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Widevine Reveals Netflix and Blockbuster as Customers April 22, 2010

Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in DRM, Video.
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Widevine, in conjunction with a new release of its cross-platform DRM technology, has identified a number of high-profile customers as well as a list of supported consumer electronics devices.  The company revealed that Netflix and Blockbuster.com are using its technology for their on-demand video services.  We have known for a while, as well, that Widevine has been the DRM of choice for the emerging Sonic/CinemaNow/Best Buy ecosystem of networked home media.

Just as interesting as the names of these high-profile customers is the list of consumer devices that Widevine has been ported to — information which has been closely held until now.  The list includes all Apple devices (Macs, iPhones/iPod Touches, and now iPads); connected Blu-ray players from several makers including Haier, LG, Philips, Samsung, and Toshiba; Internet TVs from LG and Samsung; and Nintendo Wiis.  These are in addition to Windows PCs and dozens of set-top boxes.

Widevine is clearly moving beyond the cable/telco/pay-TV services that constitute its core market to home networked entertainment — an area that has been slow to develop, giving the company time to hone its product and partnerships.

Widevine particularly faces competition from its bigger Seattle neighbor Microsoft, which has been moving its PlayReady DRM from mobile devices into the home by making it part of the MediaRoom ecosystem, and Marlin, which has been making its way into a range of Sony products (among others).  Those three, plus OMA DRM and Adobe’s Flash Media Rights Manager, are all approved DRMs for the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (SAO.org) consortium — which was somewhat conspicuous in its silence at the recent NAB trade show.

It seems as though Widevine has been itching to publicize big customers like Netflix, and major device makers like Samsung and LG, and has finally been given the chance.  (I suppose it’s not easy being one of the last of the independent DRM vendors.)  Now it’s clear that Widevine is a major player in the emerging world of the networked digital home.

Comments»

1. Christopher Levy - April 23, 2010

Bill,

Good coverage here of our industry. On one hand this is exciting news as it signals wider spread adoption of DRM technology. On the other hand it concerns me what the long term effects will be given the on-an-island nature of the Widevine solution and the real viability of Blockbuster. Should they go under, they will be forced to surrender their licenses and right now it’s not looking good:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i2d514f08720e08fa1be8a79dcca01754

Similarly, Widevine has burned through a rumored $50M since 2003 and has limited cash on hand to continue their existing expansion.

http://newteevee.com/2010/04/21/widevine-names-netflix-gets-embedded-and-goes-live/

If anything, their short term success may drive CE vendors to adopt multiple DRMs on their platforms to prevent DRM brownouts.

2. digital media - April 26, 2010

Where do we find the data Chris is using to form his opinion on the funding position of Widevine?

Considering Widevine’s (public) customers include Netflix, Best Buy, AT&T, Echostar and lots of CE vendors; considering that Widevine recently won a IPR licensing deal; considering Widevine is a DECE approved DRM; and considering they got a strategic round of $15 million a couple of months ago from Samsung and Liberty Global I would think they are the strongest DRM company ever in the space.

3. Christopher Levy - April 26, 2010

Let me guess… you work for WideVine or you are with their PR firm or your company is invested in them right? Why don’t you sign your posts?

1. Widevine has raised a total of $51.8 million since being recapitalized in 2003, including a $15 million strategic investment from global cable operator Liberty Global and Samsung Ventures that it announced in December. The DRM provider said it would use the funding to expand its ability to offer TV Everywhere-type services. It’s well known in our industry that WideVine has, at times, had cash issues. Their flagging IPTV business, legal issues and small market share of the online space is more than likely to blame. The company is rumored to have done nearly 10 rounds of funding now in 10 years. $15M for a company their size is not a lot of money to expand with and when you are spending the bulk of your money building technology that already exists and is actually in play in the industry at large, your cash tends to dwindly quickly.
2. Widevine “won” is a new way of saying they had to grant VeriMatrix a license to their platform. I am not sure that’s called a win. Their earlier lawsuit against VeriMatrix was thrown out. They are 1-1 which is in essence a “0” Furthermore this “win” doesn’t help them get customers or make them money. In fact I suspect they burned a cool $1M trying to get that “win.”
3. The DECE is an idea right now. That’s all.
4. Samsung just committed to deploy Microsoft’s PlayReady Technology http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/15/samsung-microsoft-work-playready-drm-support-into-upcoming-devi/ so you can imagine many other CE manufacturers, who by the way are already deployed with Microsoft’s market-leading WMRM solution will follow on with PlayReady.
5. If you think WideVine is stronger than Microsoft or Adobe…. think again.

