CES 2017: Nagra Gives TVkey Dongle Solution a Public Unveiling

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Imagine a shopper has just bought a massive shiny 4K TV set and hung it on his wall. He's all set to watch some high-resolution video, but there's a problem: He has poor credit and can't get an account with a cable or satellite pay TV service. No problem, he simply turns to Netflix or another streaming service—and the pay TV industry has lost another customer.

At IBC 2016, Nagra announced TVkey, a dongle solution that lets pay TV providers avoid that situation. In the TVkey future, that 4K TV would have come with a TVkey USB dongle which plugs into the back of the set. That key allows the customer to sign onto a linear ultra-high resolution video service without the need for a costly cable box or satellite dish. Content is accessed via a simple coaxial connection.

TVkey keeps Hollywood studios happy by offering a secure environment for UHD video, and keeps pay TV companies happy by giving them an affordable way to reach customers who, for one reason or another, don't want a traditional pay TV service. The TVkey dongle that comes with a new TV might include trials for a number of services, letting prospective customers try before they buy.

Nagra is giving TVkey its first public unveiling at CES, showing it at work on a Samsung TV. At IBC, Nagra announced that TVkey would work with all newer model (2017) Samsung TVs. Those sets are built with a proprietary security system on the processor. When paired with the TVkey dongle, it forms a secure and identifiable bond to protect valuable premium UHD video.

"TVkey provides an easy and low-cost route to market for broadcast pay TV services that allow pay TV operators to maintain control over security and user experience while radically reducing customer acquisition costs," says Christopher Schouten, senior director for pay TV product marketing at Nagra.

Nagra announced at CES that it's opening up the TVkey standard to third parties. It would like to see the technology adopted across the TV industry, and is only charging a nominal licensing fee to cover costs. The fist chip maker to create TVkey-compliant chips is MStar. Other TV manufacturers besides Samsung will introduce supported models later this year. While the solution won't work in the U.S., it could work in Latin America where countries use HbbTV or similar broadcast standards.

"Customer are excited about the possibility of leveraging television manufacturers as a new sales channel for pay TV services so that potential subscribers can be up and running as quickly and easily on pay TV linear services as they are on Netflix or other over-the-top services," Schouten says.

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