About the OATC

Why did the OATC form? What did it hope to improve for member companies and their viewers? What was its mission?

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Background

The increasing consumer demand for access to video on devices other than TVs led representatives from cable companies and content owners to meet to discuss the interoperable technical means by which they could enable consumers to access content on the content providers’ web properties and efficiently obtain authorization from MVPDs (distributors) that maintain subscriber account information.

The initial scenario the companies considered was: To enable consumers to access premium video content on websites hosted by the content providers, the consumers needed to be Authenticated and Authorized by their MVPD.

  1. First the consumer would visit a Content Provider website and select a piece of content .
  2. Then the website would prompt the user to select their MVPD from a list of the names of potential MVPDs.
  3. After choosing their MVPD the viewer would be asked to enter their MVPD account information into a web form. This would then be authenticated by the MVPD to the content provider to verify that the consumer was authorized for the specific channel associated with the content they wanted to access.

In early 2010, approaches were devised based on the existing SAML Authentication and Authorization specifications to enable authorized customers of MVPDs to view video content from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (NBCU) and March Madness (Turner) on the web and on internet connected devices like phones and tablets.

From these early experiences it quickly became clear that an open-standards based interoperability solution defining the Authentication (AuthN) and Authorization (AuthZ) protocols would benefit content owners and distributors by reducing the complexity of the software integrations between each content provider and all of the distributors that offered their content, while allowing for a more consistent and intuitive user experience for consumers. On the distributor side each MVPD might need to integrate their backend billing/authorization systems with as many as 50-100 channel providers. This realization led to the formation of the OATC in 2011.

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Mission

The OATC mission is to develop open technical standards, frameworks and recommended practices that can be used to implement a system of authenticated access to subscription TV content on the Internet. Consumers need a simple, easy-to-use way to access subscription content on the internet and OATC technical standards provide interoperable means for content websites to allow consumers to sign in to their multichannel video programming distributor, authenticate them as a subscriber, and authorize their access to content that is part of their service package. OATC standards facilitate secure data exchanges between content providers and their brands websites and mobile apps (such as HBO Go, CNN, NBC) and MVPDs authentication and authorization systems, while ensuring consumer anonymity and privacy.
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Benefit to Viewers

The OATC was created to help to streamline the TV Everywhere (TVE) ecosystem and make it easier for MVPD customers to access subscription content hosted on websites from the Content Providers, as seamlessly as possible. In addition, by sharing lessons learned and recommending some common messaging and iconography, OATC is promoting a more consistent and easier to navigate user experience for consumers. Home Based Authentication — the use of a cable modem or other device to verify the viewer at home instead of requiring re-entry of a username and password — came about based on analytics and learnings from high failure rates during early deployments. One of the guiding principles is that it should be as easy for a consumer to stream video online as it is to turn on a set top box to watch video.

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The OATC Ecosystem

The OATC served three primary markets

01. MultiChannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs)

In order to launch a compelling Internet access to subscription TV ecosystem, Multichannel Video Programming Distributors will need to Authenticate subscribers and Authorize access to TV content on a large number of diverse websites. Considering the large number of branded channels available to subscribers, the necessity of developing technical standards for Authentication and Authorization transactions between those websites and the MVPD’s subscriber management systems becomes apparent. OATC is dedicated to developing technical standards that provide the framework to deliver the best possible customer experience that provides simple access to content, along with enabling features and functionality that will help MVPDs bring value to their brand and to increase subscriber satisfaction and retention.

02. Content Providers and Programmers

In order to launch a compelling Internet access to subscription TV ecosystem, Content Providers and Programmers will need to Authenticate subscribers and receive Authorization to access to TV content from numerous Multichannel Video Programming Distributor partners. Considering the large number of MVPDs, including cable operators, satellite systems, IPTV and fiber systems, the necessity of developing technical standards for Authentication and Authorization transactions between Programmer websites and the MVPD’s subscriber management systems becomes apparent. OATC is dedicated to developing technical standards that provide the framework to deliver the best possible viewer experience that provides simple access to content, along with enabling features and functionality that will help reinforce the value of their MVPD subscription, while attracting audiences to their branded website.

03. Technology Vendors and Developers

In order to launch a compelling Internet access to subscription TV ecosystem, many Content Providers and Programmers websites will need to Authenticate subscribers and receive Authorization to access to TV content from numerous Multichannel Video Programming Distributor partners. Considering the large number of Programmer branded websites and the even larger number of MVPDs, including cable operators, satellite systems, IPTV and fiber systems, a robust potential market exists for technology solution providers. OATC technical standards for Authentication and Authorization transactions between Programmer websites and the MVPD’s subscriber management systems enable a rich Internet access to subscription TV ecosystem and create an open and competitive marketplace for solution providers. OATC is dedicated to developing open and technical standards that enable technology providers to bring interoperable, cost-effective solutions to their MVPD and Programmer customers.

Why Did the OATC Wind Down?

The board of the OATC decided in 2019 that there was no more work to be done. The revolution of OTT had changed the TV Everywhere landscape. Many content owners were moving to direct subscriptions with consumers (rather than running through cable operators) and large technology providers, like Adobe, had developed out-of-the-box authentication solutions for TV Everywhere. The board felt that the Streaming Video Alliance was a perfect place to house the documents going forward.

Find out How You Can Contribute!

This document archive is managed by the Streaming Video Alliance and all publications are provided “as-is” with no warranty. Any use of these documents is governed by the policies set forth by the OATC prior to its dissolution. You can find those policies here.