4. Bill Rosenblatt - April 26, 2010

Chris,

As much as I do not want to take sides here, I have to take issue with your #2. In patent litigation, if a defendant takes a license to a plaintiff’s IP in a settlement, it is common practice to refer to it as a “win” even if the case did not go to trial (which rarely happens). Although I have no knowledge of the settlement, it is typically a payment stream that at least covers the plaintiff’s legal fees. Furthermore, a dismissal of the previous case does not count as a “loss” other than of legal fees. It is not necessarily a cash outlay either; the law firm involved could possibly have taken the case on contingency, meaning that it would have cost Widevine little or nothing. This is increasingly common nowadays.

Please do not confuse IP litigation with the actual market; the two don’t have much to do with each other.

5. Widevine Shareholder - April 26, 2010

Mr. Levy,

As a long time shareholder I know a bit more about Widevine then you. So let me clarify:

Widevine has not had financial or legal problems. In fact Widevine has survived 3 economic downturns and continues to reinvent itself.

Widevine has been profitable for a while founded by the IPTV business that you say is flagging. What does that mean, it means that Widevine has and has had significant capital in the bank even before the $15Million that came in with Samsung and Liberty Global.

But let me assume for a second, you are correct (like I said my inside information shows you are incorrect) and Widevine spent $50Million in investors money since 2003 that is only $7Million a year. Considering what they have accomplished in those 7 years I will be very wealthy because the value of the company is now many, many times the $50Million. The management team has created considerable shareholder value.

Widevine has become profitable, has blue-ribbon customers, has validated IPR, and has some of the largest public companies in the world as investors.

One comparable to Widevine had many times less revenue then Widevine, still had not validated their IPR and lacked any customers of note. That company sold for north of $600Million. These days any of us would love to see that type of return on a $50Million investment. However, based on what I know I suspect Widevine is worth much more than the comparable company above.

Regarding your comment on the two lawsuits. You will find that both were settled out of court. The first one was not thrown out as you suggest. This is what happens in most patent suits. Very few go to the Jury. You are correct in that as part of the second case Verimatrix took out a license to some of the Widevine patents (some not all). While I cannot disclose the actual details you can assume that there was a financial component to the settlement. The whole goal of the infringement case was to get Verimatrix to take out a license. So yes I would agree with Mr. Digital Media above it was a win.

Signed,

Widevine Long

6. Widevine Shareholder - April 26, 2010

This is also an interesting article showing how Widevine continues to have a vision for the future

“…Once a pure-play DRM solution provider, Widevine’s video optimization may be its strongest competitive advantage…”

http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/News/Featured-News/Widevine-Expands-Its-DRM-Video-Optimization-Offerings-66749.aspx

7. Christopher Levy - April 27, 2010

Bill: Understood. Thanks for clarifying that. Too bad we don’t have any real facts here about what actually happened :)

Widevine Shareholder: Or so you say. Right, now WideVine is a streaming company. All the best to you with your investments.

8. Goran - April 28, 2010

Knowing Verimatrix is almost out of cash.

I would guess Widevine settled so they could get a what money they could while the getting was good.

My guess is Verimatrix is gone by summer.

Goran

9. Christopher Levy - April 29, 2010

From what I hear, Widevine is going to be right behind them. Blockbuster and CinemaNOW are total busts. Widevine won’t be able to compete with Microsoft and Adobe long term when it comes to CE deployments. Anyone who has tried that in the past has failed.

10. Widevine Shareholder - April 30, 2010

Funny you really do not understand financials. While the street is still worried about the long term viability of Blockbuster I would not count them out just yet.

As for CinemaNow I would say they continue to grow in value. When Sonic acquired CinemaNow (late 2008) Sonic’s market cap was around $30Million. Today the market cap was over $400 Million.

I notice you did not question the viability of Widevine’s other customers like NetFlix, AT&T, etc. Good thing.

Do you really think Samsung the largest consumer electronics company in the world and Liberty Global the second largest Cable company in the world would invest in Widevine if they did not believe in the upside?

Anyway watch the news over the next week or two…some bigger news coming

Widevine Long

11. Widevine Shareholder - May 3, 2010
12. Christopher Levy - May 25, 2010

right… I don’t understand the financials of a company that has done 10 rounds in 10 years…sure.

What I do understand is that WideVine is a house of cards.

And I understand that they are never going to “beat” Microsoft in the DRM space.

On that note:

http://www.streamingmedia.com/PressRelease/Netflix-Taps-Microsoft-PlayReady-as-Its-Primary-DRM-Technology-for-Netflix-Ready-Devices-and-Applications_12842.aspx

13. Christopher Levy - May 26, 2010

Oh and another BTW:

NetFlix Deploys PlayReady on the iPad:

http://www.homemediamagazine.com/netflix/netflix-selects-new-microsoft-drm-19505

14. Ross Cooper - May 26, 2010

Looks like Widevine did 6 rounds in 10 years. Where do you find the other four you mentioned?

