in our ZEN Master Control plane layer, by controlling administrative access, user rights, and how one can get in and out of the system itself with enterprise quality Single Sign-On (SSO) and 2-factor authentication.

Piracy is of paramount concern to our customers when it comes to streaming premium live sporting events because consumers often want to find a way to watch these for free. With the emergence of self-live-streaming sites such as YouTube Live, Twitch, etc. content owners have to be concerned about consumers “live streaming” these pay-per-view events to the masses. Zixi helps our customers to securely deliver their content intended endpoints without the possibility of their content being intercepted and appearing on these platforms.

Zixi most notably deals with piracy concerns when it comes to transporting live sporting events from a premium pay-per-view model. For example, UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization and the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world, leverages the Zixi platform to deliver live UFC events. During these big, cultural moments that need to be experienced live, the opportunity for monetization is high. By using the Zixi platform for live video transport during high-profile moments, our clients can use IP distribution to reach the largest audiences possible, and rest assured knowing that the highest levels of security are being employed to protect their stream and their revenue.

To confront piracy, the industry must understand the sources and methods of piracy and then try to disrupt them.  Currently, contribution and backhaul of video content is protected by Zixi, via the methods described above, and final delivery of the video content to viewers is protected by Conditional Access and Digital Rights Management, so the biggest piracy threat is capture and recording of the video content at the viewer device level.  Hacking of viewer devices and apps on the viewer device can make it possible to record and redistribute that content.  One possible solution to a threat like this is watermarking; content owners could add a non-visible watermark to the video and then use an automated system to discover live streams on the internet and scan them for this watermark. Once the illegal video content is located, the content owner can work with the streaming service to shut down the stream.

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