DRMtoday Evolves into a License Delivery Network (LDN)


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What is a License Delivery Network?

At castLabs we are constantly working on improving the user experience of streamed content. One challenge lies in providing a highly scalable and low latency global license delivery infrastructure which transforms content security data into device specific DRM licenses, removing any complexity stemming from distributing sensitive data globally or making it work on latest devices. Because many properties of our infrastructure resemble what a CDN does for streaming content, we will refer to DRMtoday with a new term: “License Delivery Network” (LDN).

Content owners, Video-on-Demand services, TV channel broadcasters and other media companies pay a LDN to deliver DRM licenses to their end-users. A LDN provides standard interfaces to various encoding and packaging systems, user as well as device authentication, and license delivery authorization. It’s also able to provide usage reports and analytics of it’s customers. DRMtoday reaches millions of devices per month exceeding 200 licenses a second.

Online and Offline Nodes LDN

Representation of the License Delivery Network inclusive of online and offline nodes

LDN Nodes

The LDN is usually part of a consumer-facing video service for premium content. Below please find a full value chain of such a service. A source video is sent to the encoding and content packaging component. Here the content is also encrypted. During the encryption process the content key is ingested into the License Delivery Network. The content is distributed via a CDN to the end customers device, e.g. a Web browser, Android/iOS device, TV, or Set Top Box. A license is delivered via the closest, available LDN node to the device after a successful authorization check.

 Full value chain of a premium video service

Full value chain of a premium video service

The license delivery network consists of a network of license server nodes. Most LDN nodes are cloud-based. However, some nodes also might be offline for a while, e.g. when using DRMtoday Onboard on planes, busses, trains, or ships, and synchronise with the LDN periodically. Each node is able to operate autonomously, cloud-based nodes are automatically scaled and load-balanced. Every LDN node offers three interfaces:

  • Key Ingest – After the video content is encoded from VOD and/or live encoding companies, they can easily ingest the decryption keys into DRMtoday via a single, secure interface. DRMtoday is preintegrated with a large number of encoding companies. The key needs to be ingested only once to be available in all DRM flavors.
  • Authorization check – When a customer device is asking for a DRM license, DRMtoday validates the user against the subscriber management component of the Video Service. It checks if the user is allowed to watch the content. If the user is approved, DRMtoday is allowed to send a license.
  • License Delivery – The license includes the decryption key which allows the customer device to unlock and play the content. DRMtoday delivers DRM licenses in various, studio-approved DRM scheme flavours such as Google Widevine™ Modular and Classic, Microsoft┬« PlayReady┬«, FairPlay Streaming by Apple, and CMLA-OMA DRM. This way the LDN is able to reach a large number of devices that all come with different built-in DRM clients.

One node in the LDN

One node in the LDN

The Strength of a License Delivery Network

The LDN node in the previous section describes a normal cloud-based DRM license service. However, the network of such nodes is adding valuable features which are described in the following chapters. Follow the link to read the full list of DRMtoday features.

License Service Fail Over Concept / Increasing Availability

All cloud-based nodes in the LDN are connected and permanently synchronized. If one of the nodes in an LDN fails, other nodes simply take over its functionality without service disruption. This is seamlessly possible, because all ingested content keys are available to each LDN node.

Fail-over concept of the LDN, a user receives the DRM-license from an alternative node

Fail-over concept of the LDN, a user receives the DRM-license from an alternative node

This mechanism allows the LDN to reach a greater operational availability than the underlying cloud service. For example, the Amazon Web Service outage in North America in February 2017 did not affect DRMtoday due to this concept which was built on-top of Amazon’s Service.

Fast Key Delivery

Within a LDN, the customer gets the license from the node with the least latency. This allows to reduces the time a customer needs to wait before the video starts to an absolute minimum. The multi-region infrastructure of the LDN reduces request times by up to a second on average between customer and license server. This number is based on response time tests between Europe, North America and Australia.


Users of a license delivery network have access to various analytics data, enabling them to answer questions such as the following:

  • How many licenses of a certain DRM scheme have been sent?
  • How many licenses failed and why?
  • Where have the licenses been sent to geographically?
  • Which devices have received licenses?
  • How many licenses have been sent per unique user / session?
  • What content was requested most/least in a certain period.

All the questions above can be answered per any defined period, eg. day, week, month year.


Working with a License Delivery Network allows you to supply your customers with protected videos in the most efficient, fastest, most reliable and securest way. It allows your customer to enjoy your premium content anytime anywhere and eliminates unnecessary waiting times before a video starts to playback.

Visit our DRMtoday page to learn more or email our sales team to discuss how we can best solve your individual needs.


Posted by

Susanne Guth-Orlowski

Dr. Susanne Guth-Orlowski
Sales & Business Development

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