#
Widevine received $15M in Series C funding. (12/14/09)
Posted 12/14/09 at 7:48am via businessinsider.com
#
Dollar
Widevine received $16M in Unattributed funding. (4/06)
Posted 6/7/09 at 8:52am via seattlepi.com
#
Dollar
Widevine received $13M in Unattributed funding. (2/04)
Posted 6/7/09 at 8:52am via highbeam.com
#
Dollar
Widevine received $7.8M in Series A funding. (6/03)
Posted 6/7/09 at 8:52am via altassets.com
#
Dollar
Widevine received $3M in Series C funding. (10/01)
Posted 6/7/09 at 8:52am via mobileinfo.com
#
Dollar
Widevine received $11.5M in Unattributed funding. (9/00)
Posted 6/7/09 at 8:52am via seattlepi.com

Ross

15. C. Levy - June 16, 2010

Ross,

I heard they had done 10 rounds. Looks like I was wrong. 6 is less than 10 for sure. That being said, 6 rounds means several investors got smashed down over the years. Makes you wonder how much of the company they actually own at this point.

I notice that after I posted about NetFlix going with Microsoft’s PlayReady technology, it was cue the crickets. Wasn’t their investment expert-laden team of posters talking loudly about how NetFlix was their win?

Looks like MSFT just came in and sat down on it with ease. Doesn’t suprise me since you can license PlayReady from MSFT and port it to other devices. I don’t think WideVine actually has an SDK 3rd parties can license do they?

Regards,

Christopher

P.S. Ross didn’t you found VeriMatrix? Same Ross Cooper?

16. Widevine Shareholder - June 21, 2010

Hi Christopher,

I went quiet because the Netflix Microsoft news was old Microsoft always has been Netflix’s primary DRM.

That does not change the amount of $$ Netflix pays Widevine.

The other reason I went quiet is that I had better things to do then answer your silliness.

You may want to check but I think that Widevine’s major investors have remained with them since 2000. So they must not be too smashed down as you say.

Look for new Widevine news this week,

Widevine Long

17. Christopher Levy - June 23, 2010

Well WV Long I guess if you don’t pay your investors back because you are losing money, you don’t really have a choice as an investor but to hang around right?

Has WV turned a Net Profit yet? Have they paid back any of their investors? I am curious what the return was if so.

Regards,

Christopher

18. Widevine Shareholder - June 23, 2010

Hi Christopher,

All I can say is I am very happy with Widevine’s performance. I have been a shareholder since the early days. I am also sure the the new investors are also happy as they are very smart companies who would not throw money away. You also need to remember Widevine has continued to thrive where others have failed.

What is your beef with them did they steal your lolly?

-Widevine Long

P.S. I assume you saw this one too http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/454104-Samsung_Taps_Widevine_for_Connected_Devices.php

19. Quora - December 8, 2010

When does Netflix use WideVine DRM instead of Microsoft PlayReady DRM?…

I almost answered “When Netflix Chairman Reed Hastings leaves the Microsoft Board of Directors” but that wouldn’t be nice (or helpful).  :-) I was pretty sure the answer lay in Widevine’s support for a broader array of consumer devices, and that ap…

20. Google building Widevine DRM into Chrome for Android | UltraTrends.com - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; users of its technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming include Netflix and Blockbuster. […]

21. Google building Widevine DRM into Chrome for Android | Alternative News Alert! - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; users of its technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming include Netflix and Blockbuster. […]

22. Google building Widevine DRM into Chrome for Android | GREGORY.NU - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; users of its technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming include Netflix and Blockbuster. […]

23. Despite DRM opposition, Chrome for Android to get Google's Widevine | Alternative News Alert! - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; Netflix and Blockbuster use the technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming. […]

24. Solution Search | Despite DRM opposition, Chrome for Android to get Google's Widevine - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; Netflix and Blockbuster use the technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming. […]

25. Despite DRM opposition, Chrome for Android to get Google’s Widevine | GREGORY.NU - August 20, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; Netflix and Blockbuster use the technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming. […]

26. Despite DRM opposition, Chrome for Android to get Google's Widevine - August 22, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; Netflix and Blockbuster use the technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming. […]

27. Despite DRM opposition, Chrome for Android to get Google’s Widevine | BaciNews - December 28, 2013

[…] Google engineers on Monday announced their intention to build the DRM feature into Chrome for Android on a mailing list for Blink, the browser engine at the heart of Chrome and its open-source foundation, Chromium. Google acquired Widevine in 2010; Netflix and Blockbuster use the technology for barring unauthorized copying and optimizing online streaming. […]